Published Mar 10, 2011Montreal technical death metal masters Neuraxis recently released their sixth effort, Asylon, via Prosthetic Records. With yet another lineup change under their belts, the album marks the band's first release without any founding members, which plays a part in its tone. As guitarist Rob Milley explains in an interview with Exclaim!, Asylon (meaning "asylum" in ancient Greek) is also the group's darkest and most emotional record to date.
"We didn't really have any conscious direction [for Asylon]." Milley explains. "It was kind of more of an album that was inspired by emotional situations that myself and our vocalist, Alex [Leblanc], went through in the last few years from lineup changes and personal things. So it definitely brought out a lot of darker feelings -- frustration and sadness-type feelings. Not to sound all gloomy, but it was kind of a rough few years and that basically inspired us to write music that was a lot more dark and a lot more vicious than what we were doing on the last few albums."
Following the release of their previous album, 2008's The Thin Line Between, Neuraxis lost their last founding member, bassist Yan Thiel. Due to a job-related injury, Thiel could not continue to tour with the band and a session bass player was found for the remainder of their shows. "Afterwards we just knew that having Yan still in the band was holding us back more than anything, even though Yan was a founding member and a great friend of ours. He realized that too -- that it was holding us back -- so at a certain point we agreed and he just stepped out of the situation. He gave us the blessing, since he was a founding member, to find that replacement for him," Milley explains.
Neuraxis were also forced to find a new drummer prior to the recording of Asylon. "We were having some negative situations on tours with our prior drummer [Tommy McKinnon] and it wasn't a good atmosphere to work in and we agreed that we'd have to part ways," he says.
While the lineup change played a part in Asylon's darker tone, Milley discloses that much of the emotion comes from Leblanc, who tackled some personal demons through his thought-provoking lyrics.
"[Leblanc] had a vision of the way he wanted to write his lyrics, which were a lot darker. Going through some personal things helped and inspired him to really bring out the darkest of them," Milley explains. "He said to us after writing the lyrics that it's like a diary to his madness kind of and with each song he realized afterwards that this is stuff that he went through and that he's going through, and those emotional and psychological situations came through in the lyrics."
Although the band have gone through some changes and acquired a new musical approach, the sound on Asylon is distinctly that of Neuraxis. The early style of the band is especially maintained because of Milley's signature guitar work. He is also the chief songwriter in the band, as he joined Neuraxis just shortly before the release of their debut, 1997's Imagery.
"It's been a long journey. Going through all these members, I mean it's been a learning process to see how a band works. Going through members, members getting older and myself getting older, it hasn't always been easy," he says. "It definitely also makes for each album to have a new twist to it and it evolves with each album so we're never repeating ourselves. Some bands are good at doing that, but we always want to maintain the sound and style we started with, but also evolve into new things with each album."
Asylon is out now on Prosthetic Records.