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An Order of Dischord An Interview with Coma Cluster Void
Posted November 24, 2016 by George Archibald in Interviews

I first heard of Coma Cluster Void through a few extended range guitar groups on Facebook. Many people talking about them as they were going to change the scene of metal. This only added up the anticipation for CCV’s first full length Mind Cemeteries, released on August 26th. Mind Cemeteries, showcased a new take on what could be heavy and how music can flow. At times the band seemed to have a free flow take on the writing process, then to bring it back while hitting its listeners on the head with a sonic sledgehammer. I was very fortunate to have been contacted by the band to conduct an interview with all of them (Sylvia Hinz – Bassist, Chris Burrows – Drummer, Mike DiSalvo – Vocals, Austin Taylor – Vocals, and Strieder– Guitars). I was very amazed at how much one band could be involved with so many different facets of music. Read for yourself, and you will understand what has made Coma Cluster Void what it is today.

Coma Cluster Void - Mind Cemeteries


Coma Cluster Void – Mind Cemeteries

GA: First off congratulations on the release of Mind Cemeteries. How has the reception of the new album been?

Strieder: Thanks! The reactions were totally overwhelming. Also, to see that other great bands dig our stuff. and post about us. or congratulate us in messages … all in all, a great feeling!

GA: Coma Cluster Void has members that hail from Canada, USA and Germany, do you find it difficult to be able to work together due to the travel distances between members. How do you guys make it work especially for writing like Mind Cemeteries?

Chris: It isn’t difficult at all for us to communicate online. We are all passionate, driven, and easy going people that respect the overall objective of the music as well as each other’s talents.

Strieder: This band also feels more like a family, and we can openly speak and criticize each other. For example, if I write riffs that suck, Sylvia kicks my ass, and if Chris writes drums that suck, I kick him. It’s a lot of kicking.

GA: The band has such an eclectic sound, what influences do you have that kind of helped to forge the path of Coma Cluster Void musically?

Strieder: There might be a deep connection between my childhood and how I perceive art and music. My “parents” were cruel control freaks; they didn’t allow me any instruments, or other ways to spend time with music. My downtrodden past life made me see music as the only way to be free. If I see a “weird” Instrument, I don’t ask “why”, I want to make music with it. You can do music with anything. My first instrument, around 1997, was perhaps the first “djent stick” in history … made from a roof lath, an old wounded guitar string, two screw joints, matches as frets and a walk-man earphone glued to the wood as pick-up …

I remember as kid not liking the music that was on the radio, and the first music I ever liked was Techno (I think it was around the year 1990), especially the Detroit-Stuff. Music with a much darker vibe, and not tonal, and not consonant; created by just adding cool layers of sounds, without giving a f about 17th/18th century music theory.

Chris Burrows of Coma Cluster Void


Chris Burrows of Coma Cluster Void

Around the age of 16, I got to know almost at the same time Pantera, and Arnold Schoenberg. From then on, I discovered more and more extreme metal, and more and more avant-garde, and that’s where my heart lays. I became a composer, wrote pieces for fantastic musicians, and got premieres all over the planet. But in 2013, the time was right in my life to start a metal band!

Chris: Our eclectic sound is probably a result of each band member’s incredibly diverse influences and open mindedness. Perhaps partly responsible for our excellent online communication between myself and Strieder, is our mutual interest for electronic music. We respond quickly through midi programming for drums, and bring a percussive edge akin to breakbeat to some of our riffs.

Sylvia: Being open to a lot of different styles in music – classical and non-classical – helps in finding a personal taste and mad sounds. Get inspired by your favorites, together with the idea of a perfect sound in your head, mix it up, put some spice on it, play it on your instrument – voilà!

Sylvia Hinz of Coma Cluster Void


Sylvia Hinz of Coma Cluster Void

Strieder: I like to joke, that Coma Cluster Void is like the combination of Pantera and Schoenberg. Although there’s certainly quite some truth in that, it’s more like what those sparks have become during 20 years of making music.

In general, everything can be inspiring. The music of other cultures can be deeply inspiring, like the Banda Polyphony from Central Africa, or the electronic music of our own time, like Venetian Snares. I learned from the great composer György Ligeti, that you can strip the intellectual idea (or the “essence”) out of music and make it your own, without creating a stylistic copy or insulting “exotism”.

GA: Do you have any plans for touring or strings of shows in the future?

