Annotations Of An Autopsy - II: The Reign Of Darkness (Nuclear Blast/Riot)

They're back. And they're still fucking angry.
Release Date: 
8 Jan 2010 - 10:30am

As with virtually all metal bands of recent years, Annotations Of An Autopsy (AOAA) have struggled against the pervasive need for categorisation that all music fans seem to insist upon. Subsequently bundled clumsilly into 'deathcore', AOAA saw their first album Before The Throne Of Infection obtaining kudos and nods from the musical powers that be in the UK, but still the old school death metal fans were less than convinced. However, with II: The Reign Of Darkness it's going to be the foolish few that don't accept that AOAA are a brutal, uncompromisingly heavy band.

In recent interviews, frontman Steve Regan has confessed that he too finds little to be excited about in British death metal, more prefering to look at the old classics; but this aside, II: The Reign Of Darkness is a definite example of evolution within the scene. As close to traditional death metal as it may be, there are moments of ambient calm that you will find prevalent on the recent albums of Trigger The Bloodshed and Malefice. Opening with a haunting soundscape more common to the likes of Behemoth, resplendent with screams of pain and rattling metalwork, In Snakes I Bathe sees drummer Brad Merry unleashing a flurry of blasbeats before Regan's impossibly low vocal belches it's way into the airwaves. 

The vocal is rarely clear enough for you to understand exactly what our boys from the East coast of England are talking about but lyrics such as 'you make me fucking sick', 'close your eyes and pray that you don't wake up' and 'I am pure fucking hate' suggest that these songs aren't about cooking crumpets with your mum on a Sunday. Instead, there is a petulent spit with every word Regan delivers, resulting in an excruciatingly violent album from start to finish.

The most impressive element of II: The Reign Of Darkness is that despite its absolute heaviness, it manages to display a great variety in the music. Songs like Emptiness showcase the talents of each band member, with softer, whispering vocals mixing into extreme harshness, and un-distorted guitars from Jamie Sweeney and Sam Dawkins going from gentle strumming to furious shred in the space of a couple of bars. Plus, Merry's quality of drumming on final track Into The Black Slumber is pure fucking class.

There's no doubt that dyed-in-the-wool death metallers will continue to criticise bands such as Annotations Of An Autopsy without giving their music a fair listen. Who cares? It's their loss. This quintet of British talent are kicking 2010 off to a nasty, heavy start with II: The Reign Of Darkness, so either embrace the 21st century of death metal or fuck off and stop whining.

Annotations of an Autopsy's II: The Reign Of Darkness is out on January 8th through Nuclear Blast/Riot