Friday, June 24, 2011

Annex Theory - Beneath The Skin

Annex Theory
Beneath The Skin
Pivotal Rockordings

Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada) based Annex Theory are a relatively new act to the metal scene, with ‘Beneath The Skin’ their debut E.P. offering after having first come together back in 2008. And despite only containing four tracks, ‘Beneath The Skin’ is one of the most promising debuts I’ve heard in a long time.
Fronted by former Quo Vadis/Damascus front man Trevor Birnie, and joined by guitarists Sam Jacobs and Wade Forshaw, bassist Jordan Fehr, keyboardist Matt Rutowicz and drummer Adam Jefkins, Annex Theory take elements of melodic death metal, progressive metal and metalcore, and blend them all together to create a sound that injects life into what has since become quite a tired and predictable genre.
The opening title track ‘Beneath The Skin’ begins in an aggressive and yet melodic death metal direction, with plenty of technical finesse woven into the tight knit guitar riffing and the swathes of atmospheric keyboards the flourish over the whole piece. But outside the band’s musical prowess, it’s the varied vocal approach of Birnie that impresses, with a mix of the aggressive and melodic that really showcases the many shades that make up the band’s overall sound, which inevitably puts a new spin on what progressive metalcore can sound like.
The follow up track ‘Event Horizon’ takes the sound of the opener and pushes it out even further, with the technical ability of the guitarists and Rutowicz’s keyboards given a little more space to shine with longer passages, while touches of Periphery/Tesseract ‘djent’ styled riffing can be heard within ‘Orbit’, without overshadowing the band’s core sound that was delivered on the first two tracks. Interestingly enough, touches of Faith No More’s Mike Patton can be heard briefly around the middle section on the vocal front, which definitely makes the song a real stand out on the E.P.
Finishing things up is ‘Horizons’, which is by far the E.P.’s heaviest and most technically and challenging effort. But while there’s plenty of heaviness within the song, Birnie’s dual clean/aggressive vocals do ensure that’s there’s still some sense of the melodic.
On the strength of the four tracks offered up, Annex Theory have certainly impressed in a major way. Where the band goes from here is unknown, but if they can manage to produce the same results over the course of a full-length effort, there’s no doubt that they’ll get plenty of attention for their abilities as musicians, as well as for their ability to seamlessly blend a multitude of styles and genres into their song writing.
‘Beneath The Skin’ comes highly recommended, and Annex Theory is definitely a band to keep an eye out for in the future.

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© Justin Donnelly