Atrae Bilis

Atrae Bilis is a Canadian technical death metal band not involving Phillip Tougas. Technical death metal has a place in my heart, but it’s one of those genres that’s hit or miss. My standard bearer has been Obscura for several years. The band and the 1998 Gorguts album. The reason is because of excellent songs. Brutal, heavy riffs or excellent choruses are what make technical death metal great. What doesn’t hook me are the bands who just seem like they want to focus on their excellent musicianship. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t have replayability.

So, which one is Atrae Bilis? Well…

After a properly skronky intro, “Hell Simulation” begins with a hardcore-esque “BLECH.” I know some people spell it differently. They’re wrong, though. As for the memorability portion of this presentation, a repeatable refrain seems like it’s going to slap you in the face. However, it appears only once. This one is appropriately heavy, skronky, and displays that typical rumbling bass that seems to always exist in tech death.

I’m not going to talk about every track, so keeping score on which one is memorable vs ones that aren’t is futile. However, let’s discuss one of the longer tracks, “Inward to Abraxas.” It’s heavy and it sounds excellent, with several riffs. The prolonged nearly instrumental section starting before halfway through, seems once again as though it’s going to emerge with a refrain. It doesn’t. The heavier and darker section afterward does remind me of Obscura during their heavier moments. That’s a good thing.

The title track just a couple later is one of the shortest. It has that calm-before-the-storm sense of dread, but it’s an odd choice for a title track. Its shortness, as well as lack of vocals, seems to not lend itself to the typical sense of purpose.

“A Monolith Aflame” has a stoic beginning, seeming as if it could be an interlude, but that is not the case when the song kicks in and the brutal death metal lows take over. There’s another tease of a hook, and it saddens me they don’t go deeper into this approach. There are a couple of “OUGHs” near the end, so that elicits a grin.

The second longest track is the closer, “Excruciate Incarnate,” which barely eclipses 6 minutes. The runtime passes quickly as this is the best song. The second half has the most memorable section of the album, which is the repeated scream of “There is no life left.” Right after the last repetition, there’s another Tom G. Warrior “OUGH.” Perhaps they propelled forward in time, read my review, and figured they’d give me what I wanted.

When all is said and done, I’m unfortunately disappointed. Memorability is key. Since I reviewed their first album, I have been waiting for them to change and grow into a monolith. That hasn’t happened yet, but I’m not closing the door. This is clearly a young band full of ideas, who have found themselves, but I still feel like that giant step forward for them is yet to come. While this album is good, it hints at bigger endeavors moving forward.


[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
May 3rd, 2024


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