Canada’s Atræ Bilis has the sound of a band made up of pretty diverse tastes within its ranks. Well… let’s walk that back for a second and say that the diversity in tastes is still within the confines of extreme metal, but they manage to make some seemingly conflicting approaches to death metal sound and feel really cohesive across their debut effort Divinihility.
In short, Divinihility has that great “sounds a little like a lot of bands but exactly like none of them” quality, and Atræ Bilis manages to morph even their most serious of influences into something fun and insanely catchy right from the get-go.
That get-go catchiness is really aided by intro “Gnode” doing an almost direct aping of Demilich’s depth dredging, even going into a half-time, ride cymbal drive with all the sass you’d expect from dudes that worship Nespithe. When the album transitions into “Sulphur Curtain,” it takes on another layer of brutality before settling into a bouncier verse and a super slow, warbly section that sounds almost drunk. “Ectopian” goes through a similar set of shifts, starting with an Extremely Morbid Angel 16th/8th pattern that might have you crying a little foul (it’s either a direct homage to “Summoning Redemption” or a really nice coincidence), doing a bit of a melodeath deconstruction by running the melodic riffs right into a wall of dissonance, and eventually opening up into a wider atmosphere.
Both tunes cover a lot of ground in not a lot of time (“Sulphur Curtain” isn’t even three and a half minutes long, while “Ectopian” is right at five), and both deliver the goods. The whole album does, really, and it arrives at those goods through a combination of great ingredients and extreme efficiency. Atræ Bilis rarely sticks with any one obvious influence for very long, instead choosing to take listeners on a bit of a rollercoaster. In this way, they use the record’s brief 23-minute runtime to their advantage. It almost sounds as if they set a time limit on themselves in an effort to force their songs to be as efficient as possible, and it worked. Of course, really smart transitions help, and even when “Ectopian” shifts back from its atmospheric passages to its earlier Morbidity, the shift feels earned and natural.
This might be making Divinihility seem a bit more diverse than it really is, because it’s still 100 percent a death metal record. But it’s a death metal fan’s death metal record, almost leaving easter eggs to discover as you’re busy enjoying all the skronk, snark, technicality, brutality, and infectiousness. It’s also a damn fine and sleek introduction to an obviously very talented band. Fun stuff.