Reviews (Mind Cemeteries)

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Now that I've heard the whole thing I keep sitting down to write about this album and find myself wanting to leave my review at just the words "all dead... all dead" which would be totally half-assing but still probably hits close enough to the mark that I doubt anyone would get too pissed about it.

I also keep wanting to say that this sounds like Cryptopsy vs. Gorguts because It's angular as holy hell and even 18 years later I can't help but associate DiSalvo's voice with Whisper Supremacy, but that's not fair either 'cos right out the gate this album takes it even further "out" than that.

So what I'll say instead is that CCV take the last 20 or so years of really fucking dissonant music, melt it down, sculpt it into "their own thing" then beat you about the head and face with it until you black out.

Through the gaps in consciousness you catch glimpses: It's fast, slow, dense, surreal, occasionally very beautiful in the same way I find bombed out industrial areas beautiful and I have a feeling that in another 20 years I'll still be trying to get my head around exactly what is going on with some of these tracks because a lot of times it seems like the music is either falling down a well or moving in multiple directions at once. Like shrapnel. In stroboscopic time lapse. Crossfiring. Ricochet. Annihilation.

Or more to the point: Easy listening it ain't, but this album will absolutely fucking kill you. Totally nuts and wholeheartedly recommended.


Reviewed by George Archibald

Advant garde metal band Coma Cluster Void, is a conglomerate of several genres of metal, include Death, Experimental, Math, Beatdown, and many, many more. This band tries to break down the very boundaries of what is music. Hell, for that matter even what is metal. Coma Cluster Void members are even from all over the globe, coming from Germany, The United States, and Canada. This band is also famous for bringing light to the 10 string extended range guitar. For a band that stands out so much it is hard to define their sound, it is almost like Ion Dissonance and Car Bomb got together and dropped acid.

The song “Path Of Lies”, starts off with heavy down tuned guitar and dissonant riffing, as the vocal tag team of Mike DiSalvo and Austin Taylor are in your face with growls and spoken word. Drummer Chris Burrows is powerful and yet refined, utilizing his skills, by playing fast and heavy while changing it up to not take it off the rails. For anyone wanting heavy this is a whole bag of cinder blocks to the eardrums.

The titled track “Mind Cemeteries” is another piece of dissonant art by the band. Coming at you in a fury of fast paced drumming and off time signature guitar riffings. The band then leads up to a break where the bass and drums continue on while accompanied by a chaotic like lead guitar riff before bringing their own brand of breakdown to the mix to finish off the song. This is a maelstrom of musical complexity.

Many of the songs on Mind Cemeteries come at you in a blaze of speed, and can leave you disoriented in the wave of math metal styled arrangements. This is an album for those who truly have a feel for the experimental, and want something that is on the next level. Coma Cluster Void is receiving high remarks from the experimental metal community for their push to expand what is heavy. If you are interested in what could be the next evolution of what is defined as brutal heavy metal be sure to check out Mind Cemeteries out now.


Mind Cemeteries Review

artist: Coma Cluster Void date: 08/30/2016 category: compact discs
Released: Aug 26, 2016
Genre: Technical Death Metal, Avant-Garde Metal
Label: Self-released
Number Of Tracks: 11
This international 10-string death metal band raises the bar for extreme metal (and string count) in a HUGE way on their amazing debut album.
 Sound:  9
 Lyrics:  9
 Overall Impression:  9
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 That phrase has seemingly become a trigger of sorts among many in the metal community. And it's almost understandable, these days, considering how bands the world over have become committed to adding more and more strings to their guitars in order to reach some sort of string singularity, or "stringularity" if you will, and when Coma Cluster Void first alerted the interwebs to their presence a couple of years back, the fact that guitarist Strieder uses a 10-string Agile almost made the band a meme of "This Is Spinal Tap" proportions, despite the fact that the band had many very promising demos out.

