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Eulogy for Criminal Metal Investigation’s Finest - 100%

bayern, May 28th, 2017

Coroner’s first four albums are the greatest thing that ever happened on the thrash metal field outside Metallica’ and Slayer’s first four. Their contribution to the spawning of the technical/progressive thrash metal sub-genre is immeasurable, second only to Mekong Delta perhaps, maybe even more significant than the one of the Germans. If in 1987, when both bands released their debuts, the Ralph Hubert gang had some edge over their Swiss colleagues mainly due to the more outlandish abstract riff-patterns, by the time the album reviewed here appeared the Coroner machine had already started working flawlessly squashing everything in its way. Having grown under the supervision of the Celtic Frost guys, the band quickly outgrew the influences of their mentors, if there ever were any in the first place, and before long turned into a highly individual artistic entity with ideas and talent to spare. They never made any miscalculated mistakes (remember “Cold Lake”), but continued perfecting their technical/progressive thrash machine which again here was already operating on full-throttle.

“Absorbed” begins with a wall of intricate overlapping riffs which get configured later for an impetuous hyper-active march the virtuoso embellishments of Tommy Vetterli standing guard on the side, the man one of the greatest guitar wizards ever, inexplicably omitted from the Shrapnel catalogue, due to location discrepancies most likely. The riff package becomes denser once Ron Royce’s mean husky vocals commence with twisted leads interfering later silenced by the memorable chorus; superb technical thrashing can be come across with Vetterli excelling in every department performing pure magic in the process. “Masked Jackal” gallops with vigour recalling the finest moments from the American US metal scene predating Helstar’s pyrotechnics on “Nosferatu”; gorgeous progressive atmospherics alleviate the dizziness from the supreme intricate fretwork with more help coming later from the lead department. “Arc-Lite” is the instrumental piece Toby Knapp and Jason Becker, and even Yngwie Malmsteen if you like, would die to have in their discography, a marvellous entry into the speedy progressive metal branch which will tell you the whole story of the movement within mere 3.5-min, having another tie to “Nosferatu” as well, but this time it’s the instrumental from “R.I.P.”. For this cut alone this effort deserves a perfect score on any day, but make sure to overcome the stupefaction from it, and enjoy the balladic intro of “Skeleton on Your Shoulder” which turns into a steady mid-paced stride and then into a swirling speedy crescendo with stylish slower breaks served along the way, Vetterli ensuring the listener’s bewitchment with the next in line portion of extraordinary axework.

“Sudden Fall” is a furious thrasher with the classical instrumentation even more accentuated on, a short breath-taking atmospheric interlude pacifying the situation. “Shadow of a Lost Dream” shreds in a more controlled manner initially the intensity growing gradually until sweeping headbanging rifforamas come besieging the fan, the band changing the pace at will creating vortexes of various moods and configurations, a multifarious masterpiece containing an array of riffs which whole albums wouldn’t be able to provide. “The New Breed” tries to match the preceding riff-fest with a more hectic delivery, and the dizzying time and tempo shifts follow in quick succession the thrashing coming more technical and choppier with Vetterli producing the finest leads on the album. “Voyage to Eternity” isn’t a sloucher, either, the guys providing another slab of vitriolic intricate thrash with a slightly more orthodox aura although the virtuous gallops in the second half go even beyond Helstar’s mentioned magnum opus. 1000 dollars for those who would be able to recognize the track at the end, a cover of… place your best here, no rush; “Purple Haze” and Jimmy Hendrix, performed in a minimalistic non-flashy fashion the main motif not hard to distinguish although this is a jam-like thinly metal-ish composition which to some may be an awkward choice. Others, on the other hand, will be impressed and will give thumbs up for musical audacity and avantgarde thinking.

In the end even the slightly strange way to close this opus would fit into the overall picture, and still sounds way more relevant than this “Mexican Radio” which their peers Celtic Frost selected for the opener of “Into the Pandemonium”. It concludes half an hour of some of the finest technical thrash ever composed; after such a smattering showdown even a cover of Modern Talking’s “You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul” wouldn’t ruin the impression (well…). After a second consecutive very strong release the Swiss masters granted themselves some liberties, to these ears for the better, and even the The Beatles’ cover of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” at the end of “Mental Vortex” worked fine, amazingly. Magicians, what can you do…

Mentioning magic time and again here, one can’t help but marvel at these three musicians’ genius; if “No More Color” was a logical follow-up to the album reviewed here, the band concluding some kind of a “classical virtuosity” trilogy that was started with “R.I.P.”, with “Mental Vortex” the guys created an entirely different universe. Gone were the exuberant guitar pyrotechnics, their warm atmospheric flair replaced by precise, meticulously calculated mathematical riff-formulas with invisible clockwork mechanism working underneath to ensure another grand exercise in technical thrash, but of a very different kind. If one plays both albums back to back, the one here and the “vortex”, he/she may be able to detect some similarities to know that these are the same artists performing, but those will be merely passing; the cold world of the “vortex” has sucked in all vestiges of progressive friendliness and melodic undercurrents. The only indication of some courtesy would be forced mechanical “grin”…

