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Source: https://svbterranean.net/2017/11/16/interview-coma-cluster-void/

Dense, dynamic, highly complex and insurmountably heavy; Coma Cluster Void’s uniquely terrifying brand of technical death metal is something to behold. From their 2016 opus Mind Cemeteries, to their recently-released EP Thoughts From a Stone, it is clear that the sextet are on a path towards death metal greatness, refusing to sacrifice their singular artistic vision. Their music is meticulously constructed yet devastatingly chaotic, bringing together the best that technical and experimental metal has to offer.

Svbterranean recently caught up with five-sixths of the band to discuss their approach to their music, their new recording and more.

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Could you please introduce yourself and your role in Coma Cluster Void?
Mike: I’m Mike and I do a lot of screaming and writing of some words.

Chris: I’m Chris and I record my drum-set being thrown down the stairs!

Sylvia: Hello, i am Sylvia Hinz and i love to destroy bass lines and other stuff.

Austin: I’m Austin, I yell at microphones.

John: Hi, I’m John Strieder and I am the artistic director of the band. I write the music, play the guitars, do the mixing and mastering, the artworks and illustrations.

How did the band come together?
Sylvia: John and I always felt drawn towards extreme forms of music, like dissonant art music and metal, and at some point John wanted to pursue our ideas in a metal setting. It took us a while to search for the right people for this project: passionate and reliable people, owning the gear needed to record from home, so we won’t have to face regional limits regarding the choice of comrades for CCV.

Mike: Both John and Sylvia reached out to me online expressing their interest in having me check out some music snippets that they were putting together for CCV. I am typically a bit guarded when receiving emails like this but I checked it out of course and immediately fell in love with what they were doing. It was an absolute no brainer to join in their vision.

Chris: My friend and Thoren guitarist, Anthony Lipari, introduced me to John and after exchanging Spaceballs memes in Facebook chat, the rest was history.

Austin: I had worked on an online collaboration with Anthony Columbus, who said he had some ‘secret german technology’ to produce it (that was John). Later John contacted me in regards to being one of the CCV vocalists.

How do you feel the band’s sound, or your approach to writing for the band, has changed since its inception?
John: I have a sort of map in my head of things I want to do, but this map expands along as well, because every new option creates new branches of options. There’s a german expression … “not to fall into the house with the door”. We want to take people on a journey, “Mind Cemeteries” was the beginning, “Thoughts From A Stone” takes things further.

Mike: Mind Cemeteries was the first experience in sending files back and forth and not jamming with a band in the same room. Once I was able to get passed the traditional way of writing/playing, it was very easy to work in this fashion. The songs (and John) have pushed me to new limits in writing, which I welcome. As an artist I never want to stay pigeon-holed and CCV has allowed myself to expand my writing style and arrangement focus. Through both releases, this expansion has been prominent.

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How do you feel writing and performing with Coma Cluster Void has pushed you as a musician?
Austin: In order to fit vocals to the material, I had to wrap my mind around it first. I do this not through the numbers and structure of the song, but the mood and story being told. The instruments create such a dense canvas, getting lost can be easy and make it tempting to just follow a single instrument or sing ‘over’ the music. Finding the medium between the two has been the real journey thus far for me. Matching the vocal performances of others [for a natural doubling] can pose quite a challenge as well!

Mike: I agree with what Austin has to say, I too had to listen to the material over and over to really figure it all out. Once it starts to make sense, then the placement and arrangements begin to form.

Sylvia: For me, finding the time to play the bass besides my classical and experimental endeavours was a struggle at first, but after a while, and in correspondence and exchange with the others, i was able to create time frames for the work on CCV.

Chris: The rhythmic ideas presented are unlike anything I could get away with in any other band. Sure, some bands might throw in odd time signatures, polyrhythms, or metric modulations, but even those have conventions. We expand further on layered polyrhythms, complex tuplets, tempo modulations and making every measure ebb and flow in a way you haven’t heard before in metal.

John: But of course, in the end, the song is the most important thing. Let me give an example: When we stack multiple layers of polyrhythms and subdivisions in the later part of “Thoughts From A Stone” (the accompaniment of Sylvia’s mezzo soprano vocals) it is to express an flood of feeling(s). It’s an allegory:„flood“ is derived from “flood of water”, and becomes here a “flood of notes”.

