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Hannes Grossmann – ‘The Crypts Of Sleep’ (Album Premiere)

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Damien Chazelle’s film “Whiplash” caught some flak from the drumming community, in particular from jazz legend Peter Erskine, for being a misrepresentation of music education and jazz as a whole. While most of these criticisms can be dismissed on the basis of “Whiplash” being, you know, a movie, there is one glaring issue that hangs over the film. If Chazelle really wanted to capture the physical and emotional exhaustion of trying to live up to the expectations of a ruthless perfectionist drum teacher, he picked the wrong genre. Jazz drummers are one thing, but German “chops” drummers are way, WAY scarier.

Case in point: Hannes Grossmann. If you’re into music with outrageous sweep arpeggios or have visited the Derek Roddy forum at least twice you’ll probably recognize Grossmann as the former drummer of Necrophagist, Obscura and Blotted Science. Grossmann doesn’t have the same level of “how would you even think to do that” showmanship of fellow teutonic percussionists Marco Minnemann, Thomas Lang or Benny Greb, possibly because his body of work has mostly stuck to one genre, but his playing is just as rooted in flawless technique and exacting precision that sells instructional DVDs.

Everything about Grossmann’s drumming is airtight. Compare how he played blast beats with Blotted Science to how Charlie Zeleny had played them with the band. Zeleny’s blasting has this pumping quality to it, you can hear him pushing harder on the downbeats and easing off the gas as the song opens up. Grossmann never seems to be expending any energy at all, his drumming runs like an electric motor.

Since leaving Obscura, Grossmann has kept himself busy with Alkaloid, an even proggier supergroup with members of Dark Fortress, and by releasing solo records under his own name. His second solo album, The Crypts Of Sleep is a continuation of the squeaky clean technical death metal that has buttered Grossmann’s bread for a decade now. This style certainly has it’s downsides, which we’ve addressed before, but Obscura’s Cosmogenesis and, to a lesser extent, Omnivirum were diamonds in the rough, mostly because they were comprised of songs that people might actually want to listen to and not just watch play-through videos for.

Crypts seems to have picked up where those records left off. There’s plenty of unrepentant noodling on display, a lot of it courtesy of Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal) and Christian Muenzner (Spawn of Possession), but those noodles are contained by bowls of real songcraft. “Silence Speaks” and “Oceanborn” make use of a Schuldiner-esque sense of melody to direct and focus the band’s prodigious talents, and elsewhere Grossmann happily breaks from his crystal clear double bass runs to sprinkle in ghosts notes and capital t Tasteful grooves. But let’s be real, if you’re listening to a Hannes Grossmann album, which you can do below, it’s because you want to have your jaw drop at superhuman feats of musical performance. The Crypts Of Sleep has that in spades. I don’t know if anyone has have thrown a drum at Grossmann’s head, but it’s impossible to imagine any drummer teacher telling him the German equivalent of “not my tempo.” Eat your heart out Miles Teller.

The Crypts Of Sleep will be self-released by Hannes Grossmann on September 2nd. You can pre-order it here.

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