Hannes Grossmann - Apophenia
Technical Death Metal
8 songs (43:03)
Release year: 2019
Reviewed by Goat

Following on from two excellent previous solo releases, German drummer Hannes Grossman is back with a third under his own name. Who knows how he manages to find time given he also drums for: tech-death supergroup Alkaloid, power metal supergroup Eternity's End, international prog ensemble Blotted Science, Davide Tiso's new Howling Sycamore project, plus joining both Triptykon and Hate Eternal in the last year! And that's not the end of the list! Yet back again he is, joined by usual Alkaloid conspirators Linus Klausenitzer on bass and Danny Tunker on guitars, plus three guest guitar wizards in Jeff Loomis, Marty Friedman, and Christian Münzner, and once again it's hard not to be deeply impressed. Somewhere between the expansive, progressive-minded technical death metal of Alkaloid and the sped-up melodic death vibe of his previous albums, Apophenia is oddly catchy when compared to its predecessors, as well as being shorter and more diverse than the slightly weaker The Crypts of Sleep. Perhaps the shift away from what was starting to become a stylistically-linked approach to album titles and artwork is to blame, although it's hard not to question the thinking behind Apophenia's cover art - is there an untapped death metal furry market? It would have been an awkward fit in the 2000s, and is especially so in 2019.

Still, give the man his due, Hannes Grossman is more than adept at writing death metal that is both progressive and technical, not to mention interesting. Ten-minute opener Deep is a galloping blast through terrain both hook-strewn and head-bangable, opening and closing with acoustic strum for added early Metallica-esque epicness. It's simply packed with fantastic guitar playing, mixing melodic and crunchy riffs liberally, managing something of a clean-sung chorus, feeling less than half its length, and of course the drumming is fantastic if oddly unshowy for a project led by a drummer. Drummers are well known for their inability to ever be egotists, of course, but kudos to Hannes for that nonetheless - as on past albums, he is content to be a cog in the machine instead of the highlight.

Speaking of highlights, it's hard to pick them here as each track does its job very well; Reeks Inside, for instance, has a crushing, almost Immolation-esque groove beneath the surface widdling that only vanishes towards the end in favour of some nicely technical chugging and soloing. The War on Intelligence takes a turn for the thrashy as it leans away from prog-death towards tech-death, those bendy, intellectual riffs forming a neat patchwork of songcraft that isn't a million miles away from the likes of Psycroptic. They (quite aside from the fun lyrics taking down online conspiracy theorists) is jerky and jagged-edged in the best way, galloping along merrily and using tech-death building blocks to make an infectious standout. Vacant Dreams has more than a touch of latter-day Death to it, Dianetics Declined ups the groove density and throws in one of the most obvious choruses on the album to good effect, albeit hardly approaching what you'd call catchy. And closer The Flying Pizza Conundrum throws everything and the kitchen sink at flat-earthers ("gravity, you fucking retard" is a lyrical snippet) including a near-flamenco solo and djenty grooves, ending the album on yet another high note. However other many projects Herr Grossman plays in, it's increasingly hard not to see his name on an album as a mark of quality, especially so when it's on the front of the album and not just the line-up. Three for three!

Killing Songs :
Deep, Reeks Inside, They, The Flying Pizza Conundrum
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Hannes Grossmann that we have reviewed:
Hannes Grossmann - To Where the Light Retreats reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Hannes Grossmann - The Crypts of Sleep reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Hannes Grossmann - The Radial Covenant reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
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