Depleted Uranium – Origins Review

Terse music gets a terse review. It’s not because it’s not worth the time; rather, it seems pointless to rhapsodize at length about the mysteries and surprises of a seventeen-minute record. By the time you’ve hit the bottom of the page, you could be a quarter of the way into it. Plus, I’m busy as hell and turning in this review far too late for my or Steel’s liking. So let’s not beat around the bush; it’s a grindcore record and not a great one, but Origins has enough going for it that you should hit play and get halfway through it before you pop into the comments to tell me I didn’t listen to something else. We will both be appeased by this and it moves some bits around.

Depleted Uranium scrape together the contrasting textures of the Dillinger Escape Plan and cut them with nastier shots of powerviolence. Pivoting between tense builds and haywire blasts of aggression, they try to make the best of Origins’ sixteen minutes and change, never dropping the pace for too long. The Wormrot-style title track might be undercut by the placid, emo-hued opening of “The Tear and the Flood,” but by minute two there’s no doubt which aesthetic Depleted Uranium are more excited about. While I’m glad they’re leaning into a harsh soundthey’re far better at crushing than crooningit’s during the record’s heavy sections that Origins’ flaws surface, with all the quiet delicacy of a breaching whale.

Origins is the most poorly-put-together record I’ve reviewed in years. The recording, the mix, the master, and the performances all lag well behind what I’d expect from an LP; this sounds like a practice demo recorded into a room mic. The recording is just way too hot, with the vocals regularly clipping out and the whole affair coughing under a popping dust of static (see “Van Halen Radiation Belt”). Beyond the clipping issues, the tone of the record overall is papery, and muddy, sounding more like a live gig recording than a finished studio project. Its mix is unpredictable, with some vocal lines almost imperceptible and others blaring. The performances could use a lot of attention as well. “Counter Balance” is depleted by a few quite noticeably flubbed guitar lines, and the drumming in “The Tear and the Flood” could use some torquing down; some imprecise opening cymbals see the band stumbling just out of the gates. I’m no stranger to the challenges or joys of live album recording, but a missed take is a missed take and these flaws sap Origins of its strength.

Looking past these blemishes, I can still find a lot to praise about Origins. Depleted Uranium have a good sense of pacing and do come up with a few interesting ideas. The drum pattern that opens “Counter Balance” is a particular highlight. Though it could be executed a bit tighter, it’s a very nice accompaniment to the knotty guitar lines that the band will hopefully nail when they re-record this song on the next album. Hopefully that next record will keep Origins’ tight pacing and frequent textural contrasts.

Origins sounds like a recording of a live show, but it’s a live show I wouldn’t mind going to. Depleted Uranium’s varied math-grind never lingers too long, nervous buildups lasting just long enough to set up bursts of violence, and the combination is at least energetic. But as a record it’s barely worth a full listen; it’s a performance carelessly translated into the medium of recorded sound. No matter its charms, a record this poorly executed is a joy to leave behind.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: January 28th, 2022

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