Strange title, right? By now you've probably heard the explanation as to why NEURAXIS didn't go with "Asylum" as the album title because of that whole thing with kindred spirits (just kidding) DISTURBED releasing an album last year with that same name. Or maybe I dreamt that and it was the band's choice to use the ancient Greek word for "asylum" that is a more palatable explanation. Does it even matter? Among the leaders of the fertile Montreal modern death scene, NEURAXIS have crafted another technically competent and adroitly written album, the occasional bit of sluggishness notwithstanding. It does not however impact in quite the same way as its predecessors.
Interestingly enough, "Asylon" makes NEURAXIS sound more like the Canadian version of SUFFOCATION, what with all that serrated riffing and the throaty vocals of Alex LeBlanc, which make him sound quite similar to Frank Mullen. In fact, it is LeBlanc's vocals that can sometimes have a flattening effect on these otherwise dynamic arrangements, though that really doesn't become as noticeable until after you've reached somewhere around the halfway point of the album.
No reason to continue with that constipated look over the aforementioned comparison, as "Asylon" is still the kind of staccato blasted, tech-y death for which Quebec is known. The splashes of melody and relative amount of compositional variety set it apart from some of NEURAXIS' brutal death brethren. That is no more evident than on the excellent title, one that ends up being more memorable than is typical because of the wise, though restrained, injection of melody. "By The Flesh" works for much the same way, though more in the way its chorus grabs and pulls than for any overt tunefulness. When it comes to primal rage it is "V" that takes the cake; it is in no uncertain terms a mofo of beastly proportions. And since this is a NEURAXIS album, there are plenty of cool little angularities and sideways nuances present as well.
Admittedly, I find "Asylon" to be less gripping in comparison to albums like "The Thin Line Between" and "Trilateral Progression", some of which may be due to the vocals, which I should stress are not a problem in any serious sense. Maybe it has more to do with the manner in which the patterns/delivery interacted with my tinnitus, causing me to focus less on the song dynamics. Whatever the case, "Asylon" seems more workmanlike than brilliant this time around, but that still makes it better than many albums of this type.