A “Grin” which only became bigger and more artificial on the band’s swansong, but one that still managed to warm the hearts of certain fractions of the fanbase, at least those who had already opened their hearts and souls for the new sounds of the 90’s. It had to remain an isolated experiment; and it did otherwise the masters may have received a red card, and maybe even bigger punishment for their nonchalant “decadent” behaviour. Their reputation remains unstained, the time after the reformation in the new millennium spent in live performances around the world. And this is how it’s going to be until the next “murder case” when the three best coroners’ skills and tools will be put to another test…

Superior to R.I.P. - 100%

SurvivedAbortion1, September 19th, 2011

Yes, you read the title correctly. I'd like to begin by saying that I do believe that this is better than its predecessor (With all due respect to the mighty RIP, of course). It's more technical, the lyrics are even more intelligent, and the band- specifically Mr. Royce, the vocalist- improved on this album. Fans of more straightforeward thrash will probably disagree, but fans of technicality will likely side with my statement.

Anyway, this album emerged during the height of the thrash metal movement in the late 80s. Hailing from Zürich, Switzerland, Coroner always was so damn unique and original, and Punishment for Decadence is rock solid proof.

This masterpiece opens with a short, eerie intro guilelessly titled “Intro”, only spanning a mere 13 seconds. It certainly sets the mood for this already atmospheric and introspective album. The first real song is “Absorbed”, beginning with a very typical Coroner intro. The song itself contains several tempo changes and a GREAT guitar solo at about 1.39. After that we jump into a slightly more straightforward thrasher titled “Masked Jackal”. As every other composition on this album, it’s neat as hell. The instruments are executed with perfect skill, the lyrics are genius, and the guitar solo is one of the best I’ve ever heard in thrash metal. Then comes Arc-Lite, an instrumental with a pounding drum assault by Mr. Marquis Marky for an intro. Arc-Lite honestly reminds me of a more technical version of the intro from their previous album, called “Nosferatu”. Don't get me wrong, they're plenty different, what I mean is that they're just mildly agnate. After Arc-Lite is “Skeleton on your Shoulder”, it starts with a sad, creepy acoustic lead which works its way into a mid-paced heavy-ass riff, which speeds up, eventually becoming one of the fastest points on the album. You may as well set your neck on auto-pilot here, because with the complex but vicious riffs, the drumming, just make you want to start a one-man circle pit right then and there. We then break into a slower paced tune called “Sudden Fall” which opens with a no-shit crunchy riff. Sudden Fall is easily the thrashiest song of the album. After that is Shadow of A Lost Dream, which opens with a catchy riff, then a short little drum solo leading into a main riff that just beckons thrash and progression, this song is really great, featuring an unnaturally catchy, yet still heavy chorus,

“I see you smile it's like a punch in my face
Can't you feel my bleeding heart?
Is that you who's standing next to me,
Or just a shadow, of a dream I lost”

“The New Breed” follows, creating a nice balance of progression and that unmistakable heavy, thrashy vibe. As with every other lyric-containing track of the album, the lyrics are interesting as holy hell. At about 2.24 a guitar solo whizzes around your head, it’s so fast and technical it makes my fingers hurt just hearing it. “Voyage To Eternity” rolls around, moving into a total thrasher, awesome verse, awesome pre-chorus, awesome chorus, yeah, it all works, and then you get to the break, which slows it down to a stomping halt with Royce continually delivering his unique vocals. If you have the CD version, there’s a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” as the closing track. This song is probably the easiest to swallow of the album, but if you don't like it at first it will grow on you, it may pretty weird at first listen because of the vocal solos in the choruses, but keep on listening, it's really an acquired taste.

The production. Well, it’s terrible. And I love it. It does everything to give the music more atmosphere and give it that old, authentic thrash sound. Also there’s just a fuzz of reverb in the vocals in drums. Very Quiet too. Keep in mind it’s not a high budget American recording so it’s going to sound very old. All the instruments exist in perfect harmony, all but the bass which is pretty much inaudible a little more than half the time. (EDIT: I've been told that it may be my individual sound system which is muting the bass, your expirience may differ). The vocals seem to be buried a bit but you’ll hardly notice this once you listen to it enough.

About these vocals, they are just you can expect from Mr. Ron Royce- aberrant, bizarre, and sounding fairly strained most of the time. As I stated I think he sounds better on this album than on RIP, he seems to have developed a more original style with this album and the vocals may have been payed a bit more attention during the production job. His vocals on this album do everything to just give the music that quirky distinction that makes it stand out as unique.

All around this is an incredibly impressive effort, a masterpiece, if you like good thrash; you NEED to get this album, or should already have it. Really.

