Cardiac Arrest – A Parallel Dimension Of Despair (2018) REVIEW

Reliable Midwest US death metal presence Cardiac Arrest have put in nearly twenty years of hard work into their craft without ever fully straying from the conventions of old school death metal set in place by Death, Autopsy, and fellow Chicago natives Master and Cianide. That isn’t to say they weren’t entirely brutal as shit to start, though. Their first full-length didn’t really kick around until the band had been stewing for nearly a decade but they’ve fired off a steady clip of albums since ‘Morgue Mutilations’ escaped the womb in 2006. Those early albums kinda suck just in terms of verging on the edge of bland brutal death metal most of the time with ‘Cadaverous Presence’ being rote outside of some neat pit style riffing. Not really a knock on the band’s style at that point, but their original drummer up to and including ‘Vortex of Violence’ was rushed and sloppy for my taste. Once he dropped off onto other things the band’s sound focused less on grinding blasts and more on old school death metal variations. Naturally, that’s where I got my grubby mitts on their tunes.

‘And Death Shall Set You Free’ was not only a slight shift in style but also served as their debut on Razorback Records and my initial introduction to the band. Their love of horror themes and intensely brutal Autopsy-meets-Cianide style was perfect for the label’s shtick. It all worked better than what Cardiac Arrest had done before but I wouldn’t say it kicked around in my head for a very long time afterwards. Jumping blindly ahead about six years and Cardiac Arrest have grown and evolved in a few ways since 2014. The horror themes are pulled back slightly in favor of some light social commentary. The guitar riff style seems to have been influenced heavily by the extensive career of Paul Speckmann (Master) more than usual, at least. The additional nods to Massacre are readily evident but most of ‘A Parallel Dimension of Despair’ pushes a style of death metal that sonically comes pretty close to Cianide‘s long ignored ‘Death, Doom and Destruction’ but at the pace and cadence of Malevolent Creation‘s ‘Stillborn’. It is absolutely traditional death metal in style and the guitar work takes from classic death and thrash metal for it’s attack.

If you’re already familiar with Cardiac Arrest it is worth noting that their sound has undergone a somewhat significant overhaul and I’d say for the better if you’re an old school metal leaning douche like me. My favorite moments from the album kinda center around the riffs that remind me of the bands I’ve already mentioned. The opener “Immoral and Absurd” and “Become the Pain” both feel ripped right from ‘Acts of the Unspeakable’ and “When Murder is Justified” could have been on the A-side of ‘On the Seventh Day God Created… Master’ and really the entire thing is relentless riff metal that doesn’t let up for a second. The slower tracks towards the end are surprisingly good, too, considering how geared towards brutality their sound had been previous. The death/doom lite tracks “This Dark Domain” and “Voices From the Tomb” really elevate the second half of this record in equity with it’s strong first half. ‘A Parallel Dimension of Despair’ is an excellent old school death metal album and arguably Cardiac Arrest’s strongest, most varied work to date. Recommended for fans of classic Midwest death metal bands and groups like Massacre and Autopsy alike.


Artist Cardiac Arrest
Type Album
Released April 23, 2018
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Taking new form. 3.5/5.0

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