Cardiac Arrest splatter blood and guts on morbidly fun ‘Vortex of Violence’

We’ve done a lot of cerebral stuff lately. The music has been. Not my writing necessarily. But things we’ve discussed have been serious, thought-provoking, deep, and challenging, and it’s nice to take all that time to think about things that have oceans of meaning. Who says metal listeners can’t be smart and well-rounded?

But now and again, it’s cool to get back to some pure blood and guts, some disgusting plasma-stained horror that is the foundation of so many forms of metal. It’s not like the people who do that type of stuff aren’t as smart as anyone going, and in fact, you have to be pretty witty to keep that kind of thing interesting for the listeners. But it’s not like when you put on their music you need to have on your smart glasses and prepare for a dissertation. You just want to see the filth.

That’s where Chicago death metal veterans Cardiac Arrest come into play. Their fourth record “Vortex of Violence” is ready for your consumption, and the dish is raw, fleshy, and disgusting. It follows their 2010 effort “Haven for the Insane,” and for those who have been behind these guys for years, there’s no chance you’ll be disappointed. Not much has changed in the last two years, save for them breaking in a new drummer Nick Gallichio, and their instruments of butchery are as sharp and deadly as they’ve ever been since the band formed about 15 years ago.

You’re not in for a technical, polished, pretty death metal album when taking on “Vortex of Violence.” This isn’t that shit they pass off as modern death metal in a Hot Topic or some haven of misery such as that, as this is far too real and ugly to pass that silly test. But that isn’t to suggest these guys don’t have vicious chops, as you’ll learn the band – vocalist/guitarist Adam Scott, guitarist Tom Knizner, bassist Dave Holland, and Gallichio — is more than capable of keeping things both violent and musically stimulating. They don’t fall into the rut so many others do of just drubbing you mercilessly with no color. Their guitar work is interesting, their solos are lightning fast, and their compositions certainly separate themselves from each other.

You’re not exactly eased into “Vortex of Violence,” which I’m assuming you guessed. “Portal of the Damned” rips your face right off from the word go, with brutal, guttural metal, throaty growls, and a thrashing intensity that takes you into “To Their Graves,” that has some excellent dual guitar work; “Relentless Pursuit,” a deadly furious track that eventually melts into doom punishment; “Conjured Being,” a flurried, speedy attack that has Scott howling about such hellish visions as “demons unleashed”; and the groove-infested title track, that could lead to punches landed in chests at their live shows. “Depths of Despair” also bathes in mud pools of doom, though it eventually speeds up and crashes face first into “Ritual Plague,” a song with some astonishingly tight thrashing. “Subject to Torture” has some higher, shriekier vocals added to the deep growls, and as they note, the stench of death is in the air; while closer “The Last Thing That You See” plays on the terror of one’s demise,  played over a chugging, rotting, calculated tempo.

Fans of bands such as Autopsy, Cannibal Corpse, and Cianide surely will enjoy the hell out of this album, as it’s pure, old-school death metal at its finest. These guys are one hell of an entertaining unit, and there’s a ton of crimson-smeared fun to be had on “Vortex of Violence.” Nothing wrong with letting loose and allowing your bloodiest dreams to have a chance to scare you silly. Cardiac Arrest are more than happy to help get you there.

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