Drummer Hannes Grossmann is one of the most admired players in the world of technical death metal. At 21, he joined Necrophagist, playing on the band’s first (and so far only) album for Relapse, Epitaph, and touring with the group for several years. (I saw them play New York in 2005.) After leaving Necrophagist, he joined Obscura, playing on their Cosmogenesis and Omnivium albums. He also formed Blotted Science with Watchtower/Spastic Ink guitarist Ron Jarzombek and Cannibal Corpse bassist Alex Webster. In 2014, Grossmann left Obscura and has made three albums to date: The Radial Covenant under his own name, The Malkuth Grimoire with his band Alkaloid, and his latest release, The Crypts of Sleep.
Although The Crypts of Sleep is credited to Grossmann alone, it features all the members of Alkaloid: guitarist Danny Tunker, bassist Linus Klausenitzer, and vocalist Morean. Also present are several guest guitarists: Tom Geldschläger, formerly of Obscura; Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry; Erik Rutan of Hate Eternal (for whom Grossmann drums live); and Christian Münzner, formerly of Necrophagist, Obscura, Defeated Sanity, and other bands.
The album covers a surprisingly broad range—there are ultra-complex technical death metal songs, of course, and squiggly solos from one end to the other, but many of the tracks are much more melodic than might have been expected. Some, like “Silence Speaks,” have the hooks and anthemic, shout-along qualities of Arch Enemy, and “Hail Satan” is old-school death metal, halfway between Grave and early Morbid Angel.
In addition to his musical work, Grossmann has opened his own recording studio, Mordor Sounds, in his native Germany. It’s a facility designed to record modern metal, with a focus on digital technology, re-amplifying guitars (a two-stage process that involves recording a dry or clean track, then re-recording it by sending the clean track back through amps and effects), and drum processing.
Stream tracks from The Crypts of Sleep on Bandcamp:
Grossmann answered some questions about the album, his studio, and more via email.
I also wanna distinguish the sound of Alkaloid from my solo work. My solo project is definitely a follow-up to the sound I was producing in Obscura. Since that band has different members now, which results in a new, quite different-sounding album, I wanted to keep up with the style I formed on Omnivium.