So is it possible that the music in this album delivers more than just "more strings"? Well, first, let's consider Strieder's and bassist Sylvia Hinz's background in "orchestral" music (I've never been entirely sure whether to call it "contemporary classical music" or something else, but the term is about as apt as I can imagine for their non-metal output) with avant-garde "dissonant art music" group XelmYa. In that group, Strieder's compositions are performed by Hinz on double bass recorder and Alexa Renger on violin, and their compositions are super eerie and dissonant. There's a layer of chaos and fear in all of the music Strieder composes for the group (though they also perform other composers' works as well), but also an eerie sort of calm.

This is where you're probably expecting me to tell you that "Mind Cemeteries" is just like that. Well, shades of Strieder's composing style do show in Coma Cluster Void. The intervals are often dissonant, angular, and jagged. It's incredibly rare that anything resembling a typical melody or rhythmic pattern comes out of the chaos. Even when something comes through that could be a "pretty" melody in any other context, like the "lead guitar" part in the outro of "Path of Lies," in Coma Cluster Void's music, it sounds evil and chaotic. There are very few bits of breathing room on this album. The tracks "Prologue: I Am," "Interlude: I See Through Your Pain" and "Epilogue: As I Walk Amongst the Sick" being the closest things to an exception to the rule, and performed by the aforementioned group, XelmYa, which also includes Strieder himself on violoncello and Genevieve DiSalvo doing spoken word parts. The intro of "The Hollow Gaze" also starts quietly with Sylvia's bass leading the way. There are very brief moments of clean vocal melodies in "Petrified Tears," though they're far from the kind of clean singing you'd hear in most contemporary metal albums these days. For the most part, the vocal parts are gruff and guttural shouts and screams. There are no "guitar solos" on the record, no "djent" chugs, just Strieder's 10-string dissonance weaving through every song. And that brings us back to the bit about "extended range guitars."

Though many will no doubt know this band as "that 10-string band," Coma Cluster Void's sound isn't quite as big of an exercise in "how low can you go?" as many might think. While there are plenty of huge, low notes throughout the album, the real treat of the 10-string attack on this record has to do with the dissonant intervals Strieder is tuned to (lots of tritones and minor seconds in his tuning scheme, which I can't remember off the top of my head), and the overall range of his guitar is still less than an 8-string. Sylvia Hinz's bass is also a very important part of the band's sound, playing almost as a second guitar part (or sometimes the guitar acting as a second bass!), weaving together with Strieder's guitar parts, and the two of them together form an absolutely MASSIVE sound. Interesting to note is that she plays bass left-handed strung the usual right-handed way, which is likely responsible for her use of some of the more interesting intervals and parts she performs on each track, as there's not a single conventional-sounding guitar or bass part on the entire album.

Rounding out the band, the vocals are handled throughout by Mike DiSalvo (formerly of Cryptopsy) and Austin Taylor of the band Dimensionless, while drums are handled by Christopher Burrows of the band Thoren. They are also an integral part of this lineup and perform their parts every bit as admirably as the compositional core of the band. Burrows has offered a glimpse into the recording process in a few videos on Facebook, revealing that there's no randomness to his parts, which are all intricately composed and beautifully notated. While I can't be entirely positive of it, it doesn't sound like there's a single bar of straightforward 4/4 time anywhere on the record, and even though the rhythms can often be quite chaotic, Burrows reins it all in like a champ and makes sense out of all the sonic onslaught. DiSalvo and Taylor split up both the vocal and lyric writing between them fairly evenly, and provide a sound unlike a lot of metal acts out there these days, definitely one of the heaviest vocal sounds on record in recent memory.

