NEURAXIS' "Trilateral Progression" is one impressive death metal album. On its fourth full-length release, the Montreal tech-death squad has accomplished what so many of its brethren have failed to do: adroitly combine technicality, brutality, and melody. Is there a death metal training facility in Montreal that has been secretly financed by the Canadian government? I can think of no other logical explanation for the continuing stream of quality acts coming from the region.
The precision performance of guitarists Rob Milley and Steven Henry is the key; the arppegiated chord progressions, potent riffs, strategically placed harmonies, and striking solos collectively add up to an exciting affair. Each listen reveals a startling new discovery. The rhythm section of drummer Tommy McKinnon and bassist Yan Thiel is dexterous, yet practical. That vocalist Ian Campbell's style recalls the growled bark of a Jason Blachowicz or a Kyle Simons, but with more range and emotion, is a bonus for this writer. Engineer Yannick St-Amand is of course the perfect match for the album, his crisp and clear, iron and steel treatment similar to what you'd hear on albums from bands like DESPISED ICON and ION DISSONANCE.
But "Trilateral Progression" is more than an exercise in instrument mastery and a slew of cool parts. The band finely crafts songs, the structures interesting and the melodies (driven by Milley and Henry) significant, though without an energy-sapping gloss. It might be a stretch to call "Trilateral Progression" melodic death metal, as NEURAXIS still resides in the same neighborhood as a MISERY INDEX or (to some extent) CRYPTOPSY and ORIGIN. I wouldn't want to mislead anyone here. Still, melody is a significant element. The difference from the aforementioned bands is more attention not only to arrangement variety, but also to nuance. For example, "Thought Adjuster" begins with light guitar picking and semi-serene atmosphere before a wicked harmonic-sprinkled lick hits with low and controlled vocals and a slow groove that soon explodes into a thousand pieces. Nicely done tempo changes abound on a track that exemplifies the band's skill at weaving subtle beauty with blinding brutality. It is also one of several tunes that includes guest appearances, in this instance the backing vocals of Jason Netherton (MISERY INDEX), Pat Loisel (AUGURY), and ex-vocalist Maynard Moore (DESPISED ICON's Alex Erian and NEFASTUS DIES' Guillaume Audet also make appearances on the album).
The nine formal tracks (excluding brief intro "Introspect") are downright intoxicating at times in the way that the band can sound so vicious (Christ, "A Curative Struggle" is massive!), so varied, and so captivating at once. The screeching, caustic, and moderately epic "Chamber of Guardians" even has some stylistic similarities to the more accomplished end of black metal. The symphonic synth ending to "The Apex" is an appropriate way to close such a strong album.
I'll admit that death metal albums like this one fire me up. However, I'm not going to say that "Trilateral Progression" is a death metal milestone album. It is a monster disc though and one that you should seriously consider adding to your collection.