Review Summary: One of the more overlooked metal albums of 2008.
To start with the vitals, Neuraxis are a Canadian act that primarily blends melodic and progressive death metal elements while flirting with brutality and technicality. Now I’m not too familiar with their other albums, but as I understand Neuraxis shifts their sound at least a smidge with each album, and were originally a more grind-oriented band. The Thin Line Between is their fifth studio album and the melodic and progressive aspects of their sound are in full effect here. It should also be noted that with it there were two new additions to the band, vocalist Alex Leblanc, from fellow Canuck band Atheretic, and Will Seghers, who was previously a session guitarist for Quo Vadis.
Right away the first track, Darkness Prevails
, hits the listener with an aggressive-progressive riff backed by the constant blasting of drummer Tommy McKinnon. Now as an aside, the drumming is probably the weakest aspect of the album. McKinnon seems to only showcase two things here: the aforementioned “constant blasting” and being overly conservative behind the kit. I wouldn’t necessarily label this as a negative aspect to the music; it’s just that it could benefit the music so much more if he wasn’t just blasting away while the other members are doing really interesting stuff. Darkness Prevails
also features an incredibly crushing chorus riff, a short but tasteful solo (there are a few solos scattered on the album) and is overall the heaviest song on the album.
, the second track, is easily the best song on the album and I consider it a pretty essential death metal song myself (of recent years anyway). The track opens with an acoustic introduction, which gives off a really menacing feel, before the same passage is repeated with the actual guitars. It isn’t long before it breaks into the abnormally heavy and catchy galloping main verse riff, and eventually the screeching tremolo riff at around the 2:45 mark. Honestly though, there are so many amazing riffs jammed into this song it’s hard to keep track; there’s even a well done tapping section sure to please any tech-heads. Versus
is also another highlight on the album, mostly made notable by its revving intro/main riff; it also features another short, nice solo.
Around here the album starts to lose its momentum, unfortunately. Deviation Occurs
is only almost great and the eight-minute behemoth of a title track, while ambitious, ends up a bore; the guest vocals by Luc Lemay (Gorguts) are a welcome addition to the otherwise one-dimensional vocal effort found throughout the rest of the album however. Dreaming the End
brings up a couple of decent ideas but again falls flat.
Something engaging, however, comes in the form of Standing Despite
; a 90-second interlude that sounds either uplifting and hopeful or apocalyptic, I can’t decide which. Either way it’s a welcome distraction to the usual extremity, not to say that the album is especially brutal or draining though. At this point the melodic elements in their sound start to take more prominence in the songwriting. It only seems fair to at least mention the melodic and tremolo-centric Oracle
, which is in somewhat of a middle ground in terms of quality.
Seeing as how the album started off so strong, I’m relieved to announce that it does end almost as well as it started. Phoenix
is well-executed Death worship in parts and also features an epic, baneful riff around the 1:55 mark; another one of the best riffs among this riff-fest of an album. The All Or Nothing
begins with an acoustic passage that you might hear some old guy in some old Irish village flubbing around with before it breaks into a triumphant tremolo attack. The song is uplifting in nature and provides a sense of closure to the album well enough.
Overall The Thin Line Between is a great album (hence the rating), but a few aspects keep it from being a truly remarkable album; mainly the vocals and the drumming. If you find most of your enjoyment while listening to death metal in the guitar work then you should be nothing but pleased with the album, I don’t want to give the impression that that’s all there is though.