CORONER — Mental Vortex (review)

CORONER — Mental Vortex album cover Album · 1991 · Technical Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
"Mental Vortex" is the 4th full-length studio album by Swiss thrash metal act Coroner. The album was released through Noise Records in August 1991. It´s the successor to "No More Color" from 1989. The three-piece lineup who recorded all three predecessors is intact: Tommy T. Baron (Tommy Vetterli) on guitar, Ron Royce (Ron Broder) on bass and vocals, and Marquis Marky (Markus Edelmann) on drums.

Stylistically "Mental Vortex" is quite different from "No More Color (1989)". The material on the 8 track, 47:30 minutes long album is still technical thrash metal, but the pace has generally been lowered and the tracks on "Mental Vortex" are predominantly mid-paced and heavy, and features fewer fast-paced sections than the case was on the predecessor. It´s audible that Coroner at this point in their career felt they needed to experiment and develop their style a bit more drastically than they had done between the first three releases (not that there wasn´t great development of sound between those releases too) and paired with the general change on the thrash metal scene in those years, "Mental Vortex" is very much an album of it´s time. Coroner have not "softened" their sound or have begun to incorporate alternative metal elements like some of their contemporaries did in those days, so it´s more a matter of songwriting approach and a refusal to be labelled "just" a thrash metal act. Their brilliant cover of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" by The Beatles is an example of that. There´s an occasional dark, almost dreamy psychadelic touch to some of the tracks, which is a new element too, but Coroner don´t go overboard with those ideas.

"Mental Vortex" features a detailed and powerful, but also pretty sterile, sound production, which has robbed Coroner´s music of the organic touch it possessed on the previous releases (I´m not surprised that the album is produced by Tom Morris). It´s still a professional and well sounding production job, but it´s just very different from the sound on the predecessors. The playing is as always on a very high level. Especially guitarist Tommy Vetterli delivers one killer riff after another, and his solo work is extraordinaire (and often neo-classical influenced). Sometimes the technical shifts in rhythm sound a bit forced and awkward, disrupting the flow of the tracks, but other times those sections work pretty well.

In addition to the above mentioned cover of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", highlights include "Son of Lilith" and "Semtex Revolution", but "Mental Vortex" is pretty consistent in both quality and style. So upon conclusion it´s another high quality release by Coroner. It doesn´t exactly reach the heights of "No More Color (1989)", which was always going to be a difficult task, but it´s still an interesting release in its own right. It shows development and reeks boldness, which are parameters I value greatly, so while this is not what I would call Coroner´s best release, I still think a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is fully deserved.
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