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Interesting but forgettable. - 75%

hexen, March 12th, 2015

I have been a fan of Hannes Grossmann ever since the classic Necrophagist record 'Epitaph', and having since departed that band - Hannes' career has been quite remarkable. How the pendulum of life swings - while Necrophagist have largely remained invisible since 2011, Hannes went on to join Obscura and helped write two incredible records, toured with Death and plays for technical metal wizards Blotted Science.

When I heard Hannes was trying to fund a record on Indiegogo, I bought it immediately. Grossmann's CV is an enviable collection of virtuosic extreme metal, he someone who has effectively help bridge the gap between progressive music and death metal. So how could this record not disappoint? The answer to this question lies in how the album was marketed. According to Grossmann, this album was written for an Obscura record - the twist being that Obscura (in particular, Steffen Kummerer) wished for a more democratic approach to songwriting - prompting Hannes to DYI the entire project. However, isn't it somewhat curious that a drummer had written 8 full length death metal songs himself?

Therein lies the problem. While this is a very respectable effort on Mr. Grossmann's part, I cannot exclaim that this is the finest record he's ever been a part of. In fact, the songs on this album are incredibly inconsistent, much like a sine wave - they range from energetic, highly intense death metal peaks to engineered and unenthusiastically boring troughs. Songs like 'Aeon Illuminate', 'Solar Fire Cells' and "Radial Covenant I & II' definitely capture quintessential Grossmann style songwriting, but unfortunately every other song is practically forgettable.

I do not mean to deemphasize the effort it took to record this album, Grossmann has done a great amount of work and is without doubt an incredible songwriter. The general song structures on this record are very interesting, and in hindsight, what he learned from writing these songs could have potentially catapulted him into leaving Obscura and joining Morean to form his own band, Alkaloid.

However, the rhythm guitar sections are just too weak and far too timid to make for an enjoyable listen. Death metal is ultimately about the guitar riffs - and Grossmann, being an educated drummer, still cannot write like Muenzner, Kummerer, Jarzombek, Suicmez or any of the other guitarists he has played with. His eccentric approach to writing riffs - some range of floridian death metal sounding chords, bizarre AxeFX noodles and empty passages that focus on the percussive effect of the drumming - inherently take out the most enjoyable aspects of an extreme record. One exception to this shortcoming is the song 'Aeon Illuminate', which is also the most Obscura sounding song on the entire record.

Well at least the record is a true death metal album , it features a host of exceptional guitarists (from long time collaborator Christian Muenzner to Jeff Loomis and Rob Jarzombek) - it also has Linus Klausenitzer on bass and mastermind Florian Magnus Maier (aka Morean) on vocals and some rhythm guitar parts. Fans of Obscura won't find the same level of brilliance, but this record sincerely does sound like a less melodic, watered down imitation of them. Overall, I am happy I supported the album and do pick it up from time to time, but I cannot say it will be an overly memorable record for me.