Neuraxis / Martyr / Muspellheim / Gross Misconduct The Balmoral, Vancouver BC May 25

Located along one of Canada’s most notorious stretches of pavement, the dilapidated dive that is the Balmoral Hotel bar transformed into the perfect heavy metal haven, for a couple hours at least. Vancouver’s Gross Misconduct opened the show with their brand of death metal, best described as fundamentally influenced by the likes of Chuck Shuldiner with more focus on melody, Arsis tendencies in riff building, and the occasional Gorod shred. Though their moniker may suggest otherwise, pay close attention to GM; they could become the West coast’s only beacon of noteworthy metal. Muspellheim followed and it was glaringly obvious they weren’t up to the task. Fronted by a man who looked like "the kind of guy who masturbates to Glen Danzig,” Muspellheim were a huge disappointment following the great surprise that was GM. Their unimaginative take on metal generics was especially painful knowing two of the greatest Canadian metal acts were about to grace the stage. Despite being scheduled as the headliner, Martyr played before Neuraxis, who had apparently laid out some road kill on their way to Vancouver, delaying them several hours in the mountains. Martyr’s nearly airtight set once again cemented the fact that they are easily the most underrated band to come out of the oft-hyped Quebec scene. Daniel Mongrain is an imaginative guitar player of immense calibre and his unique approach to progressive technical death metal is a methodology that cannot be mistaken. Neuraxis finished off the night, debuting their new, muscle-bound singer to an enthusiastic crowd. Unfortunately there was something insincere about his energy, and while his high pitched barking was definitely impressive, the lower range often suffered as weak and lifeless. The rhythm section was without bass but luckily this didn’t detract from set and their drummer made up for it with his contented, relaxed, and extremely apt battering. Doubtlessly everyone wanted Neuraxis to play a little longer, if only so they could put off confronting the dozens of junkies convened outside.