Thoughts from a Stone is essentially one longer piece of music in which all tracks move seamlessly into one another. Was it the band’s intention to create one flowing piece or did everything come together organically during the writing process?
Mike: This had been planned out from the get-go: a 22 minute opus with a variety of moods, colors and textures for the listener to interpret. Once John presented the skeleton in both written and musical direction, it was time to hunker down and work our parts into the body of the composition. It was without a doubt the most challenging piece of music that I have personally worked on. For many years I have wanted to be involved with a long song like this so once it was completed and we (Gen and I) were able to just sit down with headphones and take it all in, I too couldn’t be more proud of what we did collectively.

John: I usually start with an overall vision of a piece, and then make it more and more detailed. I created an overview of the form and shared it with my band mates, at the end I had a PDF with a letter and a description for each Riff/Part: What is their place, what is their function, and so on. This way, the rest of the band had an orientation guide at hand. It was important for me to continue seamlessly where Mind Cemeteries has left the listener: The last we hear on “Mind Cemeteries” is the sentence “through death we part”, first screamed, then spoken. The first thing we hear on “Thoughts From A Stone” is the same sentence, now even softer. In the same way, we hear in the Prologue, Interlude and Epilogue of “Mind Cemeteries” Sylvia singing (humming) into the double bass recorder while playing, she continues that in the Introduction of Thoughts From A Stone, but then in the middle, she goes from humming into a soft singing style, then into a strong mezzo-soprano voice, and then into scream. TFAS ends with Sylvia humming the same melody into the double bass recorder, as she did in the beginning of Mind Cemeteries, to finally close the circle. I like to describe large bows in music. There were actually some lyrical cites from Mind Cemeteries planned (even recorded), but we decided to drop those … after all, things shouldn’t be too obvious ;)

How would you compare it to your previous full-length, Mind Cemeteries?
John: Personally I don’t think it’s of much use to compare them. Despite being set in the same world, they tell different stories, thus the music is different.

Sylvia: It’s the same band :D

 

What were some of the challenges faced, if any were faced, during the writing process of Thoughts from a Stone?
Chris: The piece’s base are quintuplets at 80 bpm. However, in a drumming context, some phrases felt better to play in a different subdivision and tempo. Coordinating tempo modulations online was not the easiest, which resulted in some interesting and nuanced phrase lengths and transitions. It was the most challenging thing I ever recorded. I didn’t think I would be able to do what I did in a metal context. I’m super proud!

Sylvia: It’s always a challenge to give the bass lines its own special character, next to the 10-string guitar.

John: The bass often has a key role, since multiple riffs throughout the album are based on the same quintuplet motif we hear in the first Riff. It is supposed to remind the listener where a “new” riff originated from.

What are some of the themes explored on Thoughts from a Stone and what does the title imply?
John: It’s a picture I carried for a long while with me: What if we could hear the thoughts of a stone that is corroding throughout the aeons, seeing formation and extinction of all kinds? Or, even not that. Just that the stone thinks. But of course, „stone“ is also a synonym for the planet we live on.

In general, where do the band’s lyrics and themes draw influence from?
Mike: You know, a lot of the themes over the first record are based on real life scenarios and how we cope with loss, depression, character building ordeals and everyday life as individuals. Yes, it may be one person’s take lyrically but most people can relate in some degree or another.

How do you feel the music on Thoughts from a Stone compliments its themes, or vice versa?
Austin: I feel like the theme and music aren’t separate from each other, it’s but one thought. The dynamics and textures paint a vivid picture of a twisted world, the Iron Empress, and her kin. The wordsand characters portrayed create a need for the music.

Mike: In the case of the song Iron Empress and the lyrical approach for TFAS, it’s a fictional character with an undertone of real life moments and perceptions. John and I had discussed the theme for TFAS well in advance, pretty much right after MC was released so there was plenty of time to mull everything over and properly set the tone of the song.

