Cardiac Arrest | The Stench of Eternity (Hell’s Headbangers)

The Chicago death metal staple delivers one of their grittiest, riff-laden works yet.

Death metal fans are a fickle bunch. We want to hear a good performance, but we also like it a little dirty too. That dirtiness is what makes the music feel more organic to us. A lot of modern-day death metal is about getting as tight as possible. Bands still strive for perfection that will never come because fans still have a hard time accepting it at face value. If something in life ever seems too good to be true it most often is, but not in this case. Cardiac Arrest rides that death metal tightrope on The Stench of Eternity with ease, balancing both an incredible performance that doesn’t sound so robotic and a more “raw” recording to match.

“… and you will feel… the pulse of the maggots!” No, it’s not an ode to Slipknot folks. That is part of the sample first played on the track “Maggot This One” before spiraling into death metal goodiness. Start/stop riffage that transcends into blast beats is a tried and very true formula that will never wear out, and it is on full display here. The sections with d-beat drum and vocals also compliment these parts greatly by allowing them to stand out even further as chaotic.

The next track “Victims of Blasphemy” also starts off with some blast beats mixed in before giving way to some great double bass runs. This song really builds itself up in a big way leading into the album’s first guitar solo, which absolutely shreds. “Beg, Bleed, Crawl” starts off next with a bass intro, with guitars jumping in to add dynamics. The main riff of this song is so simple yet brilliant for death metal. Another death metal staple of tremolo picking over blasts and d-beats is on full display with this track.

“Means to an End” shows the band letting off the gas ever so slightly, but not enough to make it feel out of place. This is a mid-tempo death metal track that still brings the ruckus, allowing a little bit more showcasing of guitar player/vocalist Adam Scott. (Author note: the press release I received said other members Tom Knizner (guitar) and Dave Holland (bass) also perform vocals on this. It sounds like the same vocalist on every track, though. Drummer Nick Gallichio rounds out the lineup.)

When the next song “Bullets are the Only Cure” hits, it sounds like bullets. We’ve got the classic chug over mid-tempo double bass here. “In the Name of Suffering” picks it back up a bit, and “Born to be Buried” picks up ever faster before giving way to a near instant classic hardcoresque breakdown.

“No Human Will” begins with a funky gallop-like beat that really grooves before giving way to death metal chaos. This song breaks down all over the place either by picking up or slowing down, and it makes for some great dynamic death metal. “This is How You Die” is the most furious track on this release and is all over the place tempo wise. Normally this would be a perfect ending track for a death metal album, but not for Cardiac Arrest.

The final song on the album, “From Civilized To Sadistic,” will make you want to put on your two stepping shoes after the sample introduction. Clocking in at over 11 minutes, this is not just another death metal song; it’s an opus and a fantastic showcase of Cardiac Arrest’s brand of death metal. The ending breakdown clocks in at almost 5 minutes of the band jamming on a single riff until breaking it down a few notches to make way for the Malenia “Now… ROT!” sample from easily one of the best video games ever created, Elden Ring. Wonderful.

If you’re a fan of meat-and-potatoes death metal, this album will not disappoint in the slightest. Even fans of the more technical side of death metal will enjoy this. Hell’s Headbangers have been putting out some real… bangers lately and this is hands down of them for 2024. | Chad Killion

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