Coroner - Punishment for Decadence
Noise Records
Technical Thrash Metal
10 songs (38:55)
Release year: 1988
Noise Records
Reviewed by Aaron
Archive review

Coroner was always known as ‘that band that the roadies for Celtic Frost formed.’ While it has been used as a compliment, an insult, and many other things, it really is just a way of relating a band that people can’t remember easily. Free-association nicknames like that are used when people don’t want to bother remembering the actual name of something.

Well, guys, Coroner was a name worth remembering, and this notion was cemented with Punishment for Decadence, their remarkably manic sophomore release, containing mostly high-speed thrash with tiny touches of guitar melody thrown in every two songs or so. No, this isn’t proto-Gothenburg or any such thing, but they do vary the thrash assault that so many bands used only purely, without anything to dilute it. Of course, the tempo is still at a near-constant 270 beats per second, and the solos are still shrieking and technical in that way that only thrash bands can pull off. The vocals vary between an angry snarl and yelling (reminiscent of Tom G. Warrior, unsurprisingly) and work very well with the music, though they’re really just there for show. Anyone listening to this album isn’t doing it for the vocals, only for the riffs. If you wanted accomplished vocals, there’s always power metal.

The production is late-80’s thrash perfection, muddy but with the guitars way up in front of anything else, the bass and drums just far enough behind to provide a solid, if unremarkable (in the case of the bass, anyway) backbone to the riffs, and the vocals practically buried by everything else. Perfect. Of course, the production isn’t pristine, polished, or really particularly beautiful, but who gives a crap? Raw, angry music deserves raw, stripped-down production. The drumming is also particularly good, speedy and laced with fill after fill, but played to compliment the guitars rather than to simply show off as so many deign to do nowadays. The intro to Arc-Lite is demonstrative of this, giving the drummer a few seconds to show his chops before launching into yet another perfect thrash anthem.

These songs rule. Like I said earlier, they’re generally speeding along as fast as the fellows can play and sometimes faster than that, but ever-so-often, they slow down to allow some great groove into the songs that works perfectly along the face-shredding riffage. Technicality is the order of the day here- with speedy quick-picked solos and trickily constructed riffs that will bring to mind, for the unfortunates who have heard System of a Down’s Mezmerize before having heard this, much of the riffing in BYOB. Of course, this is done much better, more for-the-jugular aggressive, but the influence is there. Undeniably so.

My favorite song on this release, and everyone’s favorite song on this release (or it SHOULD be everyone’s favorite song) is Sudden Fall. It starts out like the usual tech-thrash, with an off-time riff and some strong drumming, but builds into an all-out thrashfest before suddenly, the riffs taper off, and it slows down into a beautiful, almost contemplative and haunting backdrop with riffs hammering around in the background all the while, and then they veer back into sight and claw your face off with this absolutely monstrous thrash break the likes of which will only touch your ears very rarely. Savor it, ‘cause it goes on for quite the while, just utterly relentless. Then it veers back into the original main riff and the chorus comes back in, and you’re kind of stunned, because you know that what you just heard was some of the greatest thrash ever, and you’ll remain stunned throughout the next few songs, possibly stopping a couple times to headbang to the catchy riffs of Shadow of a Lost Dream, to marvel at the industrial-tinged The New Breed and to smile at the masterful cover of Purple Haze (along with funny accent, for that matter), until the CD finally finishes, and you get up, massage your aching neck and… sit back down.

Then you open the CD player, close it, hit the play button, and once again, a descent into this riff-laden masterpiece of an album is begun.

Killing Songs :
Can't think of one undeserving of this section.
Aaron quoted 96 / 100
Jeff quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Coroner that we have reviewed:
Coroner - Mental Vortex reviewed by Bar and quoted CLASSIC
Coroner - No More Color reviewed by Charles and quoted CLASSIC
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