Demo:listen: Depleted

Depleted is Matt Sullivan, who also plays guitar and screams in Demo:listen alums, Maltheist. As Matt explains it, “life got in the way of Maltheist for a little while.” So he started Depleted, the dark antithesis of the furious deathgrind of Maltheist.

According to Matt: “The second Maltheist demo is out now, but there were stretches in between the two tapes where things moved pretty slowly because of everyone’s schedules. I still have the noise outlet with Red Boiling Springs, but I wanted another metal project to work on in the meantime. I also didn’t want to cannibalize Maltheist, so the guideposts for Depleted were that it had to be riffs and lyrical ideas that I would never use in Maltheist. So instead of fast and angry finger-pointin’ songs, the Depleted stuff is slower and more introspective.”

Slower and more introspective is certainly what Depleted’s three song demo is all about, but Conjurations of the Void, released back in late September, is also so crushing it’s therapeutic.

 But, according to Matt, he never he had the glacial domination of Depleted in him until he sat down and started riffing.

“When I first sat down to do [another band], I started out with repurposing some old orphaned riffs, and a couple of those finally found a home,” he says. The demo’s opening track, “Spent,” exemplifies this, Matt says. “[‘Spent’] started with some old black metal riffs that I had been sitting on for probably a decade or more. Turns out they worked in a doom song after some tweaking. All I had to do was fill in the gaps.”

As for the name, Matt says: “That came after writing the lyrics, and it’s pulled directly from ‘Spent.’ The themes here are nothing new for this style. It’s about my own anxieties with mortality and death and how, if I fixate on it too much, I can feel pretty crippled by it. ‘Spent’ is imagining your life as this reservoir of resolve, and the end is when that well is used up.”

The middle track on Depleted is five minutes of droning harsh noise. Like a desert between two mountains.

“I do ambient noise with RBS and put out harsh noise releases on my label. I also do a weekly noise radio show here in Portland, so I knew that I was going to combine that world with Depleted. I originally jumped into this thinking I was going to make a funeral doom record, but instead of using the organs and keyboards that a lot of those bands use to fill out the sound, I was going to use noise. I don’t think funeral doom was where I landed, but the second idea is there. The noise-only track fit the narrative arc – sorta that ‘crippled’ feeling I was referring to earlier. Process-wise, it was the same approach I use with RBS. I’m always capturing field recordings and collecting found sounds that I try to boil down into a broth that I can pour all over everything.”

Matt says his noise influences include “Merzbow, Incapacitants, Masonna, Prurient, early Einsturzende Neubauten, Nurse With Wound, Kevin Drumm” and many more.

Matt says that writing the Conjurations of the Void “didn’t take long at all . . .

“But since I was doing the whole thing by myself, figuring out all the technical stuff that isn’t normally in my purview took a couple months. . . . [There were] lots of dumb recording mistakes and me making processes more complicated than they needed to be because I didn’t know what I was doing, especially with the drums. I went into it knowing that part would be a challenge, though, so I guess it wasn’t really unexpected.”

As for the album closer, Matt says it all started with that beastly opening riff.

“In probably 80 percent of the songs I write, the first riff is the first one I came up with. I’m trying to move away from that, but it was absolutely the case here. The more mid-tempo riff near the end got added because my inner grind-fiend has a hard time going slow all the time.”

Conjurations of the Void is available digitally and on cassette format. While you’re at it, pick up the new Maltheist, too.

Looking ahead, Matt says he’ll absolutely continue doing Depleted. “The skeleton for the next release is already written,” he says, “so I’ll be stumbling through the recording process all over again this winter.”