Rites Of Thy Degringolade – The Blade Philosophical (2018) REVIEW

This Edmonton based black metal project had been dormant before I’d discovered the work of Paulus Kressman as frontman for Warmarch, which featured Disciples of Power‘s Dean Reif on drums. ‘The Declaration’ is an underrated and unique blip on the oft-skimmed over Canadian black/death radar. Paulus, along with a member of Warmarch, rounded out the line-up for the full-length era of occult black/death band Weapon before that project dissolved. If you toss in his time in Sacramentary Abolishment the guy’s metal resume reads like an occult black/death fan’s dream. Beyond all of that, Kressman’s Rites of Thy Degringolade initial era of 1997-2006 offered something comparatively avant-garde that took his unpredictable and eruptive drum performances to the next level beyond ‘The Distracting Stone’. The resurrection and re-calibration of Rites of Thy Degringolade after a ten year quietus shows a great deal of growth in terms of distinct personality and song-writing.

His first full-length ‘The Caryatid’ was a noisome and experimental black metal record that veered into sludge and a style that was Demoncy-esque beyond the demo the preceded it. When Rites of Thy Degringolade became a full band and Wroth’s input began to gel with Paulus’ they’d hit upon a unique sound that had the virtuosity of Absu‘s drumming and a riff style that pulled influences from unexpected places. Their sound could go from death/thrash to occult black and off into Portal-levels of experimentation by the time ‘An Ode to Sin’ hit in 2005. The album was technical, bass-driven, and clangorous in it’s blackened vision of post-‘Obscura’ sensibilities. It was absolutely forward thinking and still to this day makes a lot of modern occult black/death permutations look pale and thoughtlessly atmospheric by comparison. If you love ‘An Ode to Sin’ as much as I do, seeing this band reestablish themselves is hugely energizing.

And for all of the idiotic fanboy hype that sends me into seizures so regularly ‘The Blade Philosophical’ delivers a darker, tumorous new beginning that growls out polished, swirling layers of modern blackened noise atop a return to Rites of Thy Degringolade distinctive and established voice. Already one of the few occult black/death metal bands capable of riffs, this return to form offers a pan-optic stylistic grasp that plucks from their own classic forms as well as completely new sounds. The opener ‘Above the Highest’ is a captor set out to lull and strangle the listener into submission and the serpent coils itself across 10 minutes of thundering drums and guitar work that is as ‘Blessed are the Sick’ as it is ‘Drought’. The nine minute title track that follows equates the rhythmic intensity of the opener but uses a deceptively simple riff and dissonant Incantation-esque transitions for a spellbinding, ritualistic experience that boldly highlights the album for me.

I’d initially wanted to box ‘The Blade Philosophical’ as either an extension of previous ethos or a collection of lessons learned in other projects and while it might be fully accurate, the record itself feels separate from any such intent. There is a modernity and regal occult vibe to the album that could pair just as well with a group like Adzalaan or Deathspell Omega yet it retains just enough atmospheric death metal heaviness to pull in the crossover of fans in between. There is a loosely-streaming tension that flows through the record, both literally and within it’s lyrical schematics, that takes a strong step outside the confined, hectic spaces of ‘An Ode to Sin’. Although overarching Satanic liberation found within is appropriately ‘up to par’ with current extreme metal standards, Rites of Thy Degringolade still manage to sound out of this world beyond newly stylized sound and bitter lyrical rebirth.

As for where to start if you’re prone to sampling tracks I’d reiterate the previous mention of the opening 20 minutes of the album to begin. I’d also consider the track “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Knife” as mandatory listening and perhaps the most unforgettable arrangement on the album. “The Final Laceration” is more or less the chaotic, violent fallout of the track that it follows and echoes a bit of the dissonant and unexpected tonality of the opening two tracks.


Artist Rites of Thy Degringolade
Type Album
Released March 15, 2018
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Borderless darkness. 4.25/5.0

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