It's fair to say that I enjoyed this album a lot more than I expected to, but then Costa Rica isn't known for its melodic death metal. Perhaps that's why this sounds different to the usual bands from Sweden or wider Europe.
For one thing, it's really fast stuff, Randy Arias consistently setting a serious pace for his bandmates to follow. There are quite a few points where this almost feels like a thrash album. Except, of course, the vocals of Ariel González are rougher and deeper, though he never seems quite sure if he wants to sing for a death metal band or a hardcore band. I tend to dislike the shouty style, but this hybrid of death growls and hardcore shouts works for me. It's urgent and angry and it matches the urgency and anger of those drums.
While González and Arias are being all urgent and angry, there are twin guitars behind them being a lot slower, as if Mario Muñoz and Braulio Cordero want to play doom/death but can't quite resist the pace. There are points, especially on From Deceased to Equinox, where this could be a Paradise Lost album played at double speed. Or more.
It's the tone that really sold me though, because it's very rough and no nonsense, almost industrial. The lead guitar isn't the buzzsaw I'm used to in thrash, slicing through anything in its path, but it's sometimes like an industrial sander, grinding away at whatever's placed in front of it and preparing to veer out of control. It lets loose and wails on The Bereft Ones, but not remotely like the emotion of a Robin Trower solo; this is more like a banshee realising that she's been suckered into a trap. The rhythm guitar late in And Throes Were Embraced by Silence sounds like it's cutting through steel.
That tone is in the guitars most but it's there in the rhythm section too. Arias's beats come in such a flurry at points that, if the guitars want to play doom/death, Arias wants to play black metal. Check out the beginning of From Deceased to Equinox or the end of The Bereft Ones to experience just how fast he moves. He's relentlessly on the beat, but I could imagine him flailing around in the studio not just beating seven circles of Hell out of his kit but the walls too and the floor and anything plastic or metal that someone left in reach. The result, surely deepened by Amelisa Matamoros's bass, sounds dangerous and raw.
Throes isn't a long album, featuring only six songs (plus a minute long intro) that are over and done with far too quickly. Only one of them makes it past five minutes, meaning that this wraps up sooner than Reign in Blood. That's soon. I didn't want this to end but, when it did, I realised that I probably hadn't breathed much for the duration and ought to catch up.
Until this, the only Costa Rican band I'd reviewed at Apocalypse Later were Abäk, who are a folk rock/metal band with an expansive line-up and diverse cultural roots in their sound. Depleted take a wildly different approach, but with as much success. This is melodic death with a black metal rocket up its arse and a filthy hardcore attitude, but it's grounded by some delightfully abrasive guitarwork that's constantly inventive.
I like this a lot. Sadly, given that Depleted were only founded in 2018 and fleshed out their current line-up last year, this is their debut album and the only releases they've made prior to it were three singles, which return to comprise the first half of Throes. But hey, I can just play this for the fifth time before I need to breathe again, right?