REVIEW: Commotio Cordis – Commotio Cordis (2013)


Artist: Commotio Cordis

Album: Commotio Cordis


For a long time, I’ve been interested in the medical field—actually, that’s not entirely true. Interested might imply a fleeting phase or passing interest—where what I possess is more accurately a passion. Having just completed the MCAT, and several years of pre-medical education, my dedication is more than simply transient. The point in prefacing with all this is to illustrate my familiarity with aspects of the medical field; more specifically, surgery, one aspect of medicine I am particularly intrigued by. The needle-point like detail and extreme levels of precise, coordinated movement it takes to properly perform even minor manual surgical processes is nothing short of profound—ask Commotio Cordis. With their debut, self-titled album, they display nothing but the most intricately technical and surgically precise sections of songwriting to bring nothing but the heaviest, most misanthropic deathcore to grace the listener’s ears in eons. Packed with visceral, intense beatdowns and slams woven together with perfectly-knitted strands of technical instrumentation, the mastery present on Commotio Cordis is nothing short of prodigal.

In a word, Commotio Cordis’ debut release is precise. Like watching a well-oiled machine carry out its meticulous functions, or observing a perfectly trained group of surgeons execute a quadruple bypass, every element of the band’s musicianship is at its apex. The album’s opener, “We Are the Four,” along with “The Dead Woods” feature dueling, technically marvelous guitar lines that turn the tracks into riff-driven juggernauts. The looping, labyrinthine riffs pervasive throughout these tracks—and the album as a whole—are perfectly technical. Perfect meaning that they aren’t too dense and untraceable to confuse and “lose” the listener, but rather, just technical enough to create snaring, winding loops which catch the listener’s brain and hold it hostage. Likewise, “Before the Storm” includes a popping, catchy bass interlude which, while gimmicky, is masterfully done. “Inevitable Agenda” is another track that allows the bass to shine its absolute brightest. Meanwhile, as the strings are landing a constant, fierce array of kicks and punches to the listener’s ears, the percussion wages a more subtle, siege-like attack, becoming prominent only when allowed to let loose and rampage at their own pace. “Flesh Quilt” is one of the tracks that allows this most frequently—as it is driven primarily by a blaring and incessant battery of drums while the strings stay in the back seat.

Just because Commotio Cordis are outstandingly proficient with their instruments doesn’t mean they fail to bring heaviness to their music, however. The band’s self titled album is rife with moments of nothing but the purest and heaviest form of hatred the genre has to offer. Whether it’s the contagious catchiness of the slamming sections in “Red Rains”—driven by deep grooves and squealing pinch harmonics—or the grotesque, dismembering brutality of “Inevitable Agenda,” the album finds ways to incorporate stunning, heavier-than-par breakdowns and sludgy, crunchy grooves into the otherwise profoundly technical mix. This is due in part to the absolutely stunning vocal performance on each and every track. Ranging from a high shriek which keeps pace with the break-neck percussion and skin-peeling riffs to a low, trudging growl which makes even the heaviest, grimiest breakdowns seem fast, the vocals match each aspect of the album and make every hit harder. Take, for example, the band’s lead single, “Manipulationists.” When the vocals are soaring at a lightning-fast pace, they accompany the already quick instrumentation and make the song seem like it’s pounding along faster than it really is. However, as the song deteriorates into a filthy series of defilingly heavy breakdowns, the vocals change their tempo to fit the mood. Simply put, the vocals throughout Commotio Cordis are available at every pitch and every speed, doing exactly what they need to be doing exactly when they need to be doing it.

It is the manner in which the vocals and instrumentation come together in such magnanimous harmony which provides Commotio Cordis with the surgical levels of flesh-rending precision they need to annihilate the listener. “We Are the Four” and “Manipulationists” are perfect evidence of this—combining roaring, catchy riffs with break-neck vocal work and lacerating percussion to create an augur of sorts which winds inside the listener’s head and stays there for days. However, it is the use of the vocals to transition for violent, contagiously catchy grooves to a fun, bouncy bass line in “Before the Storm” or the simply perfect synchronization and bass guitar-percussion interplay in “Inevitable Agenda” which are the true moments of Edenic perfection on Commotio Cordis. The innovative manner in which the band transitions from heavy to gimmicky in “Before the Storm” without losing their catchy, bouncy feel is simply groundbreaking. Additionally, “Inevitable Agenda” has a climactic breakdown which gets progressively heavier and more technical at the same time as it stretches onwards, completely obliterating the listener’s sanity. These are the elements which make the band’s self-titled debut a true masterpiece.

It isn’t common to see a band whose debut album is one that so perfectly walks the line between technicality and brutality—which is all the more reason for you to check out Commotio Cordis’ breakout album. Filled with jarring slams, stunning riffs, spine-snapping breakdowns and fun, bouncy gimmicks and grooves, there is nothing not to love about this release. It creates an immersive, intense atmosphere which wastes no time in switching on the bone saw and kick-starting the surgery—and they do it with the utmost precision, to boot.



For Fans Of: As Blood Runs Black, Salt the Wound, Embrace the End, Beneath the Massacre, Rose Funeral

By: Connor Welsh