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Monday, September 15, 2008

CD Review: Neuraxis - The Thin Line Between

Neuraxis - The Thin Line Between
2008 Prosthetic Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



Neuraxis is a band you can just feel about to break through any minute now like Scar Symmetry or Into Eternity, though the latter band is the closest with their fingernails digging into the prize. In the case of Neuraxis, a change in vocalists with Alex Leblanc has only a subversive effect on the mike since a growl is a growl though some barkers are more finessed than others. However, when delivered confidently and within the timing structures of the songs themselves, the band itself tends to respond with escalating effects.

The Thin Line Between brings Neuraxis one step closer to their own pinnacle of songwriting. Though the Montreal death squadron has always been respected in the deep metal underground, they've taken footsteps towards reaching this point with past efforts such as Truth Beyond and Trilateral Progression. As former vocalist Steven Henry abruptly departed Neuraxis in 2006 after Trilateral Progression truly announced the band to a receptive press and listening audience, Neuraxis could've gone into stasis as one might expect. In that regard, Alex Leblanc's true debut might as well be considered on last year's Live Progression, while his formal introduction is hereby issued with The Thin Line Between.

In response, Neuraxis pulls out all of their tricks with complicated melody sequences, technical rhythms and chunky blast tempos that makes The Thin Line Between their most intricate release to-date. Before getting too cumbersome in their gnashed beat patterns courtesy of Tommy McKinnon, Neuraxis writes weaving interchanges that forces McKinnon to slow down at times, then jump back into speed mode at their command. A competent drummer to say the least, McKinnon's hammering strikes are nonetheless captured almost to fault at times as guitarists Rob Milley and William Seghers lay down textbook performances behind him, showing off nicely in spots such as the delicious tilt-a-whirl intro to "Versus" (or is it vertigo?) or their rapidly-processed note shredding sessions on "Phoenix" and "Oracle."

If there's any fault to The Thin Line Bewtween--and it isn't much of one since this band has begun to really come into themselves--it's finding an unyielding congruency between the front line and the back beats. For the most part, this unit is tight and cohesive but at times, the chinks in the armor are bore if you're scrutinizing the work. Regardless, Neuraxis have a lot to be proud of with this album and if they keep some stability to their lineup (a dilemma needling these guys throughout their 12-year history), then there's no reason these guys can't claim a potential spot of deference in a compact subgenre as they're operating in.

Rating: ***1/2

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