The cult trio from Zurich hits the road again in 2013 for 5 more shows. The Daily Rock has the privilige to have one of its members following the event as an insider. First step,the small but extreme Meh Suff Festival.
When in Spring 2011,after (too long) a fifteen year silence Coroner get on stage at Les Docks,in Lausanne,the fans excitement is running as high as the musicians stress. During this long time of inactivity,Ron Royce (bass/vocals) and Marquis Marky (drums),had totally left their instruments aside , whileTommy T . Baron (guitars) had worked mainly as a music producer, even though he also worked and toured for a while with Stephan Eicher and Kreator.
But the huge Coroner show at the Docks,in a venue that had reached boiling point and filled within credulous fans, and the following tour throuhout Europe and the US until the end of 2012 finally left everyone reassured : medias, fans, and most of all….the band!!!
But with the band remaining on standby for the best part of a year, doubt was slowly creeping up among the fans. Were we ever going to see the thrash metal trio (now turned into a four-piece band, as the brilliant Daniel Stoessel joined them to add various samples and effects) on stage?
Many being rather pessimistic, it’s with some sort of excitement teinted with relief that five more dates were booked early 2013: two in Switzerland, one in France, one in Norway, and finally one in the Netherlands, all within the second half of the year.
One of our reporters is to follow Coroner very closely on most dates, and report exclusively for the Daily Rock his impressions on each and every move of the boys from Zurich.
Coroner’s come back to France, after the Hellfest and Motocultor shows, seems obvious..The band, in the years before they split, has always had a very warm welcome , and therefore enjoys a special status here. But the boys from Zurich’s come back in Western France is due to Lorène Wienecke, one of Garmonbozia’s co-founders, who fell in love at first sight with the band. Too young to know the band before 1996, she fell for their music in the last few years. And when she finally got to see the band in the flesh during their now cult reunion gig in Les Docks, Lausanne, her decision was made. Coroner had to be headlining the Garmonbozia’s 15th anniversary, a Metal festival taking place in Rennes.
Therefore, after some smooth negotiations run brilliantly by Fred Chouesne, the festival’s director as well as a great Coroner fan, Coroner ends up at the top of the bill on that Saturday, October 26th 2013, whereas Napalm Death and Xentrix, among others played in the Rennes Liberté/L’Etage venue the night before.
As we arrive in the heart of Rennes, the « roots » atmosphere found at the Meh Suff festival seems far, far away.The place where Coroner will play tonight is a big and superb venue.
The musicians, flying in from Zurich are not there yet as we arrive. However, we are welcomed by Fred and Lorène, the organizers , as full staff members !! And it’s through the stage door that we get to discover this great venue. After being given our All Access pass, we enter the dressing room that has been reserved for Coroner and their staff. It’s not totally empty as Martin Zieller, today’s sound technician (sharing the task with Sebastian Raps Reiber) is already there, having just flown in separately from Geneva.
The musicians, joined by Danny, their light tech, first go for a walk around the place, in the backstage area, as gigs have already started a good half hour ago.They meet Lorène, who has a rather disconcerting reaction as she kneels before Tommy, who smiles, looking a bit embarassed. When one knows every band member’s humility ,even though they enjoy a cult like status, one won’t be surprised by Tommy’s obvious embarassement in front of such a display, however sincere and even moving…
It’s now time to go and get all the equipment out of the van, as well as the stock of Coroner Tshirts.Upon management request, and because now have a friendship bond after following their steps for so long, we offer to lend a hand to put up the merchandising stand. We barely have time to get the Tshirts out that a swarm of fans calls us for their first purchases !
During those somewhat tricky moments to deal with as external members to the band, we try and observe each musician’s attitude and behaviour in order to be able to report from the inside, while obviously doing our best to keep quiet and out of the way…
It’s now dinner time : Tommy, Ron,Daniel and Marky still seem far away from tonight’s gig. The atmosphere is jovial and relaxed, in spite of the language barrier, as between themselves the musicians exchange jokes in Swiss German. But towards the end the atmosphere shifts, as the band start their long psychological preparation preceeding the show.
Ron and Tommy both grab their instruments in order to start warming up. Tommy seems to be playing tunes mixing Jazz, Blues and rock. Ron frowns, remaining focused on the neck of his bass guitar and hums the lyrics of the songs in a voice that is barely audible despite the proximity. He then puts his bass aside and goes and spends a long moment re-reading the said lyrics….surprising detail,or maybe not, considering the fact that those songs were written two decades ago.
As the stock of Tshirts goes down dramatically on the merch stand, we decide it’s time to go and get settled in the concert hall. The venue, of a capacity of around 800 people is packed tonight, and many fans wearing Coroner shirts have already taken up the first few rows.
Setting up Marky’s drum kit is often the first step in this long and fastidious process. But since the first shows of the 2011 « Reunion Tour », we can feel the machine is now well on tracks.
And it’s obvious right from the start,with the nerve racking intro.Only die hard fans recognize what track the spoken intro is taken from. Of course, it’s the ending of « Shifter », released on the band’s very last album in 1995,and featuring a horrifying conversation on the phone where a desperate mother learns from her own son that he (again) commited murder….From then on,we are deep inside the atmosphere of a Coroner gig….
As the musicians get on stage during the intro of “Golden Cashmere Sleeper”,a heavy and oppressing track, immediately sets the standards. The audience’s welcome promises their best. Tommy comes and brandishes his guitar to incite them to let loose. And the band virtually sets the stage on fire as they link the following and powerful track, “Internal Conflicts”. The mosh pit is already red hot ant the difference with the atmosphere in front of a Swiss audience already striking.
The band then plays the groovy “Serpent Moves”, another track from their “Grin” album. Talented Daniel Stoessel’s special effects are perfectly audible, and amplify (if there ever was a ned to) Coroner’s so particular style.
Daniel is however discreet on the side of the stage, almost hidden behind the little console where his computer from which the effects come from lies.
And then the turning point of the show, “Metamorphosis”. What a track, what a musical wonder, without a doubt one of the most apocalyptic and slicing riffs in Metal’s history. First a thrilling and oppressing intro ,then that heaviness and Ron’s morbid singing….and finally, this bridge, now become legendray during Coroner’s shows. Tommy grabs his now famous E-Bow, some kind of electronic plectrum and blows us away with an as technical as sensitive demonstration, with a long Arabic sounding and mesmerizing solo. Magnificent.
“Divine Step” holds all the elements that define Coroner’s atypical metal: a seedy intro, possibly drawn from some horror movie, a slicing and relentless riff, followed by a frantic rhythmic sparing no neck!! A quick look behind us is enough to witness the extent of the damage among the audience….
After a short while the musicians come back on stage, and it’s Marky himself who comes and winds the audience up as they want more.
But as every good thing comes to an end, Coroner get off the stage at the end of a one hour show, leaving a totally stunned audience.
A bit later, as a meet and greet attempt turns short because of a slightly over-zealous security staff obviously eager to end their shift, we join the band backstage.
The organizers join us to congratulate the band for their show. Everyone takes it in turns to have a souvenir photo taken, the musicians never raising an eyebrow to any request.
Each band member is also asked to sign the festival’s guestbook and Tommy even receives a portrait of himself from our reporter.
The cheerful and relaxed atmosphere backstage is a million miles away from the oppressing set we witnessed onstage a few moments earlier….
Hervé RakowskiDaily Rock (text and photos)
Gaël Giraud (photos)
Translation by Thomas Chabanne
Huge and warm thanks to :
Coroner ans their staff
All the Garmonzobia team , especially Lorène et Fred
Michel for his precious help