Reviews (Mind Cemeteries)

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I've known Coma Cluster Void guitarist and composer Strieder for a few years now. We actually initially met through the Dissonant Network group, started communicating regularly and ended up collaborating for my old band War From A Harlots Mouth's final album 'Voyeur'. He composed and performed a number of interludes that really tied the album and its vibe together and also kept recommending great and inspiring contemporary composers to me during the writing process. I never really thought about it, but he probably pushed me further as a musician with all of his input. And when he told me that he was working on his own Extreme Metal project, I knew it was gonna be special.

This project includes [...] Sylvia Hinz, who I met when she performed a piece written by Strieder with her trio XelmYa in Berlin. She now plays bass in Coma Cluster Void. Vocal duties are handled by no other than Mike DiSalvo, who was on two of my favorite Cryptopsy albums. I'm not incredibly familiar with the other musicians, although I did check out drummer Chris' band Thoren before.

But let's cut to the chase! Coma Cluster Void are really pushing it here. You know, as someone who grew up on Mathcore, a genre which is built upon chaotic structures and often overwhelming technicality, and has moved on to really fall in love with atonality and dissonance further down the line, I sometimes feel like I've heard it all. And with that being said, 'Mind Cemeteries' doesn't necessary present anything I haven't heard before, but it pushes the elements it consists of further than what most of us are used to.

Coma Cluster Void's "anti-grooves" are probably even more chaotic and entangled than the sweeping blow of a Mathgrind classic that Ion Dissonance unleashed with 'Solace' about a decade ago. And the level of dissonance is nothing short of ubiquitous. You will not find a forgiving or loosening melody on this album. Zero. The atonality is punishingly intense at all times.

And not only that... Coma Cluster Void also operate with a low end that puts Meshuggah to shame. Strieder plays a 10-string guitar and while I usually find everything beyond 8 strings ridiculous and useless, it certainly is anything but in this band. I know he uses some weird and dissonant as fuck open tuning and was actually certain he would pull it off, despite my general reservations with such guitars. And 'Mind Cemeteries' is proof of that. You probably need people thinking outside of the box with these types of instruments. I'm pretty sure that 4 out of the 5 people on earth who actually bought a 10-string guitar either don't know what to do with it or senselessly chug themselves to sleep on the lowest strings.

The only thing I have a hard time telling apart is the dual vocal performance. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the vocals on 'Mind Cemeteries'. They are an intensely growling assault, reeking of pain and mental suffering. But both vocalists, DiSalvo and Taylor, seem to have a fairly similar range. Not that it's a disadvantage... the end justifies the means, right?!

Let me try to wrap this up. 'Mind Cemeteries' is really eating away at me in the best possible ways. It is filled to the brim with everything I (have) love(d) about extreme music throughout the years: Chaos, dissonance and a pummeling low end! Coma Cluster Void are not reinventing the wheel, but they made a wheel that goes further while crushing everything in its way. If there ever was an album that could rival some of the groundbreaking releases in forward thinking extreme music, this is probably it. I am extremely impressed with 'Mind Cemeteries' and feel like it will hit the underground like a sledgehammer. But it's also a tough pill to swallow. Lots of "regular" extreme Metal people out there will simply collapse under the weight and density of it. But to me personally, this challenging listen makes the experience just that much more rewarding. All I could still wish for is for Coma Cluster Void to become a touring band. I want to witness the madness live and loud!


In The Great Strings Arms Race of 2014, one band reigned supreme: Coma Cluster Void, an avant garde death metal band helmed by guitarist Strieder, who uses a 10-string guitar, and bassist Sylvia Hinz. The multi-national band’s brand of death metal is skronky, visceral, churning and groovy: think the best parts of Gorguts, Ulcerate, Portal and Meshuggah all blended into one.

Now Coma Cluster Void return with a brand new song, “Drowning Into Sorrow,” via’t worry — it doesn’t djent). If you like any of the above bands there’s a good chance you’ll dig on this; if it makes you feel queasy on the insides… well, it’s doing its job. This is not easy music to listen to, but that’s kinda the point.

Ex-Cryptopsy vocalist Mike DiSalvo and Dimensionless vocalist Austin Taylor trade off on most of the album, while Lord Worm (also ex-Cryptopsy) and Will Smith (Artificial Brain) contribute as well.

We are happy to premiere Coma Cluster Void’s chaotic new single “Drowning Into Sorrow” off of their upcoming record Mind Cemeteries. The track is laced with Meshuggah-esque grooves, Gorguts inspired atmosphere, and Deathspell Omega induced dissonance. Fans of both prog, tech death, and djent will enjoy what this band has to offer.