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How does the artwork tie into the concepts of the record?
John: A lot of things we do are based on allegories, archaic ones as well as our own ones. Things can mean multiple things at the same time. Like mentioned, this goes down far into the musical micro- and macrocosm, but also the lyrics, and in addition the artwork. Within the Artwork, I interpreted the „Thoughts From A Stone“ as to us seeing the „brain“ of the „stone“, as temples of gigantic labyrinthic stone fractals, labyrinthic like the music …

Coma Cluster Void utilizes dissonance heavily in its music. What do you feel dissonance adds to CCV’s music and heavy music as a whole?
John: It’s what attracted me to metal in the first place. It’s what makes the difference between Iron Maiden and Slayer. Slayer use “dissonant melodies (riffs)” which doesn’t fit the diatonic scale. Sometimes they play them in parallel minor thirds (sometimes parallel major thirds), annulling the diatonic scale even more. All this resulting in their dark and brutal tone. That’s one of the reasons “Reign in Blood” is so great: The pureness of it.
I have the feeling that in the metal community today, “dissonance” is only associated with “screechy” chords, while it actually has been about the whole dark side of metal, all the time.

Chris: I just don’t think you can sound as aggressive as possible without using dissonance. There’s a quality to it, when arranged correctly, that presents a unique and suffocating atmosphere.

John: The whole theme is rather complex, and it’s hard to make a short statement that is true for all cases, and it also depends on your background. In the classical sense, there are only two consonant chords, everything else is considered dissonant. On the other hand, in the classical sense, all Jazz chords are considered dissonant, whereas in their sense within Jazz they aren’t! Personally, I care only about how much I like sounds and how much those sounds are capable of expressing my emotions. My natural language is dissonant and atonal, and it’s all from the heart.

In your opinion, what are some of the pros and cons of modern technical death metal, or even metal general? How do you feel Coma Cluster Void sticks out among the crowd?
John: For me, it’s a predetermined chamber ensemble of instruments. If you listen to a record or visit a concert with string quartets from various composers from the 18th century up to today, every piece has the same instruments and the same sound, yet the music can be totally different. You have to create your individuality with the composition itself. This is quite fascinating for me: the way of thinking music from different minds poured into the same form! Coma Cluster Void is my take on the predetermined “metal ensemble” (two Guitars, one bass, one drum kit plus vocals). This is also the reason why we don’t use overdubs (like ambience guitar or Soli) or doublings, because if in a String Quartet apparently an third Violinist jumps on the stage, the idea is killed, haha!

Austin: When I heard the CCV material years ago I was blown away, it was some of the heaviest audio I had found, just insane. Then John sent me the first track to do vocals to and I was taken back by the honest, emotive lyrics Mike had written. It wasn’t cookie cutter metal themes like ‘corpse rot snot shot’ or ‘sub-human organism meta-consciousness imploder’. I have been out of the death metal thing for awhile. It all seemed to mush together as the computers took over. Not only are performances being stripped of emotion, there is no real substance in lots of it anyways. CCV is a beast of details and depth, so much thought goes into each release that even after repeated listens, there is always more to hear and learn.

Sylvia: We aim to follow our own path musically and lyrically.

Chris: I find it suffocating to think you have to play to any implied pros or cons of a genre. My tastes evolve and I do what I like to do; as should other people, even if it doesn’t “break the mold” you should still have fun! That being said, I just really like injecting my brand of math and groove into an ensemble, and I study techniques to constantly develop my personal type of phrasing.

Any final words or thoughts?
Austin: Thanks for the interview! We are still just scratching the surface, stay unconventionally tuned for more.

 

Follow Coma Cluster Void on Facebook and purchase Thoughts From a Stone from here.

Source: https://ninecircles.co/2017/11/01/profile-mike-disalvo-of-coma-cluster-void/

Profile: Mike DiSalvo of Coma Cluster Void

That name ring a bell? It should and especially for ’98 and ’00 Crytopsy fans. With memory jogged, Mike Disalvo‘s new digs Coma Cluster Void recently released their second album Thoughts From a Stonewhich is an amazing 21 plus minute journey through dissonance, mathy prog, technical death metal and downright dark soundscapes. This amalgam is thrown around a lot, particularly as of late, but this band actually delivers and successfully so. They push boundaries and give the listener a ton to chew on and a ton to think about while keeping things fresh and exhilarating. We recently had the opportunity to ask DiSalvo our set of Profile questions so head inside to see what he had to say but also to hear the album for yourself.

