Coroner – Mental Vortex Review

Swiss Thrash Metal band Coroner are purveyors of top quality technical Thrash Metal; with proggy, jazzy, avante guard tinges, but without going off the deep end and loosing the ability to crush you with pummelling riffs and catchy beats. I’ve heard them called ‘’The Rush of Thrash Metal’’ and while they don’t actually sound anything like Canada’s greatest trio, there’s an elasticity and eclecticism here that makes me understand the comparison.     

This 1991 album; their fourth and penultimate studio effort, usually seems to be tied with the previous album 1989’s No More Color for fan’s and critic’s favourite and the one recommended to newcomers. Mental Vortex sets itself apart from the band’s ‘80s output by featuring an increase in groove… but without doing the ‘90s Thrash band mistake of going too slow and too groovy and loosing the real power and energy that fans loved in the first place.

This album features some of these former Celtic Frost roadie’s most popular tracks, and it is the kind of thing you’ll always find in lists of best Thrash albums. Songs here are typically varied, complex, impressive and also somehow feature catchy and memorable sections instead of just disappearing up its own backside. There’s so much to hold onto, so much to get stuck in your head. Headbangable riffs, rhythmic vocal patterns, intriguing instrumental sections. Remember when Dark Angel made an album with 246 riffs but somehow even with all that technicality, the actual songs weren’t always all that memorable? This is the opposite.

I do usually prefer my Thrash with cleaner vocals (Anthrax, Forbidden, Overkill, Annihilator) rather than the raspier harsher style Ron Royce uses here, and if you aren’t into bands like Sodom and Destruction this may seem a bit difficult on the ears, but its got a nice clean production and superb musicianship, and some creative and unique song writing, which should more than capture your attention.

What happens when you cross ‘YYZ’ by Rush, ‘Tribal Convictions’ by Voivod, ‘Into The Lungs Of Hell’ by Megadeth and ‘Domination’ by Pantera? The real answer is ‘’probably a mess!’’ Luckily however, Corner have made something better than a mess here. Something a lot, lot, lot better than a mess. (Misguided Beatles cover aside, but then most Thrash bands have at least one questionable cover song). That sentence was just my enduring memory of my first impression of this record. I may have been late to the party, but I’d go as far as to say discovering this was the best time I’ve had discovering a new Thrash band since my first 5 years of being a metal fan.

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