Annotations Of An Autopsy - II: The Reign Of Darkness
Nuclear Blast
Brutal Death Metal, Deathcore
11 songs (45:33)
Release year: 2010
Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

I don't think I'll lose many readers if I say that Annotations Of An Autopsy's 2008 debut Before The Throne Of Infection hinted at a better future for the band than was shown there. The album was a bit of a mess, pleasingly low on clichés and high on brutality but it felt more like an extended EP than an album, meandering songs and a less than original sound not helping the Lowestoft-based five-piece to stand out from the Deathcore masses. Roll forward two years, however, and the band have matured in all the important areas. They seem to have been taken beneath the scaly wing of Erik Wutan, for one, the Hate Eternal frontman providing vocals on Bone Crown and seeming to have influenced a few song titles, as well. Annotations Of An Autopsy always had the talent - former members played with Spearhead and Viatrophy, whilst current drummer Brad Merry also blasts for Prog Death powerhouse Dãm. It's how they used that talent that was the problem, however, and their second full-length seems sure to win them multitudes of fans, improving their music in all the right places and being a pretty good Death Metal album overall.

Yes, Death Metal, much more than Deathcore. Although there are still copious 'core elements throughout the album, it's a long way from the awfulness expected - first song proper In Snakes I Bathe alone will win the band fans as it rolls in, all guns blazing, technical changes of tempo and a wonderful sense of groove propelling the song onwards. AoAA (as I'll call them from now on) haven't truly been Deathcore since their debut EP, yet their first full-length had plenty of breakdowns and gang-shouts - here, although the ever-present Suffocation influence is clear, it actually sounds like something the New York kings may have created. No true Death Metal fan will really be able to turn his nose up at the rollicking carnage here, however pit-friendly it is - and it's very much still music to punch people in the face to, albeit in a good way. Energy and passion simply pumps through the band's veins, such as the thuggish Born Dead with its "born dead - you make me fucking sick!" refrain, and although Bone Crown, the aforementioned Rutan-enhanced track, lacks something in comparison to other tracks and feels a little stock, the torrent of slime unleashed on the following Emptiness more than makes up for it, a wonderfully epic vibe really taking the track that extra mile and sure to cause multiple pit injuries.

Vocalist 'Sewer Mouth' Steve Regan may sound like he has a bit of a cold at times, but his deep growl more than fits the music, and leads the music in moments like the surprisingly melodic Catastrophic Hybridization. It's pleasing to see that little intro and interlude pieces such as And So It Begins and VII: The Horror, The Destruction... are effective and considered rather than the slightly clumsy acoustics of yesteryear, whilst even the groovier-than-can-be-believed Impale The Sun easily beats the likes of Six Feet Under and Torture Killer by bringing heaviness and catchiness together without making the results boring. I simply can't go without praising guitarists Jamie Sweeny and Sam Dawkins, or the varied blasting of Brad Merry - although it could have been louder, having the excellent guitars at the top is more than fine in my books. The production is great, making room for the Hypocrisy-esque Cryogenica to be a killer track, and eight-minute finale Into The Black Slumber ups the grandiosity and finishes the album in style.

So, this ultimately isn't the perfect crossover album between Death Metal and Deathcore - this will very likely win AoAA new fans, but the target audience seems to still be those down with the Deathcore, albeit one looking for something a bit more advanced than last time. Did the audience mature, dragging the band along with them, or was it the other way around? I suppose it could be argued a la chicken/egg forever, but Annotations Of An Autopsy are no longer just one of those bands with the silly four-word name that it's not really worth listening to. Fine, they may still have the silly name, but now they're definitely worth listening to, having distilled the Deathcore to make it a facet of their sound rather than the be-all end-all, and creating a worthy second album that propels them above their peers and makes their future a bright one. This is released on Siege Of Amida Records in the UK, worldwide on Nuclear Blast.

Killing Songs :
In Snakes I Bathe, Emptiness, Catastrophic Hybridization, Impale The Sun, Cryogenica
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Annotations Of An Autopsy that we have reviewed:
Annotations Of An Autopsy - Dark Days reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
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