Review Summary: Dense, muddy, technical, and sloppy – Neuraxis' debut is a wholly impressive and mature death metal album with no shortage of the potential they would soon come to realize.
After almost two decades, Canadian death metal-ers Neuraxis never quite got the recognition they deserved, despite being one of the most consistent and brutal technical death metal bands to emerge in the late ‘90s. They were certainly no Cryptopsy or Suffocation, but their fresh and effortless amalgamation of technicality and melody gave them the edge over the more streamlined acts appearing at around the same time. What’s impressive is how mature Neuraxis sound even on their debut record, Imagery
– the riffs flow together seamlessly, complimenting one another while pummeling your ear drums into oblivion. Thrash-y melodic leads are juxtaposed between dense tremolo-picked death metal riffs, giving each song its own character and preventing the album from becoming at all boring during its brief 30-minute runtime.
Steven Henry certainly knows how to shred, bringing some tasty guitar solos into the mix, on top of being the primary songwriter in the band. The vocals are no slouch either – Maynard Moore alternates between deep guttural lows and raspy highs frequently, sometimes shifting right in the middle of a phrase. On the other hand, while drummer Mathieu Royale is undeniably talented, as shown by his fluency and speed around the kit, the drums are produced in such a way that the snare sounds thin and lacking any sort of substance, and the bass pedal hits sound artificial and plastic; this can become an unpleasant distraction to the guitar work during the double bass heavy passages, which appear fairly often. The production as a whole is fitting for the genre, however. It’s muddy; it’s thick; occasionally sloppy, yet it provides a perfect atmosphere to accommodate for both the extreme metal sections bordering on grind (“The Drop”), and the clean, anticipatory instrumental passages (“A Drift…”).
Neuraxis may not have made much of an impact with Imagery
in the underground death metal scene upon its release, but this potential-filled debut stood the test of time and still has some of the most genuine and brutal old-school riffage the genre has to offer.