The best examples of groups I can think of that might be able to compare to this would be something like a mix of Meshuggah (especially "Chaosphere"-era material), Gorguts, Behold... The Arctopus, Dysrhythmia, or Ulcerate. In the vocals, there are also elements of DiSalvo's former band, Cryptopsy. Production-wise, this is a very loud record, though there's still plenty of room for dynamics. Most of that comes down to the fact that while the bass and guitars are both distorted, neither are to the point where the saturation is so high that any sense of note is lost, allowing the dissonant sounds between instruments to come through. Listening to the album as a whole (especially after listening to a lot of much more melodic music!) can be a bit daunting if you're not used to how chaotic and dissonant the music is, but this is taken to the extreme on this album, and will please anyone looking for just that kind of sound. // 9


Lyrics: Mike DiSalvo and Austin Taylor paint as dissonant a picture with words as Strieder, Hinz and Burrows have with the music. Pain, anger, sadness, death... these are the topics covered by the album's lyrics, and that's nothing new in the genre at all. But the band presents them in such a way that they never seem overdone or overly maudlin or melodramatic. With the delivery from Mike and Austin being as aggressive and gruff as possible, it can really lend a lot of weight to verses like "And it happens quick/The end befalls the hypnotized ones/The pull is omnipresent/Strength had long been diminished/Humility blends with lucidity/Encourages the cattle to devour" from "Everything Is Meant to Kill Us," or "Judgement 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/Well, one thing's for sure/I am never coming back for more" from "Mind Cemeteries." The esoteric sort of style of lyric is used in every song, and while I won't claim to be very good with words or able to truly grasp the depth in meaning for lines like this, the vocal delivery is so powerful on this record that you can't help but feel like these words are as heavy as they can get. There is also a third vocalist in the form of Genevieve DiSalvo, performing some spoken word sections during the interludes on the album, though calling those parts "spoken" is a bit of a misnomer as she tends to shout her parts as well. But overall, all of the vocal parts go a long way to creating the heavy atmosphere on this record. // 9

Overall Impression: It's clear that Coma Cluster Void have truly made something special with this record. While the internet is undoubtedly going to know them as "that 10-string guitar band" and that will likely be the legacy they leave, if you listen to them for more than that, you will be rewarded with some of the most brutal, visceral, and strangely enough, emotional metal released in a long time. Don't let the band's contemporary classical music pedigree alarm you, either. This is not an album full of blatant shows of technique and flash. Everything serves the song. Every guitar and drum and vocal part weaves together to create an atmosphere. Even in the sections performed by XelmYa, with a violin, violoncello, and a double bass recorder, it's all about atmosphere and vibe.

And that atmosphere is truly heavy. This album is as heavy as a sack of black holes. It makes Meshuggah sound like The goddamn Beach Boys. And none of it comes down to how low they tune, how many strings their guitarist has, or how little clean singing there is. All of it has to do with the chaotic, energetic, dissonant atmosphere of this record. It's tense, dense, and uneasy. Even when the band lets off with the volume for a few brief moments, this record will scare the shit out of you. This is an album that you might not want to listen to alone at night, lest feelings of existential dread overcome you, unless you're into that kind of thing. This is definitely one of the most extreme albums I've heard in a long time, and if you're looking for something really intense to listen to, this will be perfect. It's a bit of a niche record, and it definitely won't appeal to everyone, but they really hit one out of the ballpark for fans of extreme, avant-garde death metal along the lines of Gorguts. // 9

- Travis Lausch (c) 2016


There's a lot to be said for being both a raging metalhead as well as a "sound consumer" wrapped in one entity as a music fan, being that a consumer of sound is how I rationalize the side of me that ravenously devours outside aural portraits that take the listener to places in visitation that they don't usually dwell, nor embody much about that individual's personality outside of the visitational listening session. Combine those two mindsets, and the side of me that loves harsh noise, found-sound collages, power electronics, and even styles I'd get ridiculed for if I cared to be around other humans enough to get much criticism face-to face; like vaporwave, for instance (a collage-esque form of dubbery and warpism that so many love, but an equal or larger number despise...and a style that has NOTHING to do with this band aside from weirdness), and you get the formulaic basis for what makes this tech-strosity work so well for me . We've got metal, and we have tightly knitted intricacies making a solid blanket of brutality. Well, that, and the fact that your average "tech death" of today makes me yawn and roll my eyes with its gloss, wankery, and trend-following formulas. You won't find that stuff on Mind Cemeteries.