Instrumentally, musically superior - 96%

tylr322, March 26th, 2011

After the classic R.I.P, it would be hard for Coroner, a band so technically and skillfully superior to most other thrash bands to top their first album. While they were a thrash band, much like your Megadeth's, Kreator's and Artillery's, they had their own agenda and being your typical "thrash, beer, mosh" band was not really what their music represented. You should also know that it's not their skill or technicality than win you over, it's their uncanny knack of being musical geniuses in the song writing department.

So with Punishment For Decadence we are subjected to a lot of the same from Coroner, classically inspired riff and solo mind rape. The leads consist of a wonderful mix of thrashy riffing with some serious neoclassical shred. All coming from Tommy T. Baron. The music is very complex, technical and consistent, getting bored is pretty hard when listening to this album. "Absorbed" starts the album off in a super manner with their typical spiraling, exuberant, riffing. Great track. After hearing "Nosferatu" on their first album they follow that up with yet another superb instrumental called "Arc-Lite," which showcases again how high a level of musicality the band has.

They like to start their songs nice and easy before quickly leading into brilliantly written, exciting verse-chorus assaults. "Skeleton On Your Shoulder" seems to stand out as it's super memorable and easier to digest than some of the other songs. But, the other songs are easily as good and perhaps take more time to grow on you. You cannot make out most of the lyrics without the lyric sheet, even worse on this album as they are faded more than before but, Royce's vocals are much the same, strained and unusual. They actually grow on you a bit in a somewhat hysterical way. As a bassist, Royce is no mug either as evident during the solo of "Skeleton On Your Shoulder." Throughout the album he keeps up with the rhythm of the leads. Now, this is a trio and Coroner would not be Coroner without the drummer Marquis Marky. With the unbelievable guitar work of T T. Baron pretty much on autopilot, it can overshadow Marky's more than capable drumming which is quite possibly par with Royce's and Tommy's guitar skills.

Perhaps this album doesn't leave you with some of the absolutely mind altering songs on R.I.P like "Reborn Through Hate" and "When Angels Die" But, Punishment For Decadence is very consistent and most of the material on it is so close to being just as good it's not funny. So, Coroner's second effort is an overlooked classic and a vital album to have in addition with their trio of classics from the 80's. As a huge metal fan, discovering Coroner is definitely one of the best finds for me.

Sigh. - 55%

Chthonicisms, March 25th, 2011

And so begins entropy. Coroner up the intensity, failing to understand that it was not intensity alone that made their music excellent.

Once a band makes a couple of releases as excellent as Death Cult and the near-masterpiece R.I.P., it is not difficult to imagine they might become unsure as to how to develop further, even if this unsureness is not consciously tangible to them at the time. This appears to have been the case for Coroner. They drop almost all traces of speed metal with their sophomore LP, going for a straight-out thrash attack. Instrumental ability is still very much off the charts, if anything even more so - but composition is comparatively simplistic. Music here follows an extremely basic ABABCDCD phrasing pattern, often overlaid onto an even simpler verse-chorus format that only gets broken in the most predictable of places for shorter connecting phrases that, though good, are mostly predictable and often unnecessary. This simplicity is easy to overlook what with the insane solos and finely-expressed riffs, but at its core this is stadium music; it would be supremely rousing in the context of a live show, or even as background music to play videogames to, but that's about it. It's a fun album, VERY fun - but it doesn't deliver anything more than fun.

Fans of thrash metal will probably like this. A lot. It is just as energetic as the aforementioned two releases, but underneath that energy lies... well, there's no space for anything to underlie in. It's *all* energy, all the time. It can get you pumped, and it's a good expression of the style it occupies, but unless you're looking specifically for more music in that style, and if you're looking for something that will provide deeper revelations the longer you listen to it, there's no need to seek this out.

Frighteningly talented, unparalleled thrash - 100%

autothrall, October 23rd, 2009

Though the debut R.I.P. was the record to set the stage for this Swiss trio's brand of dark, classically inspired thrash metal, it was Punishment for Decadence which would solidify Coroner as one of the most frighteningly talented and unparalleled thrash acts of the 80s and beyond.

Pushing the limits of technical proficiency, songwriting skill and mesmerizing atmosphere, behold the birth of a legend. The album opens with the complex "Absorbed", a bewildering array of thrashing, dark, melodic riffing beneath Ron Royce's proto death metal vocals (mildly reminiscent of Tom G. Warrior). Even the breakdowns in this song are puzzling and proficient. "Masked Jackal" follows, perhaps the most famous track from this album, due to both its infectious thrashing, shredding and it had also had a video.

We haven't even arrived at the meat of the matter yet. "Arc-Light" is an awe-inspiring instrumental piece, loaded in atmosphere and Tommy T. Baron's heavily classical guitar wizardry. With it's sad intro and descending chords, exploding into sheer triumph, "Skeleton On Your Shoulder" is one of the most memorable thrash metal songs I've ever heard. "Sudden Fall" and "Shadow of a Lost Dream" are entirely killer, in particular the latter with its wild bridge after the verses. "The New Breed" is another extremely complex track with its anesthetic riffing and samples. "Voyage to Eternity" closes the album with some amazing leads and atmosphere. There is a cover of Jimmy Hendrix's "Purple Haze" on the CD version, I usually never count it, since it's decent but not much like the originals.

