Divinihility is rare as a debut in that it has both obvious expertise in its musicianship, but also the dynamic eccentricities that every new act of quality should have. The latter is not so unusual on its own, but rarely does it pair with the former, which usually comes with age. And yet the debut EP from Canadian group Atræ Bilis has both in spades. It’s adventurous in style and occasionally unorthodox, but also confidently executed with sleek production to match.
‘Gnode’ sets the stage with a short, disarmingly groovy arrangement that swiftly transitions into the vicious slam riff that introduces ‘Sulphur Curtain’. The transition isn’t clean, but that’s fine. What first appears to be an ordinary brutal death metal band, quickly begins to reveal its chops. Change-ups are rapid-fire, often shifting between punishing beatdowns, discordant flourishes, melodic motifs and bona fide shred with seamless execution. It’s a wonder that the deceptively simple melodic break in the middle of ‘Ectopian’ doesn’t feel out of place next to the chaotic back half of ‘A Ceremony of Sectioning’ (have a gander at the wonderfully insane violin work there). That the cogs are turning so smoothly this early on can only bode well for Atræ Bilis’ future.
On the other hand, Divinihility is perhaps too much of a stylistic “jack of all trades”. Atræ Bilis effectively bounce between meathead brutality, dazzling technicality and atmospheric melodies at various points throughout the EP, but what do they truly excel at? There are a multitude of more virtuosic tech death bands out there (Archspire spring to mind). There is no shortage of brutal death metal bands. Space themes and atmospheric soundscapes are not exactly groundbreaking either. As professionally constructed as it is, Divinihility doesn’t yet reveal that unique spark that will set Atræ Bilis apart from the pack. Ultimately though, that is a small hurdle for a new group and Divinihility is more satisfying as a debut than most could ask for.
Divinihility is out now via Transcending Obscurity and can be purchased here.
Words: Brett Tharp