When it comes down to it, how much can you really tell about a band based on a single track? I’m sure just about everyone has had the experience of hearing a pre-release track and getting excited about a band, only to be disappointed when the full album comes out. Still, there’s no discounting the importance a good first impression, and blackened Canadian outfit Rites of Thy Degringolade make one hell of an impression with their seven-minute, one-track demo The Universe in Three Parts, which the band made available at gigs late last year and is about to be issued on cassette by Nuclear War Now! Productions.
Perhaps ‘first impression’ is the wrong way to approach the track, though. Originally started as a one-man project by Paulus Kressman back in 1997 and eventually evolving into a full band before splitting in 2006, Kressman resurrected the band to play some shows in 2015, bringing former guitarist/vocalist J. Wroth (also of the excellent Ritual Necromancy) back into the fold. The Universe in Three Parts is the first new music from the reactivated band, who are currently in the working on a new full-length that will hopefully see release later this year.
As for the song itself, which also called “The Universe in Three Parts,” if the goal of the release is to reintroduce the band to a new audience and whet their appetites for more, then it’s an overwhelming success. The track verges on the progressive in the way that it moves from one section to the next, navigating through multiple riffs and tempos while still cohering as a song. The track starts with a slow, almost doomy section that’s built around a single minor-key arpeggio and a very effective use of a pinch harmonic, and chanted, almost ritualistic-sounding vocals. The chorus section is a bit faster, with a more dissonant, cavernous-sounding riff and some really tight drumming in what sounds like a shifting time signature. The middle section is probably the most progressive sounding, with a riff that draws almost equally from Luc Lemay and Euronymous; it’s also my favorite section of the song. From there, the track transitions into another slower section before returning to the chorus section to end the song.
So even though this is only a single-track demo, the songwriting and arrangement of the track are impressive enough that their forthcoming full-length is now one of my more eagerly anticipated albums of 2017. As a side note, I hope they keep the same muddy production of the demo, because it really suits the music.
The Universe in Three Parts will be available on February 15 on cassette via Nuclear War Now! Productions.