Hannes Grossmann – To Where the Light Retreats Review

I have a confession to make. I have a pathological aversion to bands named after people. Unless your name is Ozzy or Dio, I’m probably not going to listen to your album. Ok, I guess I love the solo stuff from Warrel Dane and Michael Romeo, but that’s it!1 I honestly can’t explain why, but I’ve just always thought that metal is a band’s genre. Anyways, I’ve said all that to immediately contradict myself. Best known for his drumming prowess for tech death giants like Necrophagist, Obscura, and Alkaloid, Hannes Grossmann has also contributed to well-received recent offerings from Gomorrah and Hate Eternal and is currently a member of Triptykon and Blotted Science. Oh, and he happens to be part of one of the most exciting progressive power metal bands currently running, Eternity’s End. Needless to say, Hannes Grossmann is one of those guys who has his…hannes…all over the metal genre, and his body of work makes him worthy of an exemption from my no-name-band-name rule.

To Where the Light Retreats is the fourth full-length to fall under the Hannes Grossmann moniker, and it, unsurprisingly, bears similarities to several of his other projects. Fans of Grossmann’s time in Obscura will be delighted by the melodic take on technical death metal employed here, and Alkaloid fans should be ecstatic given that most of that band’s members play prominent roles here. Grossmann is joined by Alkaloid bassist Linus Klausenitzer (ex-Obscura) and guitarist Danny Tunker (Abhorrent, ex-Aborted, ex-God Dethroned), and several solos are supplied by Alkaloid’s Christian Muenzner (Eternity’s End, ex-Obscura). Morean of Alkaloid and Dark Fortress handled vocal duties on Grossmann’s previous effort Apophenia, and while he does contribute to one track here (“The Fountain”), this time his Dark Fortress bandmate — and Triptykon vocalist — V. Santura takes the mic. This lineup is absolutely loaded with experience and talent, so it just has to be good, right?

It is. “The Great Designer” starts things off beautifully with a glorious guitar intro before the technical hammer drops. But where so much of modern tech death is all gas and no brakes, this track shows that Grossmann understands the value of contrast and the sanctity of the groove. I’d even go so far as to say that To Where the Light Retreats transcends the tech death tag altogether, landing somewhere in the vicinity of what I’d call extreme progressive metal — but what do I know? Nevermore actually comes to mind several times with the riff work found on “The Symbolic Nature of Terms” sounding like it would fit right in on This Godless Endeavor and the churning groove and shred solo of “Death and the Vast Nothing” practically begging Warrel Dane to return to the mic. The track list is pretty varied. “Sun Eaters” is glorious technical melodeath, “In the Glacier’s Eye” is a quick-hitting blackened maelstrom, and “The Fountain” is a creepy slog that should take Alkaloid lovers right back to Liquid Anatomy.

Mixed by Grossmann and mastered by V. Santura, To Where the Light Retreats sounds pretty damn awesome whether the music is pummeling or beautifully subdued. I might prefer Morean’s wetter death growls on Apophenia to V. Santura’s drier rasps found here, but the vocals are perfectly fine for the music. The songwriting is really strong, with four of the eight tracks passing the 7-minute mark while feeling much, much shorter. Closer “Momento” is ironically hard to remember after the strength of the preceding tracks, but it’s far from bad, even if it does make the album feel like it drops off a bit at the very end. But you just can’t go wrong with amazing songs like “The Great Designer,” “The Sun Eaters,” “In the Glacier’s Eye,” “Dhaulagiri,” and “Death and the Vast Nothing.”

I’m glad I broke my no-eponymous-band-name policy, because Mr. Grossmann has crafted an album full of compelling songs. To Where the Light Retreats should tickle the fancies of fans of both his technical and more melodic projects, and from this point on, I’m going to make a point of listening to anything this man puts out.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Self-released
Websites: hannesgrossmann.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/hannesgrossmann
Releases Worldwide: June 1st, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. You forget Jørn. – Steel
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