Strieder: There are no plans yet. Bringing together five people from Oregon, Michigan, Montreal, and Berlin, each with their own commitments, on one stage seems to be an impossible task as of now … but never say never;)

Chris: I’ve always considered live performance the most inspiring aspect of being a musician. I’ve taught drumlines for over 7 years, and love sharing my ideas and creative process.

I’d be more than happy to do drum clinics in the Detroit area, or anywhere that would have me!

Austin Taylor of Coma Cluster Void


Austin Taylor of Coma Cluster Void

GA: What other projects are the band members engaged in?

Sylvia: I have several ensembles, the most active ones are XelmYa (, (a trio with me on recorders, Alexa Renger on violin and guests on violoncello), and Umbratono (a mexican-german collaboration, consisting of me, and Antonio Rosales on bass clarinet, as well as guests on violin and violoncello). XelmYa can be heard on the ‘Prologue’, ‘Interlude’ and ‘Epilogue’ on Mind Cemeteries. I also do solo recitals, master classes, conducting, and other projects …

Chris: I drum for Detroit metal band, Thoren (, whose second LP “Brennenburg” was mixed masterfully by Strieder; also, XelmYa plays the last piece on this record, btw!;) I also have my own YouTube channel ( ) that I’m working on bringing more educational drumming material to as well as producing electronic pop in Wonderbox.

Right now, I’m working on “Steps to Falling Down“, a YouTube lesson series focused on ideas that help you sound like you don’t know how to play your instrument ;)

Mike DiSalvo of Coma Cluster Void


Mike DiSalvo of Coma Cluster Void

Mike: I am also in a Montreal based band called Akurion ( with Rob Milley from Neuraxis, Tommy McKinnon from Conflux, and Oli Pinard from Cryptopsy. I have also recently participated in the collaborative band Conflux ( with Tommy McKinnon and Chase Fraser from Decrepit Birth, and an array of Montreal based vocalists.

I am also doing another side project of acoustic based tunes with my wife Genevieve DiSalvo and Rob Milley playing acoustic guitars. Real somber, dark singer/songwriter tunes created on the spot, literally everything; lyrics, vocals, music, arrangements. The project is called Fireside Sessions.

Strieder: Genevieve DiSalvo is also being heard on Coma Cluster Void, she did the spoken words in ‘Prologue’, ‘Iron Empress’, ‘Interlude’ and ‘Epilogue’.;)

Austin: I make some other heavy sounds in projects called Dimensionless ( and Selfdestructionist (

Strieder: Besides my writing of dissonant art music, I focus completely on Coma Cluster Void. ;)


GA: What gear are you currently using for your main rig? If you have endorsements, please include them.

Sylvia with sub double bass


Sylvia with sub double bass

Sylvia: I play a Yamaha 5-String Bass, upside down due to being left-handed. I use DR Strings. I became aware of their brand through their Geezer Butler testimonial; who praised them because with these strings, he doesn’t get blisters anymore. I have super thin skin on my fingers, because my main instrument is the recorder, and for a classically trained musician, to practice is key. Well, that’s a lot instruments, from the small sopranino recorder up to the 2,45m high sub double bass recorder. ;)

Strieder: I switched many years ago, to working in-the-box. The Agile 10-String is the only guitar I play. I’ve used Vovox protect cables, Focusrite audio interfaces and on Mind Cemeteries, La Bella strings, and most importantly damn cool looking Instrumental Pickups STFY3s for clarity on chords made of 7 or more different notes ;)

Chris: My main kit is a Pearl VBL Birch 5-Piece, equipped with Tama Iron Cobras, various hardware brands, Evans drumheads, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, Presonus FP10 and Shure microphones.

As I extend the search to look for new and interesting percussive tones, I am open to using different brands / endorsements. I suppose the brake drum I use is off a Ford! :D

GA: What are your thoughts on the current metal scene with bands constantly thriving for the next ‘Heavy’ sound or thing? Where does CCV fit in with being what many call the next evolution of what is heavy?

Chris: Often I feel metal bands rely on tropes that become stale, and rearrange them instead of focusing on good songwriting. Even though I can respect the extremes, metal musicianship can reach, it often falls deafly on my ears if I can’t sense a dynamic flow.

Strieder: Hard to say, we just want to make the best music we can ;)

Sylvia: I don’t listen to music which doesn’t catch me.

