Annex Theory: Beneath the Skin

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Annex Theory: Beneath the Skin
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Annex Theory: Beneath the Skin
Melodic Death Metal, Metalcore
Pivotol Rockordings
June 1st, 2011
Release length: 20:18
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Annex Theory is a Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore that comes to us from Canada. Among the members of the group is Trevor Birnie, best known for his time in the band Quo Vadis. To really introduce themselves to the world, the band has issued a four song EP that is made available digitally through Pivotol Rockordings entitled Beneath the Skin. On top of the band member name dropping, this EP was also mastered by Tesseract guitarist Acie Kahney, and produced by Carlin Heibert. Given the lineage of Trevor Birnie and his accomplishements with Quo Vadis, this EP is easily expected to be quite an impressive effort. But does this EP happen to deliver on that expectation?

Beneath the Skin thankfully doesn’t really take much from Quo Vadis, but the strong atmospheric keyboard support is definitely there. This actually happens to be a big boost to the music, as the overall sound of the album sounds a little grittier then one would hope, backed by a more traditional mixture of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore. The music also seems to take on that sort of vibe as well at times. The opening track starts things off a little rocky, and chances are good won’t really strike the listener at first due to it’s more generic Metalcore sound along the lines of such acts as Unearth and even Diecast. The vocals help the situation a bit, but not to really pull the EP from the more staple Metalcore meets Melodic Death Metal sound thanks to it’s abrasive low shouting approach coupled with clean vocals over the heavily melodic sections. However there is a strong enough Melodic Death Metal impression that it’s suitable enough to stick with, and if you do, it becomes a bit of a treat overall due to the track building up and growing more as if the band were going in an epic direction with the progression of the music, but not really making it to those levels. However, what it does achieve from this building is a stronger presence with a keyboard performance that becomes more important then anything and just helps to make the song come off a little more impressive through it’s atmosphere.

And that becomes one of the allure’s to this release. While the first song was definitely a bit of a rocky track, the rest of the EP shows a little more variety to the mix with each song really having a bit of it’s own unique flare to it. The main issue with this, however, becomes that the tempo never seems to change. “Event Horizon” does speed things up a bit, and it has a more dominant presence musically that really uses the keyboards to push a richer sound compared to “Beneath the Skin”, but the rest of the material just goes at a more mid-tempo to slower pace. This track also really focuses on the Melodic Death Metal aspect of the group’s performance, which does captivate the listener a lot easier due to that richer and more commanding performance. “Orbit” continues the streak of unique material with an evident Quo Vadis impression to be made at times, but this track is the most unique of them all. While the group’s Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal approach exists, there are plenty of more Alternative Rock moments that one could say have the attitude of acts like Drowning Pool at times, and the keyboards and even guitars really take on a strong Progressive Metal approach that push the song over the top and make it sound fantastic as it builds like “Beneath the Skin”, but much quicker, and manages to stay at that peak for quite some time. “Horizons” seems to have a similar foundation, but doesn’t really build as much, and goes for more atmospherically drive melodic sections with clean singing then previous songs, as well as having some more technical guitar chords to it.

Overall, Beneath the Skin starts off pretty rocky, but by the end quickly builds into a stronger, richer release. While there’s a good amount of generic Metalcore moments mixed with Melodic Death, it does manage to surpass the expectations set at the start, and really puts Annex Theory into a new perspective by the end of the album. It doesn’t quite live up to the expectations that the legacy Trevor has with Quo Vadis, but at the same time this group doesn’t try to become a total carbon copy of that band to try and propel itself into the spotlight with a less than unique appeal. But what it comes down to is that the EP shows a lot of potential from Annex Theory, and it’s pretty hard to deny that it leaves the listener expecting great things from the band on future releases. If you happen to get the opportunity to hear Beneath the Skin, definitely take the take to at least hear the tracks following the openning song “Beneath the Skin”, as they are well worth experiencing.

01. Beneath the Skin – 4:30
02. Event Horizon – 4:07
03. Orbit – 7:09
04. Horizons – 4:32
Overall Score: 8/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Pivotol Rockordings.