Coroner - No More Color
Noise Records
Thrash Metal
8 songs (34:22)
Release year: 1989
Noise Records
Reviewed by Charles
It’s possible to regard thrash as the underachieving eldest brother of extreme metal family; still acting like a teenager getting wasted and playing videogames while it’s younger brothers, death and black, do the job of making the parents proud. Whilst they graduated from their roots to assume more experimental or techinically demanding forms, in the late 2000s thrash continues to relive its youth over and over again in increasingly retro form.

But this is less a result of thrash musicians simply having been unimaginative, and more the fact that its building blocks have been so much more rigidly defined than those of other genres. What is thrash? Well, it ought to be fast, and it ought to be based riffed hooks linked together by an relentless, kinetic “dugduggadugduggadug” in the rhythm guitar. Sort of there, right? Ask an open-minded black metal devotee how to define the genre, and you will get a shrug, something about “atmosphere”, followed by a lengthy circular argument.

When you are working with such a precisely-defined idiom it really takes flair to come up with something truly creative that doesn’t lose the spirit that made the thing in the first place. Enter Coroner. Persevere as I might with Watchtower and Mekong Delta, this is the band that manages to perfectly balance a demanding, virtuosic approach to composition and performance with the necksnapping immediacy that thrash is nothing without.

The first thing that sets No More Color apart is the ambitiousness of its tunes themselves. Take opener Die By My Hand. Whilst the vocal lines are at the fore, we have a relatively straightforward crunch. But elbowing their way into these more prosaic passages are twisting instrumental transitions based on rhythmic and melodic ideas so complex that you would expect them to form fragments of a lead guitar solo with any other band. But here, these flourishes are repeated and transformed into unpredictable, impossibly manoeuvred riffs.

This record is not a safe, sure classic consisting of flawless track after flawless track. At times it seems uneven, with some numbers being conspicuously weaker than others. (No Need to be Human is not something that needs to be put on repeat, for example). What it does have is one of metal’s most utterly magnificent centrepieces in Mistress of Deception, something truly jaw-dropping. The gleamingly intricate principle riff somehow manages to sear itself onto the eardrum after the first listen, before giving way to athletic unison lead lines that set the track’s soul on fire, (or afire, as Dave Mustaine might say). Aside from adventurous segues into thundering blues diversions and even ambient latin percussion-filled breakdowns, we also get surely one of the most untouchable guitar solo entries of rock history, as the lead departs from the script suddenly and dramatically at 1:46.

These are the moments, near impossible to describe in words, that make this album a metal classic. It is one of thrash’s most creative records, but also one of its most lovable, demonstrating just what can be achieved with its seemingly limiting bricks and mortar.

Killing Songs :
Die By My Hand, Mistress of Deception
Charles quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Coroner that we have reviewed:
Coroner - Mental Vortex reviewed by Bar and quoted CLASSIC
Coroner - Punishment for Decadence reviewed by Aaron and quoted 96 / 100
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