GA: What is next for Coma Cluster Void? Any plans for 2017 that you are looking forward to?

Strieder: We are writing already on new material, and 2017 shall see the EP “Thoughts from A Stone”, which begins were “Mind Cemeteries” ended, and continues the story arc about the world of the “Iron Empress”!

GA: Anything you guys would like to add?

Sylvia: Thanks for the interview! Stay tuned for more CCV madness!  ;)

I want to thank the band for such a great interview. I look forward to hearing new Coma Cluster Void in 2017!!



About the Author

George Archibald
George Archibald
Publié le par Nicolas Pons
Publié dans : #interview, #coma cluster void
C'est donc très enthousiaste que j'ai accepté de faire l'interview, d'autant plus que c'est la première fois que je questionne un groupe étranger ! Voici donc mon entretien (en anglais dans le texte, facile à comprendre) avec Coma Cluster Void

 -Can you briefly present the band ?

Chris: We're an international band with members from Germany, USA, and Canada. The members are Mike DiSalvo (Ex-Cryptopsy, Akurion) and Austin Taylor (Dimensionless) on vocals, myself (Thoren) on the Drums, Sylvia Hinz (XelmYa) on Bass and Strieder on Guitars.

-Your music is kind of weird, how would you describe your genre ?

Strieder: For us, our music is the most normal thing in the world. We are writing our own favourite music ;) Coma Cluster Void is rooted in Old School Death Metal, but we use elements of lots of other genres, like Math, Thrash, Doom, Grind, even Power Metal, and fuse it into our own language. Someone wrote, we transcend the genre of metal ...

Sylvia: We didn't start the band to sound like someone else, that's for sure ;)

-I heard you're using a Agile 10 string guitar, in which tuning are you ?

Strieder: For Coma Cluster Void (and predecessor projects) I use something fans have called "dissonant tuning“. This enables me to write in my Style for the instrument, instead of against the instrument. The tuning is as follows: C F# G E F B C G# C# D.

-What do you think of the actual trend of modern/progressive/djent bands using more and more strings ? Do you think a lower tune makes you sound heavier ?

Strieder: Well, certainly a good thing for my wallet, since that trend made is easy to find a company building an affordable 10-string for my needs ;)

Sylvia: We are not really interested in trends. The moment when something becomes a trend, it has already passed its zenith.

Strieder: Crowbar tune in B standard since 1988, and it's as heavy as it gets. But playing almost an octave lower, gives another timbre, it has a rawer, bleaker vibe which I love.

-Are you going to play in France, one day ?

Sylvia: There are no plans for a CCV tour yet, but XelmYa might come your way sooner or later ;)

Merci au groupe pour sa rapidité et à Austin Weber.

Pour écouter l'album Mind Cemeteries, c'est ici



The eclectic group of musicians discuss classical influences, 10-string guitars, and the new album.

Coma Cluster Void are an eclectic math metal collective with members from USA, Canada, and Germany featuring Mike Disalvo (Ex- Cryptopsy), 10-string guitar, and mind-breaking drumming.   Their new album, Mind Cemetaries, is a whirlwind of technical musicianship and is bound to end up on many end of year lists.  We got a chance to pick the brains of several members to learn more about the album, the influences, and what’s in store for this exciting group.

TO (FlightOfIcarus): First off, could you give a little background on how you all came together to form this project?
Strieder: Coma Cluster Void was founded in 2013 by me and Sylvia Hinz and based on the idea to bring our musical ideas into a metal outfit and to find people who join us and are willing to create this music with us and without any compromise.

TO (Shrivatsan): When the band was being formed, did you have specific people in mind for the vocals and drums? Or did it happen along the way?
Strieder: It wasn’t easy to find a drummer who has the stylistic variety and the grip on complex rhythms to fit in with our music. After some search and “auditioning” online, we got from Anthony Lipari, mastermind of Thoren, the tip to check out Chris Burrows. We watched his youtube channel and took him right away. Since we were always a fan of Mike DiSalvo on albums like ‘… and then you’ll beg’, we were at first searching for a vocalist with a similar style. Eventually Sylvia was able to find and contact Mike himself, who was intrigued by our demos and other works and was in. Due the auditioning of other vocalists the idea shaped to have dueling vocalists, and being impressed with Austin Taylor’s work at Dimensionless, we asked him and he was in, too! Having two vocalists gives the opportunity for dense vocal arrangements in a natural way without any overdubs/overlaps or other effects. In general, we strive for rawness without effects.

