Hannes Grossmann - To Where the Light Retreats
Technical Death Metal
8 songs (46:59)
Release year: 2021
Reviewed by Goat

Back for an impressive fourth solo album since 2013's The Radial Covenant, Hannes Grossman adds to his active time in seven other bands (including Alkaloid, Eternity's End, and Triptykon) with another exploration of death metal's technical side. Those who have heard previous outings, or indeed either of the Alkaloid albums released to date, will be on familiar territory, not least for that project's vocalist Morean lending his snarl to proceedings (alongside Triptykon and Dark Fortress' V Santura) with bandmates Danny Tunker on guitars and Linus Klausenitzer on bass. It's a close-knit set of musicians, audible in the songs here, which move between tech and prog-tinged death metal, all fuelled by riff-worship and a melodic sense enough to bend the ear of any fan of the heavier melodeath acts. Indeed, as before, it's a pleasant surprise to find a solo project by a drummer that is content for the guitars to take centre stage, Grossman's own battery technically-skilled and capable of showiness but never obnoxiously so. And so that there are plenty of ear-tugging riffs and leads present will not be a surprise, albeit perhaps crafted into a set of songs not quite as good as previous albums?

Yet that the songs here are still so good, good enough to challenge bigger-name tech-death groups out there, is nothing to be ashamed of, and To Where the Light Retreats is more than fitting alongside its predecessors as another great album from Herr Grossman and friends. As before, songs are varied in style and length, from sub-four minute stompers to seven, eight minute epics, and it's not really a surprise that the longest of these, eight-minute opener The Great Designer, is one of the more melodic death pieces in style, moving between thrashy technical passages with a repeated infectious chorus and instrumental motif. And of course, it feels much shorter than its running thanks to keeping things moving onwards with plenty of guitar wizardry. The following three-minute The Sun Eaters, meanwhile, freshens the palate with more than a little power metal widdle in its blood, while The Symbolic Nature of Terms' groovy tech-workout reminds you of the days when Grossman was in Obscura.

Overall, the longer pieces are possibly the best present, although the four-minute In The Glacier's Eye mounts a stiff challenge with probably the most straightforwardly catchy galloping heavy metal assault on the album. The seven-minute proggy melodic death of Dhaulagiri stands out especially thanks to a more tribal-tinged drum performance beneath the riff-trading, and Death and The Vast Nothing's backing keyboards and clean vocals are used in a tastefully limited way to add flavour atop a piece that already veers a little towards the atmospheric. There's perhaps a little too much sticking to the band's typical melodic/technical death assault, when a little more experimentation would make for a more interesting set of songs overall. Yet you can't deny how solid-to-excellent the songs here are, however, with absolutely zero filler, and so it's again a delight and completely without surprise to declare this four for four from Hannes Grossman solo albums.

Killing Songs :
The Great Designer, The Symbolic Nature of Terms, Dhaulagiri, Death and The Vast Nothing
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Hannes Grossmann that we have reviewed:
Hannes Grossmann - Apophenia reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 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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