Reviews (Mind Cemeteries)

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How much you like your spleen?  I mean, you don't need it, do you? Can you get on quite fine without it?  You may want to say goodbye just in case, as listening to the debut release from international avant-garde death metal band Coma Cluster Void, Mind Cemeteries, may see yours liquidized into a fine, meaty paste.  Utilizing chthonic abominations of science (also known as 10 string guitars) the quintet, featuring ex-Cryptopsy vocalist Mike DiSalvo, have crafted a pummeling, miasmic slab of death metal that is as cerebral as it is crushing, twisting the modern technical formula to create something quite special.

 Coma Cluster Void are a high technical band, but not in the same flashy school as Beyond Creation(not that there's anything wrong with that) but something far more subtle. Using their considerable technical muscle, the band have created a series of chaotic soundscapes that merge the off-kilter, coiling syncopation of modern progressive bands like Meshuggah with the dissonant riffmanship of Dysrhythmia, Gorguts and Artificial Brain. Mind-bending, angular riffing articulated with a mathcore feel, meet the menacing drones of the hyper-extended range of the guitar of Strieder to create a chaotic explosion of metal that is dripping with atmosphere.  Mind Cemeteries can best be described as the sound your brain would make as is being sucked through a black hole to some vast, non-Euclidian plane. Something that I didn’t think I needed in my life until now.

It must have been all too tempting to use the ten-string guitar as a gimmick in a world of the “more strings arms race” that is going on in metal music at the moment. While this behemoth of an instrument may be a defining feature of the band, its lower notes are used tastefully, rather than excessively. As it turns out, the slightly off-tune drone of a string tuned that low is goddamn terrifying; a gargling, menacing sound that used to great effect throughout Mind Cemeteries to make it as unsettling of an album as cosmically possible.

The rhythm section of Chris Burrows on drums and Sylvia Hinz on bass prove a time-traveling powerhouse as they lay down the otherworldly grooves that make the foundation of the band. Sylvia’s habit of playing a flipped right string bass as a left-handed player (without re-ordering the strings) creates some unusual and incredibly dynamic intervallic playing that simply adds to the sense of slight “wrongness” to the whole album. Chris acts as something of the rhythmic shamanic-guide of the band; navigating through the labyrinthine structure of Coma Cluster Void’s music with expert precision.

Vocal duties are handled by Mike DiSalvo, previously of Cryptopsy, and Austin Taylor; a beastly pair if ever there was one. Their grunts, roars, yelps and screams help glue the complete chaos of the instrumentation together, though only barely. The pair focuses lyrically on themes of death and destruction, but on a cosmic scale. Tracks such as Everything Is Meant to Kill Us takes Lovecraft’s de-anthropocentric view of reality and applies it to the death metal formula, with lyrics like:

Judgment is disappearing.
And the sun is dissipating.
Yet the fallen have arisen.
I have finally awakened.
To the stench of all the long lost memories.
Clogging up the mind cemeteries.
Feeding off the parasite.

It sounds almost Chtuluian to me, certainly something far greater than simple murder.

So, is your spleen a worthwhile sacrifice to listen to Coma Cluster Void? Undoubtedly yes. What Coma Cluster Void have crafted here is a unique, difficult but intensely tasteful and rewarding metal album. It may seem off to describe anything on Mind Cemeteries as “tasteful”, given its pure insanity, but honestly Coma Cluster Void show a great deal of restraint here. Tempting as it would be to over-use the lower notes of the ten string or overplay the instrument and turn the album into a self-indulgent shred-fest, they do no such thing. Despite the incredible ability of all those on Mind Cemeteries, the song always comes first, with the building sense of Lovecraftian horror coming in at a close second. Mind Cemeteries is highly recommended to all those looking for something a little different and a little out there in the metal world.