Coroner

Punishment for Decadence

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Most anyone still doubting Coroner's merits as anything but "the band formed by Celtic Frost's old roadies" was likely silenced by their very impressive second album, 1988's Punishment for Decadence. Though not nearly as adventurous as their previous employers early on, the members of Coroner had the clear advantage of being incredibly gifted musicians from day one; and aesthetically, they evidently already aspired to become the thrash metal power trio equivalent of Rush by splitting songwriting duties between guitarist Tommy T. Baron and bassist/singer Ron Royce, while drummer Marquis Marky handled the lyric-writing. The analogy may seem a tad far-fetched, but though Punishment for Decadence's focus was still very much on speed (as if the players are simply relishing the joys of pulling off such complex technical gymnastics in the first place), there's no disguising Coroner's amazing compositional talents to make it all work. To be sure, songs like "Absorbed" and "Shadow of a Lost Dream" stay true to thrash metal's melody-averse philosophy, but careful listeners will notice Baron's solos becoming more musical by the minute -- especially obvious on the frenetic "Arc-Lite," which features a spellbinding workout of Yngwie Malmsteen-like speed and dexterity. More accomplished tracks like "Masked Jackal," "Sudden Fall" and the semi-industrial "The New Breed" all have their moments, but it's the excellent "Skeleton on Your Shoulder" which offers the most hints of the band's incredible output in later years. Plus, many thrash enthusiasts will find Coroner's over-the-top rendition of "Purple Haze" reason enough to investigate this rough-hewn gem.

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