Coroner

R.I.P.

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1987's R.I.P. album represented a pretty inconspicuous start for Swiss trio Coroner -- one whose modest ambitions they would quickly outdistance on their way to morphing into one of thrash metal's all-time most adventurous bands. Guitarist Tommy T. Baron and drummer Marquis Marky had only recently quit their jobs as roadies for avant-thrashers Celtic Frost in order to join forces with vocalist/bassist Ron Royce and, their instant musical chemistry notwithstanding, the group was still trying to figure out a way to translate their shared virtuosity as players into comparable levels of songwriting inventiveness. Mere flashes of their potential were revealed here, with occasional, darkly ambient instrumental song snippets making their way among blistering examples of typical '80s thrash metal, though the two never quite meshed into the awesome sonic weave that would characterize later-day triumphs. No, though they were commendable enough in their own right (and at least on par with much of the competition), album highlights such as "Reborn Through Hate," "When Angels Die," and "Spiral Dream" (with lyrics written by former mentor and employer Thomas Gabriel Warrior) exceeded expectations only when it came to the disorienting speed and the labyrinthine complexity of their execution. Elsewhere, the manic instrumental "Nosferatu" offers yet another jaw-dropping technical showcase, the unusually stupid "Fried Alive" sticks out like a sore thumb, and the closing "Tolentanz" suite delivers a strong finale. Ultimately, R.I.P. is a more-than-respectable debut rendered less impressive by Coroner's subsequent accomplishments, but it should provide a welcome addition to any thrash metal enthusiast's collection nevertheless.

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