A Conversation With Annotations Of An Autopsy Guitarist Jamie Sweeny
Murder, mayhem, legions of darkness, and bathing in snakes. Sounds like a recipe for a blistering death metal experience, which is provided by recent Nuclear Blast addition Annotations of an Autopsy. February saw the release of the band's sophomore full-length album "Reign in Darkness," and the coming months will send the band on the road to both Europe and North America in support of the catastrophic hate as the band tries to bring civilization to its knees. A taste of the new reign of darkness can be had at the band's MySpace page. Annotations of an Autopsy guitarist Jamie Sweeny filled me in on the details of their second album and their evolution in sound from their debut release.
xFiruath: Let’s get started with some of the basic stuff. When did you get started in music and what musicians have influenced you?
Jamie: Personally myself I really got started in 2004. Back then I was in a few projects and it wasn’t until 2006 that Annotations of an Autopsy formed with myself and Steve (Annotations of an Autopsy vocalist Steve Regan) coming from another band. We just went from there collecting members and it’s been great. Influence-wise I’m from the era of nu-metal so a lot of Slipknot and Machine Head. With death metal bands I’d say Cannibal Corpse and Decapitated. Sort of the pioneers bands basically.
xFiruath: Tell me a bit about your recent signing to Nuclear Blast that happened last year.
Jamie: We were at the end of the writing process for the new album. Just before we hit the studio we got contacted by a U.K. label that had been talking to Nuclear Blast on our behalf. They wanted to hook up with us and go from what they had heard, but obviously they hadn’t heard what we’d been writing so they got a bit of a shock with the new album but they loved it.
xFiruath: How does the new album “Reign of Darkness” sound in comparison to anything else you guys have recorded?
Jamie: The earlier work was a lot more crazy and heavy. We’re still heavy but it’s a lot more mature now. We all know what we can do now and we’ve seen some member changes so our influences and material has changed. As opposed to the older stuff we just wanted to see how we could better ourselves as musicians and write a more mature album.
xFiruath: You mentioned some line-up changes in your history. I understand you just swapped out your bass player?
Jamie: Yeah the bass player and drummer both left because they were in the same band Ingested. They had heavy touring schedules as we have this year so the touring was clashing and we just couldn’t go down that route and we had to change the bassist and drummer. Those spots have been filled for two or three months now and we’re getting along good.
xFiruath: How were the recording sessions for the new album “Reign of Darkness?"
Jamie: We recorded that out in the middle of nowhere in Wales actually. We had an engineer Chris who was amazing. He was our engineer/producer and he really helped us out and had a lot of great ideas. We’d never really done anything like that before so that was really good times.
xFiruath: What do the lyrics deal with on the new album and who writes them?
Jamie: We leave the lyrics to Steve who writes all the lyrical content We know Steve’s got a good mind and imagination and can get the job done.
xFiruath: In every style of metal there’s always various sub-genres like “technical death metal,” “melodic death metal,” “progressive death metal,” or “old school death metal.” Where would you say that Annotations of an Autopsy falls on that scale?
Jamie: I’d say with the new stuff we’re approaching elements of melodic death metal. It’s still fast paced, straight laced death metal, but we touch a bit more on the melodic.
xFiruath: You guys ran a promotion a while back called “Ask Annotations Anything.” Have you sifted through those questions yet and did you get anything really outrageous?
Jamie: We’ve had tons of questions. Getting through them takes a lot of time but we do try to get through them all. Steve actually does the majority of it but from what I’ve seen it’s a lot of questions about where we are touring and if we’re coming to the States or Australia. There have been questions about what kind of tuning we use and other band related things. There’s nothing really extreme so far.
xFiruath: Speaking of touring where are you guys headed in support of the new album?
Jamie: We’ve got Europe coming up but we’re off to Russia before that for two days in St. Petersburg and Moscow. A week later we head off to a full Europe tour with Suffocation. We’re looking at about two months with Carnifex and Dying Fetus I think, we’re still pinning that one down.
xFiruath: Having toured both the U.S. and Europe recently have you noticed any big differences between the venues or the crowds?
Jamie: America’s crowds are just awesome. People actually care about the shows and come out to them. In the U.K. its died down a lot, apart from the main cities of course. Europe outside of the U.K. has got really good crowds, but America takes it.
xFiruath: Is there any one show you’ve played that really sticks out in your head?
Jamie: Last year at a festival in Belgium, it was a hardcore festival so there were a lot of straight edge hardcore bands. With us being a death metal band we weren’t sure how it would go down. It really came together well though. Being the only death metal band really change the line-up so everyone came to see us and the crowd just went crazy. They were storming the stage and Steve was picking up kids and throwing them off so it was real good fun.
xFiruath: What music have you been getting into lately?
Jamie: Like I said earlier I’m a big nu-metal fan so Slipknot and that sort of thing. Apart from that we’re all into a lot of stuff. Steve listens to a lot of R&B. There’s quite a wide area we’re into, indie, metal, dance, everything really, but our main focus is metal.
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