TO (S): Founding members Sylvia Hinz and Strieder both have backgrounds in classical music. Where did the inspiration to pursue death metal come from?
Strieder: Sylvia and I always search for extreme expression, and both can be found in the works of many composers of the 20th and 21st century. The music envisioned at the beginning of the 20th century were moving away more than ever from music that is just entertainment, towards a music that truly grabs the listener by the heart (and the throat). The most extreme style of metal is – at least for us – primarly death metal. This makes for us both forms of music very similar. Actually, for me it’s almost the same 


TO (S): Coma Cluster Void has a multi-national lineup. While it is hard to compose regular death metal when the members are separated, I imagine it to be ten times more complicated with the type of technical playing in Coma Cluster Void. How does a song typically get composed? How are the ideas of different musicians incorporated into the tracks?
Strieder: I think we have a very smooth workflow. We are all uncomplicated people and have a great chemistry together. We use E-Mail and facebook messages and there are not many words needed to get things done. It starts with me writing a complete song and creating a demo of it, I draft down the guitars and program drums. This demo I send out to the other band members, each of them creating their own parts based upon this.

TO (F): Do you find your various locales playing into the music in any special way?
Strieder: I think everyone in the band feels rather international 

TO (S): What are some of the lyrical themes explored on ‘Mind Cemeteries’? Do the lyrics come first or are they fitted to the music after composition?
Strieder: Usually there’s first the instrumental piece, and Mike gets inspired by it for writing lyrics and vocal arrangements for him and Austin. He has a great sense for cool and twisted “catchy” vocal patterns. The Hollow Gaze and partially Everything Is Meant To Kill Us were an exception since the lyrics were first. I give the songs working titles, which are often dismissed later for “real” titles  But sometimes a working title stays and becomes the lyrical basis, like in the case of Petrified Tears, the emotional climax of the whole album. Austin did a great job on those lyrics and his vocal arrangements are insane. All lyrics are set in the world and circle around the being we can see on the album cover artwork.

TO (S): The music seems to have a lot of influences from classical dissonant music. For metal fans looking to explore some of the classical inspirations behind Coma Cluster Void, what are the starting points you’d suggest?
Strieder: It pretty much comes from my own composing, so if you are into Coma Cluster Void, you might check out my “classical” dissonant compositions as well. Apart from myself, the music of the 20th and 21st century is so incredibly diverse, there’s lovely stuff for everyone. The otherworldly compositions by Rebecca Saunders, which can be extremely quiet as well as extremely violent, the powerful works of Brian Ferneyhough, the incredibly experimental minded György Ligeti (who made fascinating stylistic shifts over his career), or the endless streams of beautytasty dissonant sounds by Morton Feldman …
Sylvia Hinz: Some of the composers I performed, solo or with my Ensembles: Violeta Dinescu, Mathias Spahlinger, althought his music is pretty hardcore, Gloria Coates … the list could be endless …
Strieder: Oh yeah, Gloria Coates’ string quartets are the musical embodiment of eternal depression 

TO (F): What about metal influences? What bands were you listening to the most when you wrote this album? Who are your band’s biggest inspirations?
Strieder: I actually listened to a lot of old school death metal, haha! I grew up with bands like Pantera, Crowbar, Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse. I think I listened hundreds of times to ‘The Bleeding’! I remember having some songs of ‘Altars as Madness’ on a cassette tape and listened to it over and over again or how I recorded encrypted MTV Headbanger’s Ball Show to tape. What times!
Mike DiSalvo: I have an eclectic taste in music but I agree with Strieder, I have been listening to a ton of old school death metal like Dismember‘s ‘Like An Ever Flowing Stream’ and Bolt Thrower‘s ‘Realms of Chaos’ but I have also been spinning the last couple releases by Opeth and Katatoniabigtime. Others that have been hot on my list are Gorguts – ‘Pleiades’ Dust’, Steven Wilson – ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’ and the new Abbath record. I could go on and on but these albums have been on heavy rotation for a while now.
Chris Burrows: I love drummers who push the envelope in how much versatility they can bring to the table, while also saying something equally innovative and musical. Drummers such as Martin Lopez, Jason Rullo, Chris Adler, Virgil Donati, Gavin Harrison and Dan “Loord” Foord were hugely influential.
Austin Taylor: I still get a lot of inspiration from the elders; Ozzy, Plant, Tom Waits.. A far as modern metal, Adam Darski. Fuckin Behemoth \m/

