Cardiac Arrest - Vortex of Violence (Ibex Moon Records)
By: Mike Sloan
[8/10] The carpet-bombing of traditional old school death metal continues, this time around with yet another monster of an album from Cardiac Arrest. Their fourth full-length album, Vortex of Violence is the wet, sticky dream of anybody who fancies himself a fan of this style of death metal. In keeping with the Cardiac Arrest tradition of meat & potatoes raw savagery in the vein of Autopsy, Repulsion, etc, Vortex of Violence is precisely what is to be expected from this band. Basically, if you’ve heard and dug their music in the past then you’ll know ahead of time exactly what you’re in for when you scoop up this album.
Like they have on all of their previous efforts, Cardiac Arrest doesn’t add any sort of new wrinkles like metalcore breakdowns, clean vocals, cheesy keyboards, or folk instruments. The production is dirty, organic, crude, raw; just the way death metal is supposed to be. Where many a band these days release an album that is as sterile as a jug of bleach, Vortex of Violence is as gritty and nasty as the streets of Chicago’s South Side, where they hail. The only thing missing is a street gang robbing a liquor store, beating your ass and tagging up your garage.
While there isn’t a weak song in the bunch, the highlight of the eleven tracks is arguably “Conjured Beings,” with its catchy riffing and simplistic groove throughout. However, other standout tracks are “Relentless Pursuit,” “Ritual Plague” and the title track. All of the songs on the album tend to follow the same blueprint as the others, which is a mixture of slower crunch, blistering speed, and plenty of hooks. However, it’s easy to tell the individual tracks apart.
Cardiac Arrest have segued perfectly from their previous album, Haven for the Insane, and ratcheted up the intensity just a hair. The two albums sound very similar to one another, but there is enough of a distinguishable sound and delivery where someone with the ear for this racket can differentiate between the two. Like Deceased, Obituary, Bolt Thrower, Napalm Death, Cianide, and a host of others, Cardiac Arrest is a reliable band in the sense that there is no fear of them changing their style and suddenly becoming shitty.
Naturally, the band will eventually be labeled as one that can’t or won’t alter their approach to death metal, or they haven’t evolved as musicians, but this quartet couldn’t care less. Cardiac Arrest play the best style of death metal and there’s really no need for them to advance themselves musically or infuse elements of other genres just to appease the metal masses because they wouldn’t be Cardiac Arrest.
Is Vortex of Violence a perfect album? No, it’s not. It’s not the most original collection of songs either, but that’s not the point. Some of the members of the band have been playing this genre of metal for two decades and this is the style they’ve always enjoyed and played. Cardiac Arrest wear their influences proudly on their sleeves and even though the eleven songs aren’t exactly unique, they are done flawlessly. This is a terrific throwback-type of death metal record. Get it.