Vortex of Violence
posted on 7/2012 By:
Chicago death metal act Cardiac Arrest returns with Vortex Of Violence, their second album for Incantation mainstay John McEntee’s Ibex Moon Records. This band isn’t particularly known for expansionism or subtlety, so what you get here is what you expect if you’re familiar with their approach. This is down-tuned, dirty death metal with more than a hint of gnarly grinding. Vortex Of Violence is a slight qualitative improvement over 2010’s Haven For The Insane, even if it’s not a stylistic departure, and like its predecessor, it’s certainly an enjoyable-in-the-moment noggin-bashing with a few small flaws.
Album opener “Portal Of The Damned” launches straight in with that blasting old-school Master death crossed with old-school Repulsion grind – the thrashing middle section and the sliding post-verse / “chorus” riff are both early standouts in the guitar-work. Each of the first three songs is a fairly straight-ahead rager, while parts of “Conjured Souls” slow matters down to a near-doom tempo, that track alternately ripping and swinging through a caveman groove that raises it above its peers. That particular tune is also one of the first appearances of the occasional stabs of lead guitar that spice up the Vortex – often, these are Slayer-esque flurries of notes, but still ones that manage to add bursts of flair to the largely gut-punch proceedings. Later track “Depths Of Despair,” also flirts with downtrodden tempo, perhaps not surprisingly given its title, though like “Conjured Souls,” "Despair" doesn’t stay down – its hard-charging death metal is offset with a mid-tempo swing and a lumbering distorted-bass-driven rumbling that evokes fellow Chicagoans Cianide.
In terms of the production, the album sounds good – that bass tone is particularly vile, fuzzy and grimy, and the guitars are thick-toned and sharp. Adam Scott’s vocals are respectable and often intelligible through the snarl, though kind of monotonous in their one-tone approach. (Another similarity to Cianide, there, though Scott's growl is less bassy and blast-bellowing than Perun's…)
As noted, Vortex isn’t perfect, but its flaws are mostly intangible – my one minor complaint (that is really two minor complaints combined) is that, at 11 songs and 48 minutes, it might’ve been better served minus one song, especially since, aside from a select few instances, it mostly operates at a fully blast-laden speed. Still, though I feel that a lot of Vortex kind of blurs together in the center, I can’t point to a specific song that should be trimmed – each offering certainly has its merits, a riff or a certain passage or often the entire affair, even if some also tend to get a bit lost in the greater whole.
All in all, Cardiac Arrest has crafted a listenable and stout little death metal record, enjoyable even as it doesn’t reinvent anything even approaching a wheel. Those listeners interested in the gnarlier and grindier side of the death metal world will certainly enjoy Vortex Of Violence. It may not be at the charging forefront of the evolution of metal – it's more akin to a stray Neanderthal still crushing skulls with a club whilst other bands are expanding the killing palette, but a crushed skull is a crushed skull all the same. In the end, when it comes to Cardiac Arrest, you'd be foolish to expect anything different...
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