The project came together in 2013 when avant-garde composer Strieder and fellow conductor and instrumentalist Hinz joined forces. Over the following years other talented musicians have joined their ranks to create a terrifying yet unique vision of death metal.Beyond Strieder on 10-string guitar and Hinz on bass guitar, the album also features a fierce dual vocalist attack from ex-Cryptopsy vocalist Mike DiSalvo and Dimensionless vocalist Austin Taylor. Rounded out by the brilliant playing of drummer Christopher Burrows, Mind Cemeteries also features vocal guest spots by well known death metal vocalist Lord Worm (ex-Cryptopsy) and Will Smith (Artificial Brain) as well. Check out the track “Drowning Into Sorrow” below and let us know what you think.


1. Prologue: I am
This gives you a good taste of what the album will bring you. For starters this album is going to be dark, plenty of dissonance, there will be sounds you are not familiar with, and it’s going to make you think. Yes think, because this bunch wasn’t making a bland generic sounding album. They wanted to push the limits, dig deep within your minds and unearth the raw emotion and raw sound. And that my friends is what Coma Cluster Void has set out to do.

2. Iron Empress
Right out of the gates this song hits you with so many things going on at the same time, your mind quickly tries to navigate through the notes being played to isolate each sound and what they bring to the table.  First you hear the guitars and drums. Then you hear vocals, Mike DiSalvo’s vocals are the first to invade your speakers, and I can’t think of a better sounding vocalist than Mike to bring the lower range, growling vocals. He brings a sound to the table that you just know, that’s Mike and this will be good. Now check out the drums for a second if you will. Chris Burrows is on the throne and you have to respect the guy for playing to this. It takes a different set of skills to be playing along to music as dark and dissonant as CCV.

3. Drowning In Sorrow
This song begins with guitars and drums and DiSalvo letting us have it with a sinister growl. For the next twenty five seconds they play a dark repetitive pattern until they come out of that with a pretty damn cool groove.  I think some people will have a better time with this song than the previous as it has a little bit more of a solid structure to it.  I find that some listeners like to have some solid concrete structure to follow along to. This is CCV’s best attempt at that, but does not take away from the sheer complexity of the song.  In fact I really dig this track myself. I mean the groove at the :25 second mark sounds great. And they revisit that same groove later in the song. But then there is the 1:13 mark where the guitars are hitting some highs and Burrows is blasting away while DiSalvo is hammering us with his vocals.  This is far too early in the album to call this my favorite, but I will say this may be a fan favorite of the album. And I can certainly see why, it has many elements that make a song good, but also interesting.

4. Path of lies
For the first twenty seconds of the song, is just simply bad ass.  As I am typing this I have hit the back button 4 times.  Just wrap your head around this brief section for a moment and try your best not to enjoy the sounds you are hearing.  Now for the rest of the song that’s following, they lay down a beat that you will find yourself moving to.  Be it head banging, tapping your foot, you will lock into it, and then before the song changes you will hear the words “ the cycle must now be undone” you will also notice another voice spitting some lyrics, and that my friends would be Mr. Burrows. Yes he not only offers his percussion skills to this, but his voice also. And while listening to him and DiSalvo at the same time, they are not that far off from each other. So the two actually complement each other’s sound.

5. Mind cemeteries
Ahhh the title track, typically speaking the title track has something to offer.  They chose not to hold back on this one. Chris is attacking every inch of his set while those dark guitar tones counter attack the bass lines.  For every bass note you hear, it has a counter attack from the guitars, and the drums are hitting on both at the same time.  The song takes a turn at the 1:38 mark where it slows down to a haunting stroll through the path of insanity. Yes I said it insanity, because that’s what I picture while listening to this song, a dark asylum hallway trapped by your own devices of one’s mind.  The last few notes you hear lead you right into the next track.

6. Interlude: I see through your pain
The interlude has the sounds of Xelmya playing which is Sylvia Hinz, Alexa Renger, and also Strieder. Now take Hinz and Strieder in a different format with their experience, put them together and you will have something interesting. However as someone who took all the band classes in elementary middle and high school, I can honestly say that I had never even known of a double bass recorder even existing. Sylvia brings that to the table, an instrument I had no idea was a real thing.   That is what I am talking about here, you just took a few people with very creative minds, and superb talent and put them in a room together.  And what you have are those eerie sounds you hear building up until a guest vocal spot by Genevieve DiSalvo wraps this interlude up and transitions the listener into The Hollow Gaze.

7. The Hollow Gaze
Now this song is actually what I find myself listening to the most. Ultimately there is a no groove, there is nothing for the listeners to latch on to for comfort. This song is raw, its dark, it is jarring, and to me it’s the equivalent of hitting a nerve ending during a root canal.  While that doesn’t sound pleasant I have to disagree, I actually like that aspect of this song.  It’s almost as if they wanted to completely erase all the templates that the music industry has given musicians.  For example, if you don’t fit this template, then you won’t be successful.  They threw that right in the trash with this track.  For the first thirty five seconds you have a level of uncertainty that explodes when DiSalvo gets on the microphone. The rest of the band kicks things up a few notches and continues to play out until they hit a high point around the 2:30 mark. I credit this to Strieder for his musical experience and composition skills.  I actually find myself listening to this song and losing myself in thought. I haven’t had music do that to me in a while. And why I say that this is an album that will get the listener to think. While it’s not a heavy and fast track , this is probably my favorite track on the album.  I can’t put my finger on it 100% but there is something about this song, it’s like there is a hidden element just locked away deep, but the only way to unlock it is to listen, and let that brain start processing the composition.