The frightening thing about Coroner isn't just Tommy T. Baron's masterful guitar work, but the bass playing can match it almost note for note...and yes, I've seen him do it live. It's not a joke. The production here may seem average for the 80s, but really allows the music to breath. Lots of reverb, tinny drums, and a lot of atmosphere to the vile vocals. Alongside its follow-up No More Color, this is truly the high point of this amazing band's career. It's a sad thing they are no longer with us and have no real plans to re-unite, unlike every dime and nickel thrash/speed metal band these days. But what they leave us with is a legacy. A legend. A fucking masterpiece. Bands are not made like this anymore. Dark, inspirational, and indisputably one of the most adventurous and complex pieces of thrash metal ever produced on Earth.


Equal to Coroner’s debut - 92%

Metalwontdie, July 3rd, 2009

Coroner followed up their excellent debut with an equally accomplished Punishment For Decadence. You can already notice Coroner is changing their style on Punishment For Decadence gone is the neo-classical shred metal influence except for the instrumental Arc-Lite which is very similar to Nosferatu. Coroner goes for a more pure technical thrash style on Punishment and it works just as well as their debut. The album is shorter with fewer songs and the interludes have been dropped.

The songs on Punishment are even faster than on R.I.P. and are just as technical though more distinguishable from each other than on Coroner’s debut. I would have to say Punishment is more aggressive than R.I.P. also with a more punishing atmosphere. The solos do suffer though they just aren’t as shred based as on R.I.P. and don’t entertain as much. It seams that Coroner wanted a more song based album in Punishment than on R.I.P. because the songs are not nearly as based on solos as on their debut. Punishment is also less melodic than R.I.P. with a heavier feel to it as well.

The bands performance is just as good as on R.I.P. albeit they have become better songwriters. Ron Royce’s annoying vocals are exactly the same; his bass is just as excellent as on R.I.P. Tommy T. Baron is more focused on Punishment and definitely goes for a much more song based feel. Marquis Marky drumming is just as good as on R.I.P. but doesn’t really stand out from the other two member’s contributions.

Unfortunately Punishment does have some problems though they are minor in the long run. The production is just as bad as R.I.P. and is even quieter which doesn’t make any sense considering that this was made after Coroner’s debut. The album intro is just noise with some guy yelling at the end for its 13 second existence a complete waste of a song. Finally the cover of Jimmy Hendrix’s Purple Haze, while excellent and far better than the original doesn’t fit well on Punishment.

Punishment For Decadence is another very high quality release from Coroner, entertains thoroughly for its duration. Best songs are Masked Jackal, Arc-Lite, Skeleton On Your Shoulder, Sudden Fall, and Voyage To Eternity. I recommend this album to fans of Coroner and fans of technical thrash metal.

-2 points production is even worse than on R.I.P.
-2 points Ron Royce’s vocals are still annoying
-2 points pointless waste of an intro track
-2 points Purple Haze cover doesn’t fit well on the album

Catchy, Technical, Brilliant... Classic - 93%

m0rBid_Psych0sis, April 30th, 2008

Coroner is a thrash metal trio from Europe. They came to us in a spark of brilliant technicality and exuberance. Their guitarist Tommy Barray is one of the most under-rated in thrash metal, along with bassist/vocalist Ron Royce, who may not be the most diverse bassist in the history of thrash metal, but delivers a magnificent performance, both as a front man and a bassist. Drummer Markus Edelmann, while also not the most exciting skin basher, gets the job done, with exceptional ease. Showing that he indeed is just barely exposing us to what he is capable of doing, which is executing his parts with rhythmic precision and tightness.

First off we get the intro, the soothing sound of machinery that lures you in only to get your face kicked in by the excellent intro riff of “Absorbed”, a full out thrasher that will have you headbanging in no time. This track is one of my favorites with its catchy chorus and shredding solos, a real thrash gem. Next up is “Masked Jackal”, and how could we forget this track with its genius riffing and great solo. Coroner has also experimented with some well-placed samples on this song, a first and a foreshadowing of what’s to come. Now we have come to the total shredfest known as “Arc-Lite”, an instrumental, that is of course fast and technical as hell, typical Coroner, with a lot of guitar shredding, but you cannot help but notice how tight the bass and the drums are here. Ron and Markus lay down the perfect foundation here for Tommy to doodle and sweep all over, creating one of best tracks on this album and a complete masterpiece. The next on our list of thrash metal madness is Skeleton on Your Shoulders, not much to say about this track, it has an acoustic intro, catchy technical riffage all over it, and a great solo. It’s also one of my favorites. From here on it’s pretty much the same thing repeated with the exception of the acoustic intro. The rest of the remaining tracks are all good solid songs and they all contribute to making this album great, but they just aren’t as memorable, although they are still extremely enjoyable while you’re actually listening to them. I’m sure you’ll find yourself headbanging along to these in no time.

