Annotations of an Autopsy // The Reign of Darkness
Rating: 2.5/5.0 – It’s death metal
Label: Nuclear Blast (EU | US)
Release Dates: EU: 22.01.2010 | US: 02.09.2010

Every once in a while a record just jumps out at you and kicks your ass every which way. The originality, the brutality, everything that you want from death metal just hits you right in the face and leaves you dazed, but pleased. The Reign of Darkness, the sophomore release of UK death metallers (or deathcorers if you read the interwebs, though I’m inclined to just call this death metal) is not one of those records. And while it can be very difficult to write about just how good a band is or how bad a band is, I find the most difficult reviews to write the ones where you have to say “I don’t like it, but you might if this is your thing.”

The name Annotations of an Autopsy is a pretty good signal of what you should be expecting as far as death metal goes. Pretty brutal, pretty modern and pretty tight. The band does its best to reproduce the sounds that we’re all familiar with when it comes to death metal, particularly death metal of the Hate Eternal or Suffocation variety, a mix of mid-paced or slow death metal riffing with solid double bass underneath and more technical riffs with the band operating in unison to make it as heavy as possible. And, honestly, they’re not bad at what they’re doing. The groove in a lot of areas is solid and I find myself enjoying, particularly, the mid-paced stuff or the stuff that probably gets called “core” because it’s a little bit more stoppy or even nearing breakdowns. They do it well, they put a good spin on it and it’s fun to listen to.

The vocals are solid as hell, actually. Despite being pretty much just standard death metal growls, dude has great growls and they sound crushingly heavy and awesome. The production is good and thick and not marred by any of the modern production trick problems that a lot of these modern deathcore/death metal bands are suffering from (though, the bass drum triggers are pretty annoying at times). Hell, the band even uses dynamics to their advantage so that the music doesn’t get hyper-repetitive, as is often the case with modern death metal bands. Instead, Annotations of an Autopsy suffers from a bigger problem: novelty, or more specifically, lack thereof. Go back 10 years, or longer really, and you’ve heard all of these riffs before, you’ve grooved to bands like this and it’s instantly recognizable and comfortable, but the question comes down to “will it stick?”

And that’s where I come back to my initial statement: it might stick for you, even if it doesn’t for me. While it’s nice to see bands like this, heavy, brutal and uncompromising death metal, on the major label stage again, it’s just lacking the kind of staying power that one would hope to see from a band of this caliber. However, for fans of more traditional death metal Annotations of an Autopsy is a band that I would recommend checking out. They might be right up your alley, with the kind of groove and heavy riffs that you like.

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  • greggy

    You had a lot of possitive things to say about the music the vocals the production and and the overal ability of the band – you criticise them for being more death metal , when the band tried to bring something new to the death metal scene critics focused on elements and branded them core
    These guys are one of the most exciting Death Metal bands in the uk at the moment and are mixing and holding thier own with some of the biggest bands in the world of death metal.
    I believe its time these guys got some of the reconition for what they have achieved and for what i believe is an awesome album (and yes i have been privilaged to have heard it all)
    although i feel your review is generaly fair i feel your overall marking of 2.5 is a joke even an insult for which is a great album and would ask that you re-consider your rating . myself as a lover of all genre of metal would rate this album at least a 3.5 -5

    • Yeah, the band ain’t bad, but it doesn’t mean that what they’re doing is compelling. I can honestly say about most bands that I review that they’re, well, not bad. These guys have some good riffs, but I don’t consider anything they’re doing to be revolutionary or that super exciting. I listen to the album, I dig parts, but I don’t think it’s much better than “OK.” It’s not bad, but it’s not a shining example of where death metal is headed, IMO.

      Oh, to answer your question: you win by being good, original and innovative, in my book.