Review Summary: Great debut LP from Swiss tech-thrashers Coroner. A promising start for the group, and a sign of things to come.
Around 1986, a bunch of Celtic Frost
's roadies recorded a demo by the name of 'Death Cult', with the help and support of Celtic Frost's vocalist, Tommy G. Warrior. A full-length album, 'R.I.P.' was recorded a year later, and the album showcased the band's instrumental abilities, as well as establishing Coroner as a force to be reckoned with in the thrash metal arena.
The production is very raw, but sounds well mixed - the bass is clearly audible, and the other instruments aren't too overpowering, neither are they weak or thin sounding.
Stylistically, the album is very similar to most thrash releases of the mid-eighties, straight-forward riffing with very few tempo changes, fairly run-of-the-mill lyrics, and a certain feel that the band is still finding it's own style and groove, all of which would change on their later albums.
Lineup for the album (and every album thereafter) is as follows:
Ron Royce - bass guitar, vocals
Tommy T. Barron - lead guitar, backing vocals
Marquis Marky - drums, backing vocals
Onto the actual music though...
The first track is a fairly calm intro, with piano and what sounds like a flute played over some atmospherics like blowing wind to set the mood.
The calm of the intro is shattered when the opening riff of 'Reborn Through Hate' kicks in. The first part of this song is a shred-fest, showcasing Tommy T. Barron's superb technique. The chops then give way to the first verse, and the listener is hit with Ron Royce's growling vocals, which most either love or hate. The solo in this first track is performed well, and overall is a great opening song.
The next song, 'When Angels Die', is similar, with a killer riff to support Royce's apocalyptic lyrics. There are some eerie backing vocals just before the riff gives into the solo, which is no less than stellar. Another verse and chorus follow and play out the song.
Next up is the intro to 'Nosferatu', the instrumental of the album. The accoustic intro is classic in tone, and is well played. Good intro to such a mind-blowing fretboard work-out. Nosferatu then punches in, a kick-ass riff leads into a massive solo which just goes and goes, and just when you think the song is reaching a peak, it peaks even higher.
These first few tracks are of very high standard, and I would give the first half of the album a solid 8.5/10.
Then comes what I think is a bit of a lull in the middle of the album, a few songs which although are good, fast thrash songs, lack the personality and intelect that Coroner's later albums had.
'Suicide Command' is the first of these, and is a good solid slab of hard hitting metal, which by the time the solo comes and goes will have you banging your head in time with the groove. However, the song overstays its welcome and runs a little longer than wanted.
'Spiral Dream', and 'R.I.P.' are both up to the same high standard, with very technical playing, and great solos, but nonetheless sound a little bit too much like each other.
'Coma' and 'Fried Alive' are a return to form, 'Coma' having a hugely bad-ass riff, and one of the better solos on the album, and 'Fried Alive' is guaranteed to had you banging your head viciously and yelling "CERTAIN DEATH" in the chorus.
Once again though, on the first few listens, it is very hard to distinguish between this batch of songs, as they all have similar qualities. This middle section would probably be worthy of 6/10.
And to the finalé, the closing of the album. This is what epitomises Coroner, circa 1987. An accoustic guitar once again begins to play, an intro to what I consider the highlight of the album, the adrenaline-fueled 'Totentanz'. The riffs gallop like a crazed pack of horses, along with the furious drumming of Marky for a couple of verses, only to burst into a orgasmic solo which goes straight back into the galloping riff from the beginning. The album then concludes with the gothic sounding outro, with keys and choir voices, which fades out and allows the listener to breathe once again... This section deserves 9+/10
All in all, it's a great album.
+Technical chops and great bass playing abound, and for a first effort, it really beats a fair bit of some of the thrash that bigger bands were churning out at the time.
-However, the production lets it down a bit, and some of the songs run into each other, which doesn't make them stick out individually. Furthermore, considering the ground-breaking metal that they made later on, it sounds rather primitive compared to later CDs.
So if you haven't heard any Coroner yet, you're probably better off checking out 'Mental Vortex' or 'No More Color'