Annotations of an Autopsy - Dark Days (Siege of Amida)

Following on from 2010's superb II: The Reign of Darkness, the East Anglian sludge merchants return. The question is, what were they thinking?

2007's Welcome to Sludge City EP saw Annotations of an Autopsy explode onto the metal world, only to be promptly pigeon-holed into the convenient, blooming deathcore genre. Breakdowns so heavy that live shows often saw punters experiencing rectal prolapse, vocals that made satan cry and downtuning to such a degree that whales in the seas of the world got horny, AOAA followed this up with the devastating 2008 album Before The Throne Of Infection and the equally brutal II: The Reign of Darkness in 2010, both of which continued to display their sludgy, deathy, frankly crushing sound.

A number of months ago, AOAA made the video for Stage Breaker, the lead single from their new EP Dark Days, available online. The video is passable but musically, Stage Breaker was a phenomenal disappointment. Vocally, Steve Regan is undeniably a behemoth but the lyrics are ridiculous, the drumming and guitars are lazy and contrived; compared to their previous efforts Stage Breaker seemed like a major bump in the road.

Dark Days is, in entriety, dissapointing. Five tracks in length, there is none of the rapid fire blasting, no atmospheric guitar shredding; no nothing. Opening track Buried By a Bad Rep is a song that keeps threatening to kick in but fails to do so, although it does manage a nice shout-along of "so suck my fucking dick". Their version of Machine Head's Ten Ton Hammer is reasonable but it's a hugely mundane choice of cover song. The title track does have more depth but again, is destroyed by boring drumming and uninspiring guitar work.

AOAA have showed such promise in their early career that Dark Days is a genuine surprise. Perhaps I just don't understand the new artistic direction but the biggest frustration with this EP is that it stinks of laziness. AOAA have provided us with a boat-load of crushing music over the years but if in the 18 months since II: Reign Of Darkness this is the best they can do, the future looks bleak. And not in a good, heavy metal way.

Dark Days is out now on Siege of Amida