All of the songs also have great lyrics that will have you pondering, all courtesies of the great lyricist and drummer Markus. A large contribution on his behalf, although Shadow of A Lost Dream could have used some better words to accompany those catchy as hell vocal lines. The production is on this album is overall, pretty well done; it’s not the best by any means but all instruments and musical talent is audible. A noticeable difference on this album is how they strayed away from the neo-classical elements of their debut, making this album more of a straightforward thrash album, while still maintaining that sound that makes Coroner unique.

I recommend this album to anyone who enjoys good thrash metal and is looking for a classic that won’t get boring for quite a few spins. This album will never grow old. Period…

Brilliant Tech-Thrash With a Groove - 93%

warrior_of_disease, March 15th, 2008

I cannot state enough how much I love this album! It is, in my opinion, the best tech-thrash album I have ever heard. These guys are amazing! The music is technical but not overly so all the time. Sometimes it really hits a groove and is more straightforward. It is truly a mixture of tech and thrash.

Tommy Vetterli is really good. He has a somewhat noodley technical style that I just can’t get enough of as he is a top influence on me as a guitarist. I just hope one day I can be half as good as him. Ron Brody is no slouch on bass either. He matches Tommy perfectly on all his rhythms and his bass is very audible in the mix which is a plus. He never strays too far from what Tommy is doing but Tommy is usually doing some crazy shit so the fact that Ron can match him perfectly finger style and do vocals is pretty amazing. I wouldn’t say his vocals are the best but he is unique and his style helps with the catchiness of the songs. I guess you could consider his vocals to be sort of “yipey” which is fine for thrash. Markus Edlemann is not by any means a technical drummer but he is very solid and shows that he could be more technical if he wanted to. I still think he’s great though as he stays on top of every single tempo change and never misses a beat. It’s like he’s a machine that is perfectly synced to Tommy and Ron. Now I’m not saying he plays like a drum machine. He throws in subtle nuances now and then to change things up. He just isn’t very showy which is fine. He does his job and does it well.

The intro is pretty pointless but the fact that it’s a separate track makes it even more pointless. It’s like they’re saying “you never have to listen to this” so I don’t. Other than that and “Purple Haze”, this album is pretty much flawless in terms of the tunes. I think “Masked Jackal”, “Skeleton On Your Shoulder”, and “New Breed” stand out a bit over the rest though. I don’t think the production is too terrible besides for the drums being a bit low and the snare being especially too low. The guitar and bass sound good and have improved in tone compared to R.I.P. I think the drums sound better too even though they are just not prominent enough in the mix. Definitely an improvement over their debut though, though you do have to crank it a bit more.

This is the last more thrashy album they ever did before they went in a more progressive direction. I think they could’ve made at least one more total thrasher before moving on to a different direction but what can I say? They were ambitious. Nothing wrong with that. If you like metal at all, then there is no reason why you should not have this album as it is a tech-thrash masterpiece. I do have to take off a few points though for the slightly less than favorable production. Oh well.

Top notch skills by the band, crappy production - 85%

BarkievonSchnauser, September 16th, 2007

Alright. Lets get the record straight. It is near impossible to come as close to being as technical as Coroner was. They were (and still are) the most technical straight up thrash metal band ever to exist. I do not care what say about Metallica or Slayer being more technical, any band that is not Meshuggah, Atheist, or some other technical death metal band will not even come close to the technicality of Coroner, and those bands almost overdo it. Coroner wasn't all about being technical, they actually had an incredible sense of lyricism and musical theory, and are capable of making music that is more then just "double bass drum/down tuned guitar unison riffing with inaudible bass" music, but thrash metal that stands out among others as being as unique and inventive as it gets.

1988's Punishment For Decadence shows this greatly. After touring as the opening act for Sodom on the latter band's Persecution Mania tour for the better part of 1987, Coroner came off the road and back into the studio, creating one amazing album. It would be their last straight up thrash metal album, as later albums would later incorporate elements of progressive rock which don't get me wrong is just not totally the same music. The songs here are catchy and loaded with hooks, yet are outright brutal and demonstrate the band's amazing technicality. Each member of the band performs his role amazingly, the lyrics are thought provoking and even catchy at times, the solos are amazing, and the album just owns. But why am I giving it an 85? Quite simply, because of one thing, Noise Records. Noise Records, while being the label for many a metal band in the 80s simply could not offer their bands the privilege of great production on their albums. Coroner's debut R.I.P is decently produced, but Punishment, while a step forward in terms of song writing and lyricism, is a complete step back in terms of production and mastering. The production here is so bad that I have trouble distinguishing the snare drum from the cymbals. If it's that bad, then it truly deserves a nomination for worst album production ever. But the songwriting owns it, so let us being our adventure into Punishment for Decadence.

