The Reign of Darkness is the second album from the English quintet Annotations of an Autopsy, a followup to 2008’s Before the Throne of Infection, and is released on Nuclear Blast records.
Among the clutter of the various metal sub-genres there lies a nice niche of bands that are a cross between deathcore and grindcore – no band embodies this better than Annotations of an Autopsy. This is known almost immediately after beginning the album when the first instrument you hear are the drums – a gut busting fill followed but a simple blast beat – then the rest of the troops fall into place. The grinding guitars and thick raspy voice follow behind the drums, and it sounds as though you’ve got a brutal death metal album on your hands. Then the tempo change, straight into the first beatdown of the album.
After you’re about three minutes into the album, you have pretty much heard the entire arsenal this band employs – the good news is that the limited arsenal does not hold the band back. All of the breakdowns are varied, the riffs never gets stale, and the drums are on point. By far the biggest letdown of this album are the vocals and lyrics. While Steve Regan’s (aka “Sewer Mouth”) enunciation is pretty phenomenal at times, he always sounds as though he has a mouth full of jello, or is simply gargling into the microphone. Every syllable of every word on this album sounds almost identical, and it becomes very repetitive and annoying.
Simplicity lends itself all to often to this style of music in terms of guitar work, but that is something Annotations of an Autopsy have decided isn’t really the best strategy to keep a listener’s attention. At times the guitar parts are very simple (see many of the verses), but when it is time for the guitars to step it up, the do so in a big way. Solos are not often a huge part of the more brutal metal styles, but this album has a few very tasteful and unique guitar licks and some very groovy riffs.
When taken as a whole, The Reign of Darkness is a pretty standard drag-you-through-the-mud deathcore/grindcore album that is not about taking prisoners or breaking boundaries. It’s a very humble album that knows what it does, what it wants, and how it’s going to do it. A solid second album from a band who put out an embarrassingly bad first album, something that leads me to believe this band has a very promising future.
Song picks: “Catastrophic Hybridization” and “Portrait of Souls”
Overall score: 7.5 out of 10 devil horns