Coma Cluster Void - Thoughts From a Stone

How did you first get into playing music and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve?

When I was a kid I always gravitated towards music and remembering lyrics and patterns. Back then it was my parents music which was alot of AM Gold type tunes and of course the oldies. They had a record player that you could stack 45’s which would act like a jukebox and they had tons of them with artists like The Beatles, Elvis, Fats Domino, Nat King Cole, stuff like that and I would sit in front of the speakers and just take it all in. I think I was 11 years old when I got my first cassette, it was Journey – Evolution, which I played the shit out of. Next was Zeppelin IV. I eventually became an unstoppable music buyer. Everytime I would get $20 for my birthday or a holiday, I spent it on music. Fast forward to when I was 17 years old, I acted on my dream to start a band but I played no instruments (except for trying a short clarinet stint around 12 years old) so fat chance right? My friends were dabbling with guitars and drums and one of them had an old reporters mic so I stepped on up at a small ham-jam and sang like complete shit…but it was my start. From then on, we would get together with other friends who were learning how to play and eventually over these little get togethers, I started to find my voice. My rhythm was stable, my voice was not. I built on all of it from there. Success wise, sure I am super happy with what I have achieved. Not everyone has the experiences that I have had through music, I mean just the people alone that I have met over the years and the incredibly gifted musicians that I have shared a stage, studio or jam space with is success enough.

What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? If you don’t have a story please tell us any embarrassing story.

My first actual gigging band was Skeletal Onslaught, an unfortunate name but a major stepping stone in my career. They were my friends and we learned a lot together. We gigged around the Boston area and a few places in New Hampshire and I finally had the big idea to call up The Channel (a famed club in Boston) to see if we could get on a show. It was super far fetched that we would ever get in there but I tried to book us anyways. I reach the booker and right away he says “Oh yeah, you guys are the ones that called about opening for the Morbid Angel gig, right?” To which my immediate answer was ” Yep, that’s us”! He gave us the opening spot for Morbid Angel who was touring for Alters of Madness. Of course this was my first time calling and some other band just got knocked off the bill, haha. That was my first “big show”.

What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?

The great things I see are more and more bands pushing metal to new boundaries. Growth is good, it keeps the scene alive and well. The worst; there is too much shit talking about bands. In the grand scheme of things, the scene is small and it needs the support of the metal community. You may have an opinion but I always wonder why that opinion becomes so personal towards a band you might not like. Wishing somebody dead or personally attacking someone’s integrity because they don’t play your style of metal is absurd. Unity goes a lot further for a scene than picking apart musician’s abilities or decisions on which musical direction they want to go. Again, I am not saying that you can’t form an opinion on whether you think an album sucks or not, just why be so divisive with written or verbal comments. Metal has always been the outsider, let’s keep the shit talkin’ to pop music.

It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music? (This question is especially appropriate for you since your music is quite an outlet for your physical and emotional pains).

Well, I used to write on the political side of things when I was younger but I eventually moved out of that phase in terms of lyrical approach. When I do write in that vein, I never use those lyrics anyways, they sit in my black book for my eyes only really. It’s not because I can’t share my political opinions, it’s more like I don’t need to share them openly in this format. Lyrically, some subjects might sneak into a song but it is generally in an indirect way. I don’t need my lyrical content to speak for me in this medium, I can do that myself out of the music context. Issues like social equality, freedom of speech, anti-racism, political preference or an array of others are very important to me, however those subjects may not find themselves directly written about in my passages.

What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?

The easy answer here is AC/DC or Zeppelin but it was probably more like Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath that pushed me to look deeper. All four bands I was big into (still am) but as my tastes got heavier, the more I searched out bands. Like I was saying earlier, it got to a point where I would spend $100 in one shot and get 10 cassettes, knowing probably 3 bands and taking a chance on 7 others, most of them metal. No internet back then equals roll the dice on albums. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. I am a metal fan til’ the end. My family…well they were concerned. That said, much to his dismay my Father did buy me my first PA system. Without that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?

Good question! In short, I’m not sure I have an answer for that. There are soooooo many bands out there now, not everyone of them can get plugged in the same fashion as a more house-hold name would but perhaps more coverage could be given to smaller up and coming acts in the larger print media outlets. It’s an important job you guys got, to this day I read reviews and often seek out bands because of them. A smartly written review will get me off my ass to find out what a record is all about. I am constantly looking for new albums to listen to, most of them came from reading a critic’s well written review.