To begin, I'm one of those unpopular-minded critics that highly enjoyed Mike DiSalvo in Cryptopsy. What he lacked in beastly, inhuman, maniacal sickness as compared to Lord Worm, he made up for in a more restrained, methodical, and percussive precision; binding the chaos in ways that wouldn't have seemed as calculated and progressive with a more traditional death metal timbre. His "possessed huge wrestler" vocals, as I've been known to describe them, are a perfect fit for something as seemingly formless as this album. And some find it surprising that I value his somewhat hardcore delivery (I'm talking muscular, REAL hardcore malls involved, thank you very fucking much) as so extraordinarily appealing. But put atop otherwise death-steeped compositions, as well as usually beginning, ending, or backing up his grunted lines with formidably beastly growls that show ability equal to most more traditional death metal vocalists, the man is a living exercise in both restraint and tantrum. His presence here - next to the higher, more scream-based 2nd vocalist, Austin Taylor - is a sort of sentient glue to the crazed concoction. And this album is a completely scattered, disjointed, and initially offputting experience, that is...unless you're the kind of person that can immerse yourself in discomfort and alienation, as I described that particular side of myself in the beginning of this review. And the irony is that I turn to overwhelming storms of mania for comfort, as it drowns out reality and its usually cruel rationalizations. My particular rationale in this case told me, "You actively subject yourself to harsh LITERAL noise for desensitiztion and disorientation quite often. Loudly. In headphones. And you like it. Surely you can listen to a BAND, basically playing a form of metal, that performs controlled chaos that might nod at being as disheartening." And these guys can's obvious, even if it sounds like a trainwreck to someone just skimming the surface.

Now, the undeniable truth here is an absolute one. It's absolutely stunning and bewildering that these compositions are practiced in tandem between a number of seperate musicians. The individual minds behind this stuff are extraordinary for being able to comprehend this material on an insider level. Granted, that doesn't mean that stringing together tons of instrumental acrobatics makes for quality songwriting. But I'm not looking for a jingle to get stuck in my head when I approach extreme metal, especially the kind that's predetermined to be so chaotic. This is metal for the sake of sound. And moreso, as anybody that's read nearly anything subjective by me knows, VIBE is what makes or breaks a certain piece of music for me. It's in that way the songwriting is a success here. And my disturbed, conflicted mind finds a sort of vicarious venting, a kind of intellectual seizure,..a goddamn bleedout from the sheer vibe of this monolithic mass of extra-terrestrial death-based, prog/tech grandeur. And do not let all this talk of bewilderment and acrobatics give the impression that I don't understand nor enjoy this work on a more traditional level. I very much do. But it's awareness of the nature of this monster that has me speaking about its dizzying disposition.

So, I've established that Mind Cemeteries scratches two itches for me. One is the side of me that loves me some gargantuan extreme metal. The other side is the pure atmosphere sponge that I can be. No, there's not much to hold on to as you tumble down this mountain, but it's not your mountain. This sick Frankenstein's Monster is the child of the musicians involved. And music it is, even if the sane side of yourself wants to insist in the forefront of your mind that it can't be; as it's too convoluted and jagged. But you know, from at least whatever bit of fanatical education regarding metal you possess, that there does happen to be a highly skilled batch of extremity to be found here. Then you try some more, find some foothold, slip again, and begin the process over. It's the ride Coma Cluster Void created for those willing to strap in for the duration. You don't have to know exactly where they are on their 10 strings and timings and modes. It's okay to throw your hands up, scream, and trick yourself into thinking you won't live through it. But you will live. And somewhere in the back of your mind, just as you did when you were a kid and things damaged your everyday perception, you'll be thinking about the experience. And, if you're anywhere near as demented as these musicians, or as myself as a listener, you'll wanna keep going on that ride. The reasoning might be because you are just satisfying that instinct to look at the roadside accident that you know will nauseate you - as you are human, afterall. The conflict within you might be because you want to try and understand the hype that hasn't quite hit you. Or you might be a sadomasochist. It could be many things, or maybe all those theories at once. But one thing's for damn sure - this album messed with you, screwed up your mind, killed something you thought you had down. And so, suddenly, the title makes more sense.