Some bands exist solely to punish listeners with volley after volley of death metal shards, punching through ear drums with clattering drums and precision guitar with smiling, bloody teeth bared. Neuraxis is one such band, I’m convinced, and they make no apologies for it.
I’m not too familiar with this Canadian metal act, but Asylon, the group’s latest release, is an unyielding piece of metal. There’s no denying their technical proficiency and skill; it punches through the record, bashing skulls with a dizzying array of coarse, guttural vocals and low-end beatings. The shame is that Neuraxis doesn’t seem to want to take things to the next level.
Alex Leblanc’s vocals are of the Cookie Monster variety, which may or may not be a bad thing depending on where you sit. They don’t exactly add much by way of newness to the proceedings, I’ll grant, but the throat-shredding he gets up to through the album fits the desolate, bleak, punishing vibe well.
Guitarist Rob Milley is incredibly fucking impressive, however. His execution is sublime and he tears through riffs like an angry dog through a teenager’s leg. Milley walks the line effortlessly between melodic metal and dark, dirty death metal, owning the balance with a welcome resistance to the “chugga-chugga” vibe plaguing so many acts these days. Instead of merely plunging along, Milley introduces some creative glides and opens up for some serious imagination.
Were it not for Milley’s cleverness, Asylon might be more of a one note pony.
“Reptile” slithers out of the gate with a sense of foreboding led by Milley’s guitars and drummer Olivier Beaudoin’s hammering. Bassist Olivier Pinard keeps it together as Leblanc growls and gnashes his teeth.
On “Saviour and Destroyer,” Neuraxis is joined by Decrepit Birth’s Bill Robinson on vocals. The soloing on the cut is energizing and the use of tempo changes keeps things moving as the song roars through its paces.
By the time “Resilience” rolls around, it’s time for a change. The all-too-brief track begins with quiet guitar and settles into a sludgy tone that sounds like a bubbling swamp of sorts. It’s the most purely interesting cut on the record, mainly because it commits to its mood and resists the desire to lunge forward into more of the same.
Had the mood of “Resilience” been allowed to play with more of the tracks on Asylon, things might have been more compelling. Milley is one hell of a guitar player and his gift is well-used here. As it is, though, this is just an okay record. The brutal, adamant wounds of death metal are all here, sure, but sometimes that isn’t enough – especially when there are hints of something more substantial lurking menacingly just beneath the surface.Powered by Sidelines