8. Everything Is Meant To Kill Us
This song is a right out of the gate hitting you with sounds from every angle, and goddamn those bells Chris, I don’t know how many he has, but I find that they really fill in the gaps between the guitars.  Mike’s vocals and Chris’ vocals are like vocal poly-rhythms themselves just adding to that multi-dimensional feel.   Thus adding another example of the brilliance of this album.  CCV are using poly-rhythms in all aspects of the music and aren’t cutting any corners. The song is a perfect example of sticking to the game plan, go big or go home.  Right at the two minute mark the song goes through a change and the guitar tones especially right at the 2:10 mark. That low raw sound fuels this song. You hear it again nineteen seconds later.  The sounds coming from my speakers is downright dirty and evil sounding.  And the song ends with Mike’s voice telling us “we never want to know”, which a damn fine way to end the song.

9. Petrified Tears
This song has all the same elements that we have covered so far, jarring, and dissonant sounds, poly-rhythms used with strategic execution, and dark vocals and lyric content. Want to note that Austin wrote the lyrics for this track, and comparing them to the songs that Mike wrote the lyrics for. I’d say everyone is on the same page when it comes to song writing and lyric content. Right around the halfway point of this song, they go through I change that involves a more abrasive vocal style from Austin. While this song is following the same elements as the rest, I just feel like this song didn’t give the 100% that the previous tracks have. However I have no doubt in my mind that this song is a little more of a “bring the listener down for a moment” track and will follow up by hitting us hard with all bitter endings.

10. All Bitter Endings
Boom, they hit us hard, right out of the gate, a dizzying blow of discordant poly-rhythmic sounds escaping from your speakers.  The beauty of this song is all the highs and lows it has. Almost like a sine wave there are equal parts of highs and lows that the listener will go through for the duration of this song.   As before Mike’s vocals just fit this like the usual suspect in a line up.  There really is no better person to handle the lower harsh vocal duties than Mike.  The guy’s voice matches the guitar tones, and the ambiance of the music.  The last minute or so we get a few last forceful pushes of catastrophic unharmonious and unrelenting sounds.

11. Epilogue: As I Walk Amongst The Sick
Basically a hauntingly evil (yet human) sounding track to end the album with.  When I say human, I mean there is the evil we imagine around us, and then the evil we know and see in our daily lives. you can listen to this song and hear the elements that make this a solid, and poignant track. This is a a satisfying end to the album, It’s relatively short and to the point.  They get the job done and finished this album the best way possible in my opinion. Leaving the listener wondering what they just experienced,yet wanting more.

I like this album, it’s so much different than what I have been listening to in recent months that it gives me a different perspective on the music. Again I will say I never knew a double bass recorder existed so for that I must thank Sylvia for expanding my musical library.  I going to say this and while it may be a bold statement I stand by it. This album displays a strong understanding of musical composition and is borderline genius.  Its one thing for a drummer to play poly-rhythms Terry Bozio had been doing that before I was even born. No big deal, but it’s a whole different situation when literally every instrument and member play poly-rhythms, including the vocalists, both mike and Austin as well as the guest vocal spots by Mr. Burrows and the other guest vocal contributors. Strieder and Hinz have a good relationship and both are composers with a great deal of musical education and understanding.  So you have two power player’s right there, now add in Mike and Austin, both have a solid set of vocal chords, and are covering different ranges.  Ideally I must admit I prefer Mikes vocals, but hey my first impression of Mike came from the first time I heard Cryptopsy. That leaves a lasting impression.  Now wrap it all up with Chris burrows, that guy can fucking play. I have more respect for Chris after listening to this album than I ever did before. I just didn’t give him the credit due until listening to him under these circumstances.  But wait there is more, because this isn’t just a CCV album, because for a few of the tracks the band performing is Xelmya (Strieder, Hinz, and Renger). Strieder and Hinz are doing double duty on this record, and my god this music they play has a dark mysterious feel that could work well for movies.  Honestly I could see them playing some music for a David lynch movie. Yep I just went there.  People that know me well enough, know I am someone who likes fast and heavy, this is outside my normal comfort zone. And even though I have had this release for a short while. I promised myself I would not write up this review until I had been able to listen to this album in full several times to open up and hear all the different elements.  This album is awesome, it will leave some speechless, and it will leave some wondering what they just listened to.  But I think anyone would agree with me, that Coma Cluster Void push the limits with this album.  I feel like my horizons have been broadened by listening to this, and I won’t think twice about labeling this a 9/10.  Not everything has to have a catchy chorus, or blast beats, or finger tapping to be great. Sometimes it’s the music that gets you to actually think, that has more value than an album with programmed drums, programmed this, programmed that. Just so that there are no flaws, and it appeals to the masses.

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