Review: Coroner “Punishment for Decadence” [Noise Records]

Review: Coroner “Punishment for Decadence” [Noise Records]

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Score 100%
Elegant thrashing art
100 %
User Rating : 4.9 (1 votes)

While I’m certainly not a huge technical thrash metal fan to begin with, certain albums remain wonderful to me and as far as I’m concerned, you can’t get better than Punishment for DecadenceR.I.P. was already a highly appealing offering of complex thrash, but Coroner took some serious steps upwards to a point that everything would fall into place.

Pick any track from Punishment for Decadence and you’ll be amazed by the combination of incredible musicianship and sophisticated, yet addictive material and enjoy the ride. “Absorbed” welcomes one to a bizarre circus where Tommy T. Baron does the craziest stunts; resulting into labyrinthine, yet logical opener of riffs appearing basically everywhere, yet nothing sounds out of place here. Coroner also relies on a few dreamier acoustic sections here and there, like they do with “Skeleton on Your Shoulder”, yet it’s clear that the band always put their riffs first. Picking up with some ominous riffs that recall Pestilence circa Malleus Maleficarum from the same year, the track never lets go. The speedy sections that shortly follow up sound fast and furious, yet extremely calculated; almost bringing to mind Slayer, if only they had earned a PhD in thrash metal at one point and we’re talking about yet another feast of never-ending riffs that have been used to absolute perfection.

If you think that it’s all about riffs and nothing else here, then you’ll be quickly proven wrong. I’m fond of Ron Royce’s spitting howls, as they almost recall a less tough Tom Warrior. I wouldn’t want it any other way, as an overpowering performance would probably be rather unnecessary for this kind of style (and no, he’s not whining like Tom did in the late 80’s, either). Tommy T. Baron’s solos are the icing on the cake, as they sound both inspiring yet intimidating at the same time; just hear how he sprints over the fret board like a maniac on the gang-shouting “Masked Jackal”, or how he’s all over the place on the instrumental “Arc-Lite”. Still, even the latter remains extremely memorable; the riffs jump back and forth and once the track takes a sinister turn with that tensed speedy riff around the first minute mark, you know that you’re in for yet another unforgettable experience.

As with most thrash metal albums, Punishment for Decadence features a limited amount of variation, but even the subtle changes here and there turn into fantastic results. “Sudden Fall” summons a vortex of clinical thrashing rhythms that have been created by scientists gone astray and even those simplistic, yet mosh-worthy riffs that make an unexpected encounter at one point result into the most fun you’ll ever have with this band. “The New Breed” seriously sums up the band’s technical skills and makes a ballsy move, as Tommy T. Baron’s cycle of maniacal riffs could easily result into disaster here, yet he never forgets what he’s capable of. If you ever wondered what playing thrash metal on master mode would sound like, then just hear those precise, yet thundering riffs flying everywhere once that elaborated guitar solo has finished. Saving the most epic tune for the last, “Voyage to Eternity” makes a fantastic ending of more thoughtful riffs blasting into the hemisphere and despite that fade out, I refuse to believe that Punishment for Decadence actually ends at one point. Perhaps the band kept on playing and the producer decided to use that fade out cause their time was running out? Either way, all good things come to an end, although I should admit that I could listen to these elegant riffs for many more hours… now where’s the replay button again?

With superb riff after superb riff, Coroner never had a finer moment and neither did technical thrash metal in fact. R.I.P. and No More Color are fine albums for what they are, but Punishment for Decadence remains one of the thrash metal essentials out there… and I doubt it will ever be beaten.

Release date: August 1st, 1988

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