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Coma Divine is the name of a new venture formed by Austrian vocalist Sonja Kraushofer and 'Dead End Circle' is their debut album. And what a darkly grandiose beast of an album it is too. Kraushofer is already well known within the gothic scene through Persephone an L’Ame Immortelle, as are other band members, notably Ashley Dayour, guitarist with Whispers in the Shadow. Apparently, Coma Divine's intention has been to explore "new boundaries" and to search "for new ways to express themselves". In this goal they succeed and, beyond mere sonic diversification for each musician's established style, they've also managed to create an album that is captivating from start to finish. A strength of the collaboration is most definitely Kraushofer's vocal style which is, at times, histrionic in essence as she infuses the music with a truly engaging melodramatic significance. And over the heavier passages she rocks it up with a much more ballsy delivery. 'Rotten World' is a prime example of this juxtaposition as a minimalist section of music with drums, bass, and occasional guitar and cello (Martin Höfert, also from Persephone, features on the album throughout) provides a nice sonic backdrop for Kraushofer's vocal melodrama before giving way to a metalled-up chorus as she switches to full-on rock mode. And Kraushofer's vocals aren't the only strength of the album as all the musicians involved utilise their instruments with efficacious results throughout, illustrating restraint on the guitars, for example, that gives breathing space for bass and cello when songs require such. While the musicians have transcended their own generic parameters, the music on 'Dead End Circle', and the band's image, does still contain echoes of the goth scene's idioms. And the diversification I've alluded to earlier is only within the context of expectations of the musicians involved rather than in a wider sense as there's no wild experimentation at any point. Still, that matters little with songwriting of this quality that's executed to perfection with an amazing production and mix. A minor criticism is that the album seems to have been mastered with the intention of placing Coma Divine in the midst of the so-called loudness war. That's only a minor criticism though as, like I say, 'Dead End Circle' is, overall, an aurally sublime album that is beautiful in its melancholy, captivating in its melodrama and exciting through the more up tempo, heavier moments. Well worth checking out.
Review by Mark Holmes
29th August 2011
1) Burn, Sister
2) Rotten World
3) The Odd One Out
4) I Remember
5) From Time to Time
6) Praise the Fallen
7) Reason to Live
8) Secret Lover
9) Fast Lane
10) About a Girl
11) Dead End
"...a darkly grandiose beast of an album..."