Coroner

Grin

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Although most fans and critics will commonly point to 1991's Mental Vortex as Coroner's best all-around effort, the adventurous Swiss trio had yet to deliver one last semi-masterpiece before going their separate ways. Ultimately Coroner's last will and testament, 1993's multi-faceted Grin drew strong criticism from some of the band's more extreme fan contingent upon release -- these being of the opinion that its experimental songwriting was simply too "out there," even for Coroner. But while they showed the band embracing melody and strange sonic effects on an unprecedented scale, outstanding tracks like "Internal Conflicts," "Caveat (To the Coming)," "Serpent Moves," and "Grin (Nails Hurt)" validate the experiment more often than not, thanks to the band's startling imagination in doing so. Admittedly, rather long, ambient sound-tinged excursions like "Status: Still Thinking" and "Host" may have proved a tad too much for the less patient listener to stomach but, despite such rare inconsistencies, it must be said that the breathtaking "Paralyzed, Mesmerized" (with its restless, stuttering tempo and impossibly mellifluous melody) stands as a crowning achievement of the band's career. This is what taking chances is all about, after all. As was often the case, guitarist Tommy T. Baron and drummer Marquis Mark's devastating technical interplay affords another series of album highlights, while Ron Royce's normally raspy growling actually makes room for some near-singing on opener "The Lethargic Age." Hopelessly ahead of its time, Grin has continued to improve with age but, alas, the same risk-taking ethic that produced it proved too audacious for the members of Coroner to withstand, and the resulting band dissension only accelerated their already looming demise. Still, the diversity contained here only confirms Coroner's standing as one of the most overlooked and underappreciated acts of the era.

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