One of the places where this whole idea of Things You Might Have Missed posts came from was when I was putting together my end-of-year list in 2009 and realizing that there was quite a bit of great music that had simply flown under our radar. There have been some amazing records that ended up TYMHM, things that stick with me even today: Vex – Thanatopsis; Beyond Creation – The Aura; Silencer – The Great Bear; Syn Ze Şase Tri – Sub semnul lupului; Trials – In the Shadow of Swords; y’know, genuinely good shit. Some of these we maybe could have seen coming, but we’re not omnipotent, even if we [read: I] seem awesome enough to be omnipotent. But this allows us to play “cleanup.” And man did we whiff on a big, awesome record in the form of Hannes Grossmann‘s debut solo record: The Radial Covenant.
For those who don’t know Hannes Grossmann, you probably do know the bands he’s been involved in. He’s got Obscura, Necrophagist, and Blotted Science on his “list of things that make me cooler than you,” and one can only guess that The Radial Covenant is the Obscura record we would have gotten if Grossmann hadn’t decided to quit. And while I’m a fan of Obscura, I felt the band nailed it with Cosmogenesis and I’m not a huge fan of 2011’s Omnivium (anymore). Ironically, Grossmann said in his parting message from the band that the musical difference between he and founder Steffen Kummerer was the reason that he left the band. Apparently Kummerer was more invested in a Cosmogenesis sound, which could leave one expecting, then, I shouldn’t like this record as much… and yet.
Here I am today to tell you that this record will fill an Obscura-shaped hole in your soul that you didn’t know needed filling. The riffs are slick as shit, but the writing is progressive and moody, and the feel is both ‘classic’ technical death metal and an obvious development that one seen on Omnivium. But instead of feeling bloated or overwrought—something that in the result of Omnivium may have been the result of conflicting vision—The Radial Covenant is streamlined, slick, and short. It does sport an 11 minute epic (with clean vocals nonetheless) as its final (metal) track in “The Radial Covenant I. II,” but the writing is fresh, interesting and, most importantly, varied enough to keep a guy with Angry Metal Attention Deficit Disorder from moss gazing. Grossmann’s experimentation, wandering into jazzy and ’70s prog at times while keeping the pace decidedly “mid” in a genre that can’t drive 65, as well as a desire to develop a sound with all the trappings of the technical death metal we know and love, is exceedingly effective. But The Radial Covenant is a moodier and more experimental feel that succeeds where other in a genre that, ironically, can get a little monotonous.
This record was independently released via Bandcamp (as far as I can tell), and sports guitar solos from a sick variety of amazing players (Loomis, Münzner, Per Nilsson), as well as fretless bass from Obscura‘s own Linus Klausenitzer. Sorry that we’re nearly a year late on this one, but better late than never, as they say.
Songs to Check: “Aeon Illuminate,” “Solar Fire Cells,” and “The Radial Covenant I. II”