Our frontman on this album is Ron "Ron Royce" Broder. As well as singing here, Ron serves the role of playing bass on the album as well. In the playing bass department, Ron is a very rare breed. Bassists have been doubling as singers in rock and roll and metal before Coroner came around, but why is Ron so different? I mean, other guys in thrash metal are bassists and vocalists, Tom Araya being the most well known example. But you still got Marcel Schirmer of Destruction and Tom Angelripper of Sodom. What is it that Ron does different? The reason, Ron played finger style while singing. Now Tom Araya tried this and did it for a little while as well, but he found that he could not sing and do finger style at the same time. Ron does this flawlessly, and does it very well. Although here he is also a bit weak. He doesn't just do lame fills like Schirmer and Angelripper do on bass, but he follows along with the guitar all the time, and this is one of the worst things you can possibly do for a bass player. Another thing, his vocals really aren't that great. They are comparable that of a yapping chihuaha. Here they stand out more then on some other albums or songs, but it is still very annoying and next to impossible to decipher what he's saying.

The centerpiece here though is not Ron, but guitarist Tommy "Baron" Veterelli. There is a reason people called this guy The Alchemist. He is simply amazing at guitar. He is a great mix of Piggy of Voivod and James Hetfield in his rhythms, as he has very chugging palm muted riffs but he also mixes in a lot of other notes and chords that you normally do not hear in thrash metal riffs. He even does some minor shredding in some of the riffs, adding a bit of extra flavor to them. But it is in his solos that Tommy finds his niche. While most of his fellow teutonic thrash guitarists (other then him, the only really notable German thrash metal guitarist from the 1980s is Frank "Blackfire" Gosdzik of Sodom and Kreator) were tremolo picking for the most part with an occasional bit of tapping thrown in, Tommy totally shatters that notion. He does loads of tapping, alternate picking, and even some string skipping and economy picking. For a guy coming from a place without a ton of guitar virtuosos to learn from (most of Tommy's bay area contemporaries were lucky enough to learn from Joe Satriani. Tommy and other European thrash guitarists didn't exactly have that privilege) this guy is amazing. While his solos on Punishment are far from his best work, he definitely blows away all German thrash guitarists and even most American ones with his work here.

The final piece here is Markus "Marquis Markey" Edelmann. Besides this guy's very funny play on words with his nickname, this guy succeeds greatly at his roles in the band. As a drummer, Markus is amazing. This guy is not all about only using his snare drum, hi hat, and bass drums, he actually makes use of all the drums in his kit. He aslo adapts flawlessly to all the time signature changes that Ron and Tommy throw at him, so he is never out of time once. Not even a nanosecond out of time. Unfortunately, the bad production here affects Markus more then anyone else in the band. His drum tone is absolutely horrible. Other then the bass drums, it is almost impossible to make out which drum this guy is using at one time. It can be done, but it's pretty hard. Besides being a great drummer however, Markus is also an amazing lyricist. Hence why Coroner was called "The Rush of thrash metal", because like Rush percussion professor Neil Peart, Markus wrote all of Coroner's lyrics, and like Rush's Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, Tommy and Ron were more into writing actual music then lyrics, so if Markus wanted to write them, they let him do it. They made a good choice. Markus's lyrics are not straightforward at all and always thought provoking. They range from mental problems to politics, and even with a hint of science fiction thrown in as well (not without incorporating the other of the two themes mentioned into the mix though). So while Markus was affected in the studio by Noise Records more then his bandmates her, he is perfect for the band, as both a drummer and a lyricist, even if his drum tone was messed up and Ron semi butchers his lyrics.

Now lets get into the music behind this amazing album.

We start off with what sounds like a bunch of machinery and then the sound of someone falling off a cliff and screaming for the intro. Ok a lot of albums have stuff like this, so I'll live with it. But that is a thing that makes this album unique, is that a lot of songs incorporate heavy sampling. Not to an extent that keyboards are part of the entire sound of the band, but it provides some nice fills and sounds very very nice and fitting for the band.

After the twelve second intro, the album just bursts out of the gate and brings on Absorbed. The song opens up with Tommy's signature riffing and some rapid double bass pedal use from Markus, then changes time as Ron continues to lay down the underlying bass (which you can actually hear decently) and Tommy riffs. Ron then comes in with his yappy chihuaha voice to sing Mark's lyrics. I'm not quite sure what they are about, but they appear to be about some guy who was either abused or watched someone get killed and is trying to move on and forget about it, but it drive him insane in the process. Tommy does a solo before the first chorus that just blows your mind. It is truly amazing. Then after the chorus, he does another one that tops the first! Ron actually projects his voice in the choruses pretty nicely, but for the most part his voice just does the lyrics absolutely no justice at all. As does the production and mastering, but otherwise it's pretty good.

