Recently an LP version of Coroner's Death Cult demo appeared on the market. It's most certainly a bootleg, so I won't link to it. But it's a good excuse to discuss the 1986 demo, one of metal's coolest historical artifacts. Death Cult's four songs featured Tom G. Warrior on vocals. It's Coroner's first demo, so they hadn't yet become a technical thrash juggernaut. Instead, they showed strong roots in traditional metal. With Warrior on the mic, the demo sounded a bit like Celtic Frost meets Mercyful Fate. It's as cool as it sounds.

The Death Cult demo is all over the Internet. Normally, this would be good news for you. But I've downloaded at least four different versions of the demo, and it's been a nightmare sorting them out. People are ripping from CD's (bootlegs) and tapes, and not only is sound quality all over the place, the tape rips vary wildly in speed. (Avoid the rip - it's ridiculously sped up.) Someone needs to get the rights to this and do a proper reissue.

In the meantime, here are the two least-bad versions of the demo I've found. I've cleaned up the MP3 tags and included, along with the original tape cover, images of the CD and LP bootlegs.

The first version is a rip from a CD bootleg. It includes two bonus tracks from rare compilations; they have Coroner bassist/vocalist Ron Royce on vocals. The sound is tinny but clear. It reminds me of the sound of the first CD's way back in the '80s. The second version is a tape rip that must have undergone mastering. It sounds very modern, which is kind of wrong, but it also makes the music come alive in a way that the CD lacks. The sound is loud, bassy (it's a pleasure to hear Royce's fluid lines), and warm (the occasional tape dropouts are charming). Sanford Parker could have produced it. These two versions couldn't be more different, yet they each have their own merits.

(You can compare tracks from them below.)

"Spiral Dream" (CD bootleg)

"