What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.

I can safely say that Coma Cluster Void’s goal is to create music that permeates the soul in ways that are infrequently experienced. We push musical boundaries and we push ourselves to be better by getting out of our comfort zones. Anyone can release the same record with the same patterns and same song structure album after album; we choose to take it to the next level on all fronts. I don’t want to do the same shit I have done before, I want to grow as a musician, approach things in a different light and expand on ideas. John Strieder has enabled this for us. May the cult of CCV begin…

When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)

At present, I am hooked on Wolves In The Throne Room – Thrice Woven, Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?, Popul Vuh – Nosferatu OST, Eye – Vision and Ageless Light, Mastodon – Emperor of Sand, Dan Auerbach – Waiting On A Song and Pallbearer – Heartless, to name a handful. I have an eclectic taste in music, the only styles I won’t listen to is straight up country and bubble gum pop.

Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)

Terrifying.

Many thanks to Mike for his time!


Thoughts From a Stone is available now on Translation Loss Records. For more information on Coma Cluster Void visit their official website.

Source: https://tometal.com/october-2017-highlights-transcending-obscurity-webzine-staff/

Coma Cluster Void (USA/Canada/Germany) -Thoughts From A Stone (Experimental Death Metal, Translation Loss Records)

Coma Cluster Void burst onto the scene in 2016 with their debut Mind Cemeteries. Melding near-atonal riffing and mercurial time-signature changes with an ultra-aggressive dual vocal attack courtesy of Mike DiSalvo (ex-Cryptopsy) and Austin Taylor (Dimensionless), the album was a unique and challenging listen. Follow-up Thoughts From A Stone is a different beast, taking form as a single, sprawling 23-minute composition. John Strieder’s 10-strong guitar is as crushing, grooving, and agile as ever, Sylvia Hinz’s bubbling bass is much louder in the mix and Chris Burrows’ drumming is octopus-like. And a horde of vocal contributors rant, roar, shriek, and even sing, producing a soundtrack to mental breakdown like nothing I’ve heard before. A truly difficult, but rewarding and memorable experience. ~ Wyeth Holman

Source: http://deadrhetoric.com/reviews/coma-cluster-void-thoughts-from-a-stone-transition-loss/

Coma Cluster Void stirred up plenty of dissonant madness on their debut, 2016’s Mind Cemeteries. Conjuring up images and sounds of the most forward-thinking and crazed music out there (a la Pyrrhon and Imperial Triumphant), they brought forth some eerie and chaotic material in a way that brought them into a path of their own. The 1-track, 21-minute “Thoughts from a Stone” continues their eccentric and unique growth in ways that lovers of the truly extreme should find exciting and unsettling.

It takes both finesse and a willingness to go around the rulebook when devising songs that push past the double-digit barrier. Coma Cluster Void seems to double-down on what worked for them with their previous effort and develop it into new and interesting directions. Three vocalists share some screaming/growling duties (Mike DiSalvo, Austin Taylor, and Genevieve DiSalvo), which gives it an unpredictable aspect in vocals alone. Bassist Sylvia Hinz may be the one that ends up terrifying the listener the most though from a vocal perspective, with some haunting poetic spoken-word segments that can be chilling (in the best way). But a song like this isn’t exactly all about the vocals, and the ambience and atmosphere make or break it. While the band can toss the fury and chaos up to 11 when needed (and do on several occasions), it’s the feelings of dread and despair that feel the most urgent. Unnerving, dissonant riffs lurk among cello and occasional violin to create a bleak and intriguing blend. There’s the feeling that you don’t know what is coming around the next corner – some math-y riffs, unhinged growls, frantic blastbeats, murky atmospherics, ritualistic spoken word, or rumbling low-end. Expect the unexpected as the song continues to progress.

Like its predecessor, don’t expect to grapple with everything that Coma Cluster Void has done on the first few listens. They set the extremity bar quite high, and the unique setting is one that can take some getting used to. But patience is rewarded with an album that feels as innovative as it does twisted. Equally spooky and engrossing, Coma Cluster Void is a band to watch as they continue to rise.