TO (F): It pretty much goes without saying that your songs are extremely difficult to play. Which would you consider the hardest? Why the technical focus to begin with?
Strieder: It’s hard to tell which song is the most difficult to play … each song has different technical difficulties. Ah, Chris just said, Petrified Tears and Everything is Meant To Kill Us were the most challenging drumwise? that might be true for the other instruments as well! Though, writing music that is difficult or complicated is not our goal, I just write what I have in mind, and it automatically sounds like this. I would call it a search for a kind of “richness” in sound. I like music that has a certain amount of detail and richness that keeps your mind occupied.

TO (F): On a similar note, why a 10-string guitar? How did you come to start playing it?
Strieder: The moment I had a guitar in my hands I started experimenting with different tunings, which was decades ago. If you write tonal music, the standard tuning is a convinient tuning. But if you write atonal music, it isn’t convenient anymore. My composition 4 erloschene Bilder(performance by Carlos Bojarski) uses standard tuning, but it was not easy to write my music without compromise in this tuning. Since atonality is a natural expression for me, I created a tuning which turns the instrument back again into something convinient. The amount of strings is a compromise between the desired range and the desired harmonical principles (based strictly on my musical taste  ) of the tuning.

TO(F): Any big plans for touring? Bands you would love to play with in the future?
Strieder: We have no plans for live shows right now. The task of getting five people from Oregon, Michigan, Montreal, and Berlin, each with their own commitments, on one stage seems to be an impossible task 

TO (F): Name for us an underground metal band that few people know about and why people should be paying them more attention.
Strieder: That would be The Abstract, Thoren, Dimensionless, Nightmarer, Wolcott Falls, starkweather, Ad Nauseam, and Old Souls Collective. Just listen 

TO (F): Anything else you would like to share about the band or the album?
Strieder: Thanks for the support! It’s great to see that people dig our sound world. This brings me the following quote by US-american composer Elliott Carter to mind: “As a young man, I harbored the populist idea of writing for the public. I learned that the public didn’t care. So I decided to write for myself. Since then, people have gotten interested.”

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Flight of IcarusFlightofIcarus is a father, licensed counselor, and full time metalhead. When he is not working and spending time with family, he is writing furiously to promote underground bands on his own site, Metal Trenches. He believes staunchly in writing only constructive reviews, and his favorite bands include Dark Tranquillity, Enslaved, Poison the Well, and Deftones. You can also buy his ebook, The ABC’s of Black Metal.

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I interviewed Sylvia recently about her approach to art and identity.

Clio: What aspects of your own personal identity do you see reflected in your artistic work?

Sylvia: There are many aspects! I am a classically trained musician, specialised in contemporary music and improvisation. I’m a recorder player, conductor, curator, bass player in a death/math/progressive metal band, private lecturer, ensemble leader, founder of WOMEN CREATORS and co-founder of ArtEquality.

The sounds that i create are inspired by my surroundings – present, or, in this case of my album “Windserie,” the past. “Windserie” describes my preoccupation with the topic of wind and breath, something that fascinated me all my life. I grew up near the coast and always loved the sounds of wind and storm. I started to play the recorder at the age of 7 and have focused on breath, including breathing sounds and wind noises, ever since then.


So tell me more about running WOMEN CREATORS and ArtEquality. How do you see this fitting into your overall ethos and practice?

As a feminist, curating works written by women composers is obligatory. the world needs so see us, hear us, read us – hence the group WOMEN CREATORS. My organisation ArtEquality is based upon empowerment. we want to support those in need through art and establish equality everywhere and in every possible aspect.

Sylvia’s work spans such a multitude of genres and classifications that it is difficult to pin her down and categorize her in a very specific way. However, I’d like to share a personal experience working with Sylvia. Long before I joined the What if? team, Sylvia asked me to compose a piece of music for her, which I did in graphical notation. Her willingness to work with so many of the new forms music can take continually surprises and amazes me. You can have a listen to our collab, Birds, below.

Featured image: Sylvia’s submission to our Powerful Woman call for entries, in which she sent us a striking depiction of herself with her instrument. Image by Strieder.