Some bands are made for excellence, even from the start. Coroner
, in my opinion, have always been an example of a band who were excellent from the word go.
R.I.P is the quintessential example of a band whom had a distinct sound and style down from the debut, onward. It’s not as outwardly progressive as the albums following it, instead opting for a more straightforward thrash metal sound. With that said, even though this is their most straight-forward album, the band’s ingenuity for sheer excellence in songwriting, combined with the astounding musicianship and the taste of which said musicianship is executed makes this an endlessly addictive album.
It should be stressed early on that the riffs on here are absolutely sublime. Full-stop. The riffs are not only unique in construction – relative to most thrash bands here – they’re absolutely superbly written, as catchy and memorable as they are punishingly heavy and well-written. Another laudable feature of the riffing on here is the unique melodic flourishes that often add quite a bit of color to the riffing – see that main verse riff in “When Angels Die
”, for a quick example.
In addition to the incredible riffwork, Tommy Vetterli turns in the lead guitar performance of a career on this album, with a uniquely neo-classical touch to his soloing style. What separates Vetterli’s lead work from the likes of, say, Yngwie Malmsteen
is the sheer amount of taste in which the solos are played and placed into the songs on here – there IS a lot of extended soloing on here, but they’re played with such skill and with such a great ear for melody that the lead work instead becomes a massive standout of quality in these songs.
The other musicians are, of course, quite excellent in their own right. Neither Ron Broder or Markus Edelman were the flashiest players around, but for the material they played, they were perfect for their roles, adding in all sorts of deft fills here and there without cluttering the music up that much. Even the bass gets a chance to shine here and there – the break in “Spiral Dream
”, or the way the bass matches the guitar with a fill in the title track (the riff before the first verse). There’s a time and place for everything, and the dudes in Coroner
understood this concept better than most.
all of that, it’s the sheer quality of the songwriting that makes this a fantastic album. The songs – even the little intros and all – are excellent songs, written and played to perfection. The arrangements are more of a traditional verse-chorus format, but a few of the songs on here, like “Reborn Through Hate
”, the title track, “Coma
” and “Totanez” hint at the more expansive style that Slayer
– among others – helped pioneer in the early 80’s. The aforementioned “Reborn Through Hate
” may be the most immediately memorable song on here, with some killer riffs and a classic, anthemic chorus (it actually ended up being played all the way up to their last tour). “Where Angels Die
” is very much in the same vein, with its slightly-odd but great main riff. “Nosferatu
”, with its intro and all, is an absolute masterpiece of an instrumental, with Vetterli’s incredible soloing taking on an almost cinematic quality to it, with again, a masterful sense of taste in their application.
Command” and “Spiral Dream
” (the latter being a re-recording from the demo) are more standard than the previous song, but they’re still excellent, distinctive songs. The title track is, alongside “Reborn
…” and “Nosferatu
” the real highlight of the album, with an amazing galloping verse riff. “Coma
” has arguably the most overtly thrashy intro riff on the album, with a somewhat twisted rhythm to it. “Fried Alive” and “Totentanz
” bring the vicious thrash riffs and bring them hard, and finish off the meat of the album in fine fashion.
I’ve read a few complaints about the intros – it’s true there are quite a few on here, and that they sort of interrupt the flow of the album at times, but they’re still actually very well done, well-constructed and they work very well for their function. (I think the intro to “Totentanz
” is a classical piece, but I’m not entirely sure on that count)
The production is what you’d expect for late 80’s thrash metal, but for a debut they managed to get an excellent, appropriate sound for their music. The guitar tone is truly amazing, with the rhythm tone being sharp and trebly, while the lead guitar has a clear, smooth tone that fits for the lead guitar work. The bass has a full sound to it, and it’s prominent enough in the mix where you can hear it without it overtaking the guitars. The drums are also pretty well recorded, with an odd, thick sound to the snare and a somewhat rickety tom drum sound, but they fit the music, and that’s what matters most in a good sound job.
When all is said and done, Coroner
’s debut is a masterclass example of technical thrash metal. While I slightly prefer No More Color
to it as far as this band’s output, it’s still my second favorite and a truly excellent example of this style of thrash metal done right. Highly recommended.