Review: Depleted – Conjurations of Void (Nailbat Tapes, Sep 21)

Many types of metal benefit from a scrappy, do-it-yourself approach. I’m not partial to the idea of a one-person, lo-fi tech death record or something like that, but the more emotionally intimate subgenres pair much better with such a format. Conjurations of Void, the first and, as of now, only tape from Portland project Depleted, is an up close and personal bedroom doom release that infuses formless harsh noise textures into the standard riffs and beats. Initially, I was disappointed that opening track “Spent” doesn’t introduce any of these elements until its conclusion, which leads into the rhythmless swirls of “Depletion.” But upon further listens, this lower level of integration accomplishes something entirely unexpected; it’s almost like the noise is eating away at the music that precedes it, dissolving the slow guitar chugs into howls of distortion. The reverse happens at the beginning of “Void,” which emerges out of a deafening wave of effect-ridden vocals. This time, however, the noise stays, albeit subtly, a hint of tension underneath the ensuing death doom sludge that rises like a leviathan from the murky depths of tape hiss and fuzz. Would I have liked Conjurations of Void to be longer, and further explore this interesting duality? Yes. Is it awesome the way it is? Definitely.