Sound: Grin, released in 1993, was Coroner's last 'real' studio album. It's their penultimate release, followed only by their self-titled compilation album. Here, the band strips the material down to it's bare bones and concentrates more of repeated, groovy riffs than the technical mastery of their previous releases. But wait! Don't write Grin off just yet! Although this may seem horrifying to a lot of Coroner fans the band manages to hold up very well indeed, with some incredible riffs and infectious vocalwork. This album has somewhat of a more industrial feel to it in areas, which is probably the only really offputting thing - some of the samples or synths can really grate, especially when you're used to the blistering technicality of their older works, although it does work rather well most of the time. The complex song structures aren't as complex as before, now replaced by more familiar progressions shown by the likes of Sepultura etc. but the odd time signatures the band is reknowned for are still very much present. Tommy Vetterli still shreds like an absolute motherf--ker on a large majority of the songs, Ron Royce sounds as pissed off as ever and Marquis Marky is still pounding the drums harder than thought possible. Songs like 'Internal Conflicts', 'Grin (Nails Hurt)', 'Serpent Moves' and the astounding 'Status: Still Thinking' can still showcase the bands talent despite the stripped back nature of the songs. One song on this album stands out, 'Paralized, Mesmerized' - as with 'ABout Life' on Mental Vortex, this song is a mixture of Coroners classic sound and their newfound direction on Grin, and it has possibly the best solo section this album has to offer. The tone on this album is slightly more bass-heavy than it was on Mental Vortex, but it suits the record quite well and once again, the mixing job is superb. // 8
Lyrics: As usual, Ron Royce delivers the goods with his vocal performance on Grin. However, the lyrics aren't as impressive as the poetic masterworks from Mental Vortex - as with the music itself, the lyrics are stripped back and rather basic. One line from 'Status: Still thinking' reads; "Don't wanna know your brother's name/Don't wanna know your sister's face/Don't wanna know your mother's age/Don't wanna know your father's wage". Just rather bland lyrics, and very predictable rhyming progressions. Top marks for Ron's performanc eon Grin, no question about that, but the lyrics are rather dire to sya the least. A disappointment. // 6
Overall Impression: Don't be mistaken, this album is a fantastic slice of metal - the bands performance, as ever, is spectacular and only rivalled by the very best in their genre. But after the incredible No More Color and the masterful diversity of Mental Vortex, Grin feels like a step backwards for Coroner. This is by no means a bad album, in fact it's probably better than 99% of metal albums released in 1993, but by Coroners standards it's a slight disappointment. Standout tracks are most certainly 'Internal Conflicts', 'Serpent Moves', 'Paralized, Mesmerized', 'Status: Still Thiniking' and 'Grin (Nails Hurt)' although there's not really a track that could be considered so bad that it should be skipped. Admittedly, 'Caveat (To the Coming)' has a very irritating chorus oh "You won't change my future" and it tends to really piss me off with it's repetition. All in all, Grin is a worthy purchase and well worth hunting down. Just don't expect another Mental Vortex.
Grin was released on 10th September 1993 through Noise Records. It has since been long out of print. // 8