Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Album Review: Grin by Coroner 1993 (4/5)

Coroner's Grin, released in 1993 is a very interesting metal album. It's definitely not one that you can pop in for the first time and immediately fall in love with it. At least that wasn't the case with me. Now, you will be able to tell instantly that there is a lot going on and it could be something very special, but it isn't readily apparent just what that is or if it's really worth giving it many more listens to find out.

As I was trying to get into this album, I noticed a couple things: it seems to have all the right elements - the riffs are good, drumming is just fine, the songs seem well put together and the guitar solos are very well crafted and technical. But for some reason I felt tired while listening to this album. I'd be pepped up and ready to go in the beginning but after a few songs I'd feel lethargic and ready to take a nap. Was it just me? Or is this album really a doozer?

After many listens I can say that this is one of those albums that has to grow on you. You have to give it time to set in to get it and enjoy it. But at the same time I do think there are a couple flaws, a few areas that if they would have done better would have taken it it from a 4/5 album to a 5/5 album. One of the main things that hurts this album in my opinion is the production. Now I'm not a producer and it's hard to say exactly what went wrong, but simply put the album sounds boring. It's lifeless. The bass isn't as high in the mix as they should be, and it seems like they were going for a more refined and clean sound - which took away some of the energy it might otherwise have had. It's too quiet - the instruments aren't caked into each other sonically enough - you can see right through them. Also, the snare drum is too loud compared to everything else and the high-hat is too quiet and closed in places where it should be more open and rocking it to give the song more "energy". As I listen to this album I can't help but be reminded of the production sound of White Zombie's La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1. If Grin would have had that type of sound the songs would really have come to life a lot more.

Another thing that makes this album a little tiring is the generally slower tempo for the genre. Every song seems to be dragging just a tad bit. There is also a somewhat "jammy" feel to the album - 1 riff might last a couple minutes, and most of the songs are over 6 minutes. One very high point are the guitar solos by Tommy Vetterli. He does a great job of bringing some emotion into the riffs (which unfortunately sound otherwise somewhat lifeless due to production) and at times his playing reminds us of Joe Satriani.

I'm not going to say that this is a must-have metal album but if you want to expand your horizons just a tad bit and try something new, definitely check out Coroner's Grin.

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