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(Austin Weber takes over round-up duty on this Friday, focusing on new music from 8 bands. And no, the new Metallica song isn’t one of them.)

Coma Cluster Void

Perennial NCS favorites Coma Cluster Void just dropped another new song two days ago called “Drowning Into Sorrow”, off their much buzzed-about debut, Mind Cemeteries. Having heard the whole album, this is easily the most savage and purely aggressive-focused cut on the album, and my personal favorite from the album to boot.

I can’t stop listening to this song, and I invite you to give it a chance. Like all their music, it’s highly unorthodox and intimidatingly harsh, but balances that out by being a forward-thinking ode to what death metal can be in this day and age of cynical listeners who think they’ve heard it all. This is probably my most anticipated release of the year, and having finally heard it all, I can confirm it lives up to any and all expectations myself and others have envisioned upon hearing their initial demos and ideas over the last few years.


I've known Coma Cluster Void guitarist and composer John 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 his partner Sylvia Hinz, who I met when she performed a piece written by John 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. John 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!

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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 John Strieder.


In The Great Strings Arms Race of 2014, one band reigned supreme: Coma Cluster Void, an avant garde death metal band helmed by guitarist John 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.