Next we have the album's centerpiece, and the song most thrash metal fans know Coroner for. If you guessed Masked Jackal, you are correct! This song is just amazing, from Tommy's great riffs and Mark's rapid double bass usage it's just awesome. Tommy does some awesome tapping solos here, and also some nice economy picking in the beginning. It's also probably the only time I have heard the guy tremolo pick, but he just does it as a lead fill and how he does it sound pretty nice, so I'll discount it. He also overlays his guitar tone at one point, so you hear a distorted chord and then we hear clean part with it. It also contains some sampling, in the form of a speech and some audience applause. But not only musically does the song succeed, it is amazing lyrically. This song is about a dictator coming to power and how he does it, but about some guy seeing through it and thinking about it. It sounds something like Megadeth, but rather from the antagonists or protagonist's point of view, it simply comes from another character who just notices what is going on. Now many will think this stupid, but when you listen to it and the way Markus wrote the lyrics, it sounds perfect. The song is also loaded with hooks that entice you to listen more, and it just is an amazing track. One that shows Coroner's skill flawlessly.

Next we have the instrumental Arc Lite, which is sort of like Coroner's equivalent to YYZ by Rush. This is where Ron and Markus are like "Ok Tommy we'll back you up just go all out we don't care" and it just works. The song (more like guitar solo) opens up with a rapid drum roll with the tom drums (one of few the times you can tell Markus uses them) and then goes into a very catchy riff that just gets you hooked on it. Now that you are into the song, it's like hook, line and sinker. You are just won over by the piece. It must be heard to be believed, for Tommy is just amazing. This is where he blows most of his contemporaries clean away. He just completely destroys everything that had came before him. Few in thrash metal could compete with this guy, and only probably Americans can, because no German thrash metal guitarist, not even Frank, has ever done what Tommy has done on Arc Lite. His work is loads of economy picking, string skipping, alternative picking, and tapping, mixing classical and jazz together with a hint of exotic spices to make it just sound amazing. You can also hear Ron's bass on this track pretty nicely, but it needs to be listened closely if you want to hear it with any real definition. All in all, a great instrumental shred-a-thon that is not one bit out of place on this album.

Next we get into Skeleton On Your Shoulder. You think this song will be a power ballad when you first hear it, with it's acoustic guitar and use of choir sampling in the beginning, but then it goes into this downright haunting guitar riff from Tommy backed up by bass from Ron and more creepy drumming from Markus. It then starts off in kind of a groove metal like riff, but then gets into a tight palm muted riff with some fits of shredding thrown in and then bursts out into all out thrash metal mayhem. Then when it gets into the verses, you hear Tommy using a flanger in the riffs, overlapped by distored guitar riffs that just sounds great and not in any way sounding like cheating. Markus is constantly adapting to the off the wall time changes, having no problem doing such and making it sound. Tommy does some really nice solo work, with some nice use of sweep tapping, normal tapping, and string skipping to make for a very radical solo. The lyrics here are quite eccentric and hard to decipher, but that means you can interpret them from multiple viewpoints, which is something I enjoy quite a bit and something that is hard to come by in modern metal. There is no real clear idea of what they mean, but I interpreted them as a song about drug use, probably LSD. This can be seen well in the lines "If you wish to see a totally different view, come into my deadly arms feel the green mist cover you", the line "We'll drift through the universe, no more responsibility. High above the clouds far from reality". But not only the experience of being high, but also the dangers of the drug, which can be seen in the line "I taste as sweet as honey but I'm dangerous like a snake", saying that while the drug is addictive and gives the user a thrill, it's killing him inside. A great and highly inventive song that finds a nice place on the album.

Sudden Fall is all about hooks. Everything about this song is an attention getter. It starts off with Tommy playing this burst like riff that goes from high to low and back again a few times. Then it goes into another mid/fast paced groove like tempo but then changes into a semi palm muted riff that changes once the verses come in. Throughout the verses and spots in between them, Markus is providing rapid and thundering double bass, and the fills in between the verses and chorus are downright catchy. A slower riff is used in the choruses, then you hear some clean guitar and minor ambient keyboard usage before Tommy goes into yet another solo mainly compromised of alternate picking and a little tapping, sort of like Kirk Hammett. Then it goes back into the refrain, then into a small passage by Ron, the riff is then played a bit more. It then goes back into playing the first and second verse together, then it plays the chorus until it fades, Tommy playing a solo while Rons sings the chorus. This song is about mines, from the perspective of workers working in them. It's quite interesting to listen to, as it seems the owner of the mine that Markus is describing is being asked if he sees what's going on in his mine and how bad his workers are being treated. Pretty thought provoking, don't you think?

