The strides Canada has made in cornering the North American technical death metal market in recent years have been surprisingly bold. Quebec's Neuraxis have continually been on the frontline of these advances and judging by the collateral damage taken by the likes of Cryptopsy as of late, it's about time Neuraxis get promoted in the ranks. To ensure they aren't overlooked this time around, they return with a new vocalist in the form of Alex Leblanc, a new guitarist by the name of William Seghers and a new label home in Prosthetic Records.
One needn't worry however, whatever combat disorder Cryptopsy is currently suffering from has not spread to the Neuraxis camp. While generally a bit more limited in range, Leblanc's throaty barks do nothing less than intimidate as the band blaze through a rapid-fire maelstrom of technical ability searing enough to tear open years of tour-hardened calluses. Replete with spiraling progressive guitar work, a thunderous rhythm section and a penchant for offbeat precision, this latest incarnation of Neuraxis has not lost its chops by any means.
The thing that still sets Neuraxis apart from their peers however is not their near-prodigious virtuosity or ability to continually tear off heads. Even their artful melodic moments have all been well defined within the technical death metal parameters. No, the thing that elevates Neuraxis is their decision to not relentlessly pummel the listener in a heavier than thou pissing contest. When combined with uber tech riffage and moments that might as well be a more virulent form of Meshuggah's aural weaponry, the malevolence on display here is allowed time to properly gestate.
The problems encountered with this effort however rear their head over time as the groups songwriting, while diverse in tone and identifiable, seems to lack a sense of adventure. This is no Guitar Center masturbatory exercise by any means. But even with the restraint and wretched articulation present, the songs become taxing and at times, tiresome. The perplexing part is it's not that the band utilize the same formula on each track.
Instead it feels more like they intentionally limit themselves overall in order to stay within predetermined boundaries, and with such talent on hand, this can become a bit frustrating. That said, "The Thin Line Between" is a standout for its genre and is proof that proficiency can equate to much more than a mish-mashed collection of riffs, percussive jackhammering and feral roars. But in many aspects, it seems more content than challenging, suggesting it's time for the band to broaden their horizons and break down some walls. Just hopefully not like well, you know...
(3.5 / 5)