Coroner – Mental Vortex

Now I’ve already done a review for Overkill’s Horrorscope that came out roughly the same time as this one.
However Coroner is a totally different brand of thrash than what most people are accommodated to.
They blend a lot of progressive elements into their music which in itself is not alien to thrash metal given the level of musicianship sometimes present in bands of the 1980’s thrash movement, but they most certainly manage to convey it in an original way that stands them apart from just about everyone else.
Coroner are probably the least recognized as far as pure, raw talent is concerned in the genre which continues to disgust me to no end, and giving this album a listen might clue at least some of you into just why that is.

A three-piece from Zurich, Switzerland and former roadies of Celtic Frost, Coroner first emerged with their album R.I.P which is a pretty straight forward thrash album with a heavy neo-classical influence which was directly expanded upon in their following album Punishment for Decadence that also happens to be a personal favorite of mine.
The guitar work of Tommy T. Baron (Thomas Vetterli), and bass lines of Ron Royer (Ron Broder) had already been showcased in both albums, putting them in terms of musicianship up, in my opinion, with the all the guys commonly referred to as being the best in their respective craft, their third album No More Colour saw them step away from the near constant 4/4 time signatures that dominated their first two albums, but for the most part continued with the thrash style of the first two albums but in the case of No More Colour with a more blues influenced style of songwriting.
These more abstract time signatures and tonal progressions were more heavily explored in Mental Vortex (minus the blues influence of No More Colour) at a time when bands like Metallica, Megadeth, and Testament were gravitating towards a more radio friendly and stripped down approach to their music, bands like Coroner and Kreator (in which Vetterli was later a member of in both the Outcast and Endorama albums) were not particularly concerned with being commercially viable, but more with following their own musical exploration.

Coroner in particular followed a natural progression of the band’s sound, and unlike the aforementioned thrash contemporaries never encountered a want or a need to change their lineup.
The trio’s formula remained very much intact but progressed naturally with the influences and stylism of each respective member at the time the albums were written.
With Mental Vortex there was all of the elements of thrash metal which they were known for by their fans, but at the same time they had slowed down their breakneck pace even more so than on the previous No More Colour, and recovered a greater sense of melodicism, and the aggression of their first two releases.
The final product was a varied and distinctive blend of musicianship and abrasive tonal and atonal riffs ranging from a steady 4/4 to more uncommon time signatures formulated into almost hypnotic grooves.
Vetterli shows in my mind beyond a shadow of a doubt in his performance on the album that he is the single most underrated guitarist in thrash metal, and Broder with his ever-present and evident solidifying bass playing that he too should be right up in the metal pantheon of the era.

How this band is consistently ignored is absolutely beyond me and Mental Vortex in particular epitomizes why that fact is an absolute crime.
While I’m not one of their fans who are put off by the more industrial sounding follow up Grin, to me they had managed showcase why the band is so absolutely fantastic both musically and lyrically with the release of Mental Vortex.

Some songs to check out from the album include the album’s first track (And a favorite of the band) Divine Step, a seven minute ass kicker ranging from a choppy tonal/atonal groove to fast paced triplet driven shreddery.
My own personal favorite is the third track Semtex Revolution that to me personally bridges the gap between their early albums R.I.P. and Punishment for Decadence, and the experimentation’s of No More Colour that they at this point had absolutely nailed.
Tommy Vetterli’s leads in both tracks are certainly nothing any self-respecting guitarists could turn their nose up at.

Again, check it out, and get down with some criminally over looked badassery.