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Annotations of an Autopsy - "Reign Of Darkness" (CD)

Annotations of an Autopsy - "Reign Of Darkness" CD cover image

"Reign Of Darkness" track listing:

1. And So It Begins... (1:10)
2. In Snakes I Bathe (3:52)
3. Born Dead (3:32)
4. Bone Crown (ft Erik Rutan) (3:33)
5. Emptiness (4:12)
6. Catastrophic Hybridization (5:52)
7. VII: The Horror, The Destruction… (2:31)
8. Impale The Sun (3:55)
9. Portrait Of Souls (3:34)
10. Cryogenica (5:10)
11. Into The Black Slumber (8:25)

Reviewed by on February 13, 2010

"'The Reign Of Darkness' is an intelligent cacophony of brutal death metal and intense breakdowns that fits hand-in-hand with the dark lyrical content. "

Annotations of an Autopsy started out as a cookie-cutter deathcore band with chugging breakdowns, grotesque lyrics, and a blatantly unoriginal sound. In the time since their bland debut album “Before The Throne Of Infection,” the quintet has gone through a transformation that mirrors Job For A Cowboy’s career trajectory. “The Reign Of Darkness” is stripped of many generic aspects that the band engaged in on past records, honing in on a sharper death metal presence. Like Job For A Cowboy’s latest album “Ruination,” “The Reign of Darkness” takes steps in the right direction towards legitimizing Annotations of an Autopsy in the eyes of timid metal fans.

The album has a running lyrical concept that describes the fall of mankind in vivid details; a bleak tale of our civilization crumbling into decay. “Unholy legions sworn to the black/toasting the blood of a thousand infants” and “the bones of the ancients lay silent in the dust/ entwined with the remains of the resistance” paint a grim picture reeking of expired flesh. The imagery is stark, lacking any of the goofy, over-the-top sexual themes prevalent in their earlier work. This change in lyrics is most welcome, displaying a level of maturity that avoids being one-dimensional or juvenile.

“The Reign Of Darkness” is an intelligent cacophony of brutal death metal and intense breakdowns that fits hand-in-hand with the dark lyrical content. “In Snakes I Bathe” and “Born Dead” start the album off with an unrelenting wave of smothering aggression. Vocalist Steve Regan drops the pig grunts and sticks to the bellowing growls and high-pitched screams, occasionally veering off into a spoken word whisper to add a hint of decrepit atmosphere to the proceedings. Morbid Angel’s Erik Rutan lends his deep growls to “Bone Crown,” but sadly there is no potentially-awesome duel between the two vocalists.

While the majority of the material is fast and unstoppable, there are moments of progression that bodes well for the future of the band. “Catastrophic Hybridization” is a six-minute epic that slowly churns a tale of the collapse of the human race, as the song builds up to a strong conclusion that leads into the chilling instrumental “VII: The Horror, The Destruction.” It’s a combo that together shows how far along the songwriting has come in only two year’s time. Closer “Into The Black Slumber” crawls at a pace usually regaled to doom metal, and while it runs about two minutes too long, it ends the album on a good note.

Annotations of an Autopsy has embraced death metal, including an increase of tasteful lead guitar playing, avoiding crossing the line of wankery or shredding nonsense. That doesn’t mean that the deathcore has disappeared all together; the breakdowns and occasional chugging riffs have the band holding on to some semblance of their past sound. Those elements don’t distract too much, but at times conflict with the new direction taken on the album.

Another band breaking free of the deathcore chains; it seems like a story that has been spreading around a lot lately. Annotations of an Autopsy comes out a better band for doing it on their sophomore album “The Reign of Darkness.” The band may get a lot of crap for their past works, but this album is the real deal. There are kinks that need to be worked out and the excessive breakdowns in the last third of the album are distracting, but the album is a giant leap forward that deserves a listen from even the most jaded of metal fans.

Highs: Aggressive as hell, sharp lyrical concept about fall of mankind, Steve Regan's bellowing growls, increased lead guitar presence.

Lows: Excessive breakdowns in the latter third of the album, nothing too revolutionary on a musical front.

Bottom line: A strong step forward for the band that shows them breaking away from deathcore and embracing death metal to solid results.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)