ATRAE BILIS "Apexapien"

By Thrash-head

If you dig your death metal enough to venture into the avant-garde from time with bands like DEMILICH, THE CHASM, GORGUTS, or even BLUT AUS NORD at their most death metal and NIGHTMARER at their most atmospheric will find a great new release to latch onto here. Read: this is not a death metal release for the faint-of-ears.

Songs like "Bacterium Abloom" and "Hymn of the Flies" are loaded with crazy, dissonant, arpeggiated chords creating an interesting uneasiness throughout this atmospheric listen. The technique really is to be found anywhere and everywhere here, accented by the occasional and fleeting MONSTROSITY-esque OSDM riff that comes out of nowhere to bust up the listen just a tad. Drummers everywhere will salivate over Luka Govednik's performance here as underneath all this dissonant guitar riffage is tech-death drumming at it's most song-serving. Polyrhythms and intricate patterns, but also a sense of dynamics and one of the most organic drum tones I've heard in a long time. Complimenting both the intricate riffage and the intricate drum patterns are the carefully-constructed bass lines of Brendan Campbell, a monster performer in several one-man-metal bands but who really has a chance to shine here adding texture to an already heavily-textured release.

One thing that really needs to be called out is that certain something that was lacking in the band's previous release, 2020's "Divinihility" EP, that being a tighter production and a crisper mix job. I felt that as awesome as that EP was, the sound quality really prevented them from standing out from the pack of similarly mystical and space-y death metal. On this record, CRYPTOPSY guitarist Christian Donaldson really gives the band that sonic push their music really needs. Brutal tones with just enough air to let all these arpeggios and the bass interplay to come to life. The choice of effects usage not as a means to shock the listener but rather to enhance what's already there, such as the demonic breakup under the vocals at 0:41 of "Open the Effigy" or the tremolo under the guitars in opening instrumental "Theta" is tastefully done as well.

This type of release is strictly an acquired taste, but you can definitely sense the love the band has for this style of avant-death metal they create. They aren't making music to win any popularity contests, so let's hope those who would appreciate this kind of music can appreciate that sentiment and find this album.