The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Coroner – Punishment For Decadence
Continuing right along from last weeks post, I’m going to reminisce about another thrash band that I hold in high regards. Hailing from Switzerland, technical/groove thrash metal greats, Coroner, are not only one of the most talented and unparalleled thrash acts of the 80’s, but even to this day they are still more memorable than the slew of bands that are spewing forth lately (with a few exceptions). Technical proficiency, songwriting skill and overall dark atmosphere, Coroner are no doubt legends in the thrash genre, but in all of metal as well…
Without a doubt, the 80’s had plenty of quality albums when it came to the world of metal, and in 1988, an album was released that showcased a band propelling further into musical technicality while also etching themselves into metal history. Following up to their 1987 debut album, R.I.P, Coroner’s Punishment for Decadence is as technical as it’s predecessor, but this time around, the songs are faster and more distinguishable from one another, making this album as great if not better than R.I.P. Of course, this is debatable among fans, but you can’t deny that Punishment for Decadence is a solid thrash album and a fantastic follow up to R.I.P.
The album opens with a brief, and I mean brief intro, as it’s only 13 seconds of mechanical-like noise that ends with the sound of a tortured scream, but none the less it lures you in and sets you up for the kick in the balls intro riff of the next track, “Absorbed”. This song is a full out thrasher, complete with mantic riffs and ripping solos by Tommy Vetterli, rapid double bass from drummer Markus Edelmann, and underlying bass lines and thick, strangled vocals from Ron Broder. An instant favorite right from the start and a perfect opener.
Next up is one of the highlights of the album, “Masked Jackal”, with it’s rapid double bass, plenty of riffs and tapping solos which is a treat for the ears. Tommy never lets up once throughout the entire album, the guy is a beast. He also incorporates some overlaying of guitar tones, combining distorted chords with more cleaner notes, which makes for some hidden gems that you might not pick up on the first few listens. The song is followed by “Arc Lite”, a sick instrumental where Ron and Markus just let Tommy take the reins and do his thing. To sum this track up, it’s like one ginormous solo with all the trimmings.
“Skeleton On Your Shoulder” might take you off guard with it’s opening of an acoustic guitar and use of choir sampling creating a haunting atmosphere which leads into some dark riff work. The song features a kind of groove about it that isn’t as present in other tracks, and even though there is shredding going on, the pace doesn’t quite change giving it a nice flow and a sort of breather from all the chaos that has been dished out beforehand. Next up, “Sudden Fall”, one of my personal favorites, with plenty of hooks and it’s mid/fast paced groove like tempo. The riffs coupled with the double bass make this one catchy as hell song. And then there is the break at 2:43 to 2:53 (2:47 in the video below) that demands everyone bang their heads in unison. Truly a classic thrash song.
“Shadow Of A Lost Dream” and “The New Breed” continue along with the speed and relentless behavior found in previous tracks, offering catchy hooks, nasty riffs a plenty of double bass work. Next is the closer of the album (in terms of Coroner songs that is), a science fiction themed song, “Voyage Into Eternity”, which starts off more like a power/speed metal song, but returns back to form, dishing out thrash in generous amounts. The trademarks are all there, Tommy playing very speedy and plenty of shreddy riffs, Markus’s double bassing and Ron’s strangled vocals about a space flight gone wrong. It’s a good song, but in my opinion not a strong closer, “Skeleton On Your Shoulder” would have been a better choice, but that’s just one man’s thoughts on it.
One flaw you will notice when listening to Punishment for Decadence, is it’s production. It’s just as bad as R.I.P., which is odd since you would think this time around they would learn from this mistake. The instruments and musical talent is audible, but you just know it could have been so much better in terms of quality. Also, as a special bonus, Coroner have taken it upon themselves to cover “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix. The guys put their spin on the song and it’s a pretty fun listen, definitely worth checking out.
Despite it’s production, Punishment for Decadence will remain as one of the greatest thrash albums to ever be recorded from one of the most influential metal bands that many other up and coming thrash bands could ever hope to be.
Coroner – “Intro/Absorbed”
Coroner – “Sudden Fall”