Shadow Of A Lost Dream opens with a palm muted riff that starts with typical thrash metal sounding opening but then goes into a real semi groove yet progressive affair that is still very thrash metal. It goes into a lot of of changes in time and key before going into the verses. This song is about an odd thing in thrash metal, relationships. This has been done in the genre by bands like Megadeth, but Coroner does it differently. The relationship here is about a girl who's boyfriend cheated on her and how she hates him for it, and the lyrics, they are almost like they came from an emo band! But because it's Coroner playing this song, and they are so instrumentally talented and Tommy is here to play solos, this song is still pretty nice. However, Shadow Of A Lost Dream is definitely the worst song on the album, but if you want to hear some nice sweeping by Tommy then it's worth listening to.

The New Breed is another hooker. The riff is very catchy sounding and gets you hooked on it and wanting to hear more. It goes on at a slow tempo that builds up into a relatively fast one, then there is a break before Ron heads on into singing in his yappy chihuaha voice. But Tommy's verse riff is incredibly inventive, and Marky does some more double bass rolls and incredibly technical drumming. Even more interesting, is during the fill in between the first verse and first chorus, you hear this weird voice that sounds like it is coming form. Tommy does a really nice mix of string skipping, sweeping, and tapping to make for a very sick solo in the song that just rules, and his riffs continue to make your head spin with what he incorporates into them. The words of the song have to do with the war in Afghanistan at the time", which can be interpretted in "Proud to die for faithFanatic, Agitators, Deceive" and the generation of children that were born during the war that continue to witness war in and terror in the country to this day. Once again, Markus manages to make me ponder things with his lyrics, and that's good because these days it's hard for my brain to get a workout by listening to anything played on MTV or the radio. At least I got Coroner to make me think.

Next up we have Voyage Into Eternity. This song sounds more like power/speed metal then thrash, a lot like something Iced Earth would put out, at least when you hear it at first. This is a great way to hook you onto the song, because then it goes into all out thrash fury, with Markus double bassing in the riffs and Tommy playing very speedy and plenty of shreddy riffs thrown in to make it just sound. The whole time Ron is singing lyrics about a space flight gone wrong and a spacecraft being hurled into space with no life support for it's pilot. This is the science fiction part of Punishment for Decadence, and it's a great song to listen to while having a somewhat lacking lyrical department that does not provoke my thoughts as much as other songs do. Tommy does loads of alternative picking, tapping, and sweeping to make the song sound just plain awesome to listen to. The song also features some sampling in the form of a rocket engine in the middle of the song after Tommy's solo. Markus is punishing the whole time with his drums, and this piece is just amazing.

As if all what came before this is not enough, we now get a special surprise. A Jimi Hendrix cover! Not only that, but they cover Purple Haze! Talk about out there. I mean thrash metal bands covering Hendrix, that's a bit odd, and I never thought I'd ever find it. But Coroner takes the idea and executes it without any flaws. Tommy takes the song and just shreds up while retaining a mix of thrash and Jimi Hendrix Experience like feel to it, and Ron and Markus fill in Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell pretty nicely, although lets face it Ron can't sing Hendrix for his life. But it's pretty nice to listen to, and it's worth the time it takes to listen to it. A great and fun song by an otherwise dark band.

Other then the horrendous mastering and production, Punishment For Decadence is a great album. It is one worht listening to, and if you want no compromises in the technicality and musicianship of your thrash, then it is well worth buying.

Raising The Bar? Oh, Hell Yes! - 90%

corviderrant, May 15th, 2004

When I discovered this Swiss band, I was so happy to hear what I felt was the best combination of thrash power and (I thought at the time) ridiculous technical prowess yet. And it still stands up to the test of time well over 16 years later. They weren't the best live band, but with the level of musicality they had, it was understandable how they had to stay still and focus on the music, which was and still is superb.

Guy Bidmead's production was outstanding for the time, and it is nice to hear drums as they were meant to sound before triggers rendered them sterile and impersonal. Thick, pounding, and aggressive, and the guitar tone is a midrangey crunch that really stood out among all the Metallica clones who were trying to sound like James at that time.

The whole band really shone as players, and from the opening riff of "Absorbed" you are drawn in hard and fast as the music overwhelms you with its eccentric technicality. Marky's lyrics are abstract and unusual, and that also really makes this band stand out from the pack. As did Ron Royce's unusual vocal style, a thickly accented strangled squawk that sounded like nobody else did. His bass prowess is all over this album, underpinning Tommy T. Baron's guitars with skill and dexterity as Tommy reels off riff after tricky riff and excellent soloing that is both emotional and technically proficient. For me, "Absorbed", the crunchy riffing of "Masked Jackal" (probably the simplest tune on the album, at least the opening riff is), "The New Breed", and "Sudden Fall" with its vigorous headbanging middle section are outstanding, as is "Skeleton on Your Shoulder".

So-called techno thrash owes a huge debt to this underrated band, as Coroner showed off the perfect mixture of thrashing and musicianship; bands like Cynic took it too far in that they were too busy showing off as opposed to thrashing, and it killed the vibe for me. Atheist had the right idea, at least on their first album, and Coroner need to be credited more than they are for being as unique as they were and still remain.