Hannes Grossman
To Where the Light Retreats

Hannes Grossman is a busy dude. The talented drummer extraordinaire has had his fingers in many pies over the years, earning great respect and admiration with his work in bands including, Necrophagist, Obscura, Alkaloid, Blotted Science and Gomorrah amongst many others. Along the way Grossman has also established a solid solo career, showcasing his songwriting craft to compliment his outstanding skills behind the kit. Sticking in the familiar Grossman realms of modern, progressively inclined tech death, fourth opus To Where the Light Retreats continues a consistent trend of quality that has become Grossman’s trademark.

To Where the Light Retreats is as tight and technical as one should expect, loaded with groove, an abundance of noteworthy riffs, and a genuine sense of fun that is not often present in the world of technical death metal. Aided by the familiar supporting hands of guitarist Danny Tunker (Alkaloid), bassist Linus Klausenitzer (ex-Obscura, Alkaloid) and vocalist V. Santura (Dark Fortress, Triptykon) Grossman crafts nimble, technically acrobatic tunes that are punchy, twisty, yet pleasingly coherent and laser like in focus. There is a looser, more playful feel to the material that ramps up the fun factor and the hooks penetrate deeper.

There are nods to previous solo efforts and Grossman’s higher profile projects, Obscura and Alkaloid, while sounding fresh and retaining its own edge and character. Opener “The Great Designer” grips throughout its eight-minute duration. The song’s gentle, atmospheric intro gradually morphs into a song with formidable muscle behind the notable finesse and melodic tendrils peeking through the knotty framework. Thrashy bursts of speed and blasting aggression balance out the twisty, melodic nature of the arrangement, anchored by an anthemic central hook and typically creative drumming performance. Later album cut, “The Fountain” leans into Grossman’s more adventurous and progressive writing style, tapping into Alkaloid territory with its slow building swell, sparkling melodies, and shifting dynamics.

Explosively colourful and acrobatic instrumentation demands the spotlight, but Grossman has crafted an album stacked with genuinely infectious tunes and diverse compositions, expertly balancing heft, melody, complexity, and hooky writing. Take the irresistible “The Sun Eaters” for example, boasting a lively, layered arrangement, boundless percussive energy, and a stellar chorus that lodges in the brain. Whether pumping out shorter, more concise nuggets, or longer form epics, the writing is never dull. Featuring a ridiculously catchy leading riff and tons of groove and killer double bass work, “In the Glacier’s Eye” has a hardened exterior and forceful intensity, replete with frantic bursts of blast beat ridden fury. Elsewhere, longer form behemoth “Death and the Vast Nothing” cohesively welds weighty riffs, doomy death dirges, scorching solos, and progressive, experimental flair into a groove-heavy assault to be reckoned with. Although some songs hit harder than others, there are no notable weak points. Perhaps some tactful editing here and there may have tightened the package, but otherwise quality remains high throughout, with the album’s longer term replay value to be determined in coming months, but signs are promising.

The excellent guitar work is a constant source of engagement, blending progressive playfulness, technical wizardry, and plenty of genuinely heavy, blood pumping riffs ripped out. Strong writing and top-notch individual performances are complimented by a crisp, punchy production, solid mix, and dynamic master. Whether it is the various bands he represents through his phenomenal drumming skills, or the confident solo projects he spearheads with greater creative control, Grossman’s name is reliably attached to quality. His progression as a solo artist continues to intrigue and impress. To Where the Light Retreats is perhaps Grossman’s finest solo effort, an engaging blend of creativity, technical proficiency, catchy songwriting, and an adventurous spirit that does not dilute the album’s punchy focus, heavy edge, and fluid cohesion. The end result marks one of 2021’s most impressive tech death albums.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
June 7th, 2021

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