Recently, Century Media released re-mastered editions of the first three classic Coroner albums, “R.I.P.” (1987), “Punishment for Decadence” (1988) and “No More Color” (1989). Certainly, these are splendid news for all those who worship their Greatness, as they have the opportunity to hear these historical monuments that – among others - defined the genre of technical thrash metal and influenced countless bands, under a more “clear” production.

“Punishment for Decadence” comes one year after Coroner’s debut and showed the true compositional talent of the band. Being more complex than its predecessor, with countless tempo changes between mid-paced parts and faster, frenetic sections, the album is mostly distinguished due to its emphasis on highly technical and more melodic guitar patterns. Indeed, Tommy T. Baron’s workout reveals a musicianship equal –if not superior- to the expertise of widely acclaimed and well-known guitarists of more popular genres. Even the most rigorous listener will appreciate his performance on “Arc-Lite”, an instrumental track that when I listen to, I have the poetic feeling that only a group of violins can transmit.

The whole band acts as a sophisticated Swiss clocking mechanism, with Ron Royce and Marquis Marky on bass and drums respectively being more precise than a year before and constituting a masterful rhythm section that the majority of bands of that time could not even conceive.

Coroner’s transition to a more guitaristic album is accompanied with a change in lyrical themes are well, since they decided to write about politicians and personal introspection (“Masked Jackal” is a classic example of public denouncement against corruption).

Although “Punishment for Decadence” is oriented to skillful guitar patterns, as evidenced by the spellbinding solo of “Arc-Lite” and peaks like “Masked Jackal” and “Skeleton on Your Shoulder”, it also contains songs that are more loyal to the original, thrashy attitude, as evidenced by “Absorbed” and “Sudden Fall”.

Overall, the album proved that Coroner were many years ahead of their time, sounding like a philharmonic orchestra that decided to play thrash. Honestly, I should be ridiculous if I mark this masterpiece with a grade other than 10.

♦ 10/10

Alex Nikolaidis