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Coma Cluster Void - Thoughts from a Stone

Coma Cluster Void
Thoughts from a Stone
by James Peterson at 12 December 2017, 11:27 AM

COMA CLUSTER VOID with their new record “Thoughts From a Stone.” have opted to make a single piece of music as their newest short record. A number of my favorite EPs of all time have done this: MESHUGGAH’s “I,” and DEATHSPELL OMEGA’s “Chaining the Katechon” just to name a couple. Does this compare to those absolute opuses? Hell no. Is it still really great and worth talking about why? Absolutely.

For starters, the opening song sounds like a contemporary atonal classical piece… which I’ve never heard on a metal album before. Even with a band like NONEUCLID who delve the furthest into post-Romantic concert hall music that I’ve heard a metal band do off the top of my head, have never so much as written a piece that sounds straight up like someone commissioned Schoenberg to write a piece to throw smack dab in the middle of a metal EP. The track also features violin screech/noise techniques akin to the same ones used in the brilliant and agony wrought outro track “Devour Me Colossus II: Contortions” on NE OBLIVISCARIS’s absolutely incredible “Citadel” record as well as bowed and blowed instruments in an array of non-melodic non-idiomatic noise.

I know the band is trying to avoid functional harmony or even the very concept of harmony and rhythmical consistency itself to an extent, but the beginning of “The Silence and Gloom” still contains a continuous crawling slowed double kick pattern on the drums along with leaping and descending dissonances. The bass sounds incredible on here. It has a monstrous thud and all-encompassing boom, but a perfect placement in the mix that isn’t buried or overpowering. The atmosphere in general reminds me of the band ABYSSAL’s work particularly on their album “Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius.” It’s just… unsettling in the best possible way musically.

If you were to have just happened to find this by stumbling across the Bandcamp page for “Thoughts From a Stone,” immediately upon your first pressing play of featured track “Sculpting this Vision,” if you aren’t already familiar with what I like to call “dissonant metal” (the stylistic approach of GORGUTS, DEATHSPELL OMEGA, ULCERATE, and ARTIFICIAL BRAIN, the last of which it’s probably easiest to compare this particular song to), then this track and COMA CLUSTER VOID’s sound in general will come across as extremely jarring right away, instead of building up to and transitioning literally flawlessly and seamlessly into it (if you listen to the album in order as is necessary in this case) for better or worse depending on your taste. It also gives you much more of a sense than the introductory piece this band’s general philosophy on creating their brand of sonic chaos: no harmonies, no melodies, nothing trendy or conventional, etc.

The outro groove on this track doesn’t sound like it fits into any particular time signature and incorporates noises and screechy slides, all befittingly this continues for the beginning of the “Thumb of Disease” movement. Not all of them land but I love the spastic and non-uniform changes in rhythm. It almost gives the music a liquefied vibe and doesn’t feel locked into a grid. Like Lille’s writing for DEFEATED SANITY but less rigid. The mid ranged growls here remind of NILE’s former vocalist, Dallas, and the way some of the grooves evolve to include licks that are indeed harmonized with a line being copied at a dissonant interval actually reminds a bit of how Misha Mansoor writes in a song like “Mk Ultra” for example.

“Mother Dreamer” definitely feels like more of a distinct and even more aqueous movement than the previous one. The spoken word returns here (and in the next song) along with the drums and bass playing completely intentionally out of sync with each other in addition to clean guitar atmospheres and lyricless moaning. I only have a slight problem with how this portion of the piece is structured in context of the entire “symphony”: I feel like it goes on for just a tad too long, because it does change up and isn’t structured terribly. Also even when it’s done in a context that suits it effectively, I have the hardest time getting into spoken word, but that’s just on a personal level. But after this the chaos kicks back in, we get more glassy chords and blasts with some of the best vocals up to this point on the record before the final track “We Are As Low” rounds out the record and comes out of nowhere with an extremely abrupt Tom Araya on “Angel of Death”-esque operatic power metal high note.

The note content on here is the most sludgy and gross on the entire album. Tone clusters are slammed at what seems to be the bottom range of an eight string, where normally it’s uncommon to play chords because of the amount of overtones generated by low notes which makes closer harmonies become increasingly dissonant. The best thing I could compare it to is the first vocal section in “Electric Red” by MESHUGGAH except even dirtier and grimier. I honestly like this more though. And there’s some great atmosphere in the last minute, bringing “Thoughts From Stone” to a close.

This was definitely a really good one, but at points I feel like the bands vision for their extreme denial of previously established musical conventions gives them a sound that’s not always easy to digest even for people who like avant-garde extreme metal. Bands that incorporate dissonance in this style like DEATHSPELL OMEGA or GORGUTS are so effective because they’re able to structure it in such a way that the potential of the most intense sections is maximized. Speaking of the latter band, “Pleiades Dust” is honestly my favorite record of the past 15 years in terms of sound engineering, and this record does a lot of the same things right as it. Hear the whole piece for yourself as the band clearly intended below.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. I Breathe An Awakening
2. The Silence and Gloom
3. Sculpting this Vision
4. Thumb of Disease
5. Mother, Dreamer
6. We Are As Low
John Strieder - Guitars, Violon, Cello
Sylvia Hinz - Bass, Mezzosoprano Vocals, Recorder
Mike DiSalvo - Guttural Vocals, Lyrics
Austin Taylor - Guttural and Scream Vocals
Genevieve DiSalvo - Guttural and Scream Vocals
Chris Burrows - Drums and Backing Vocals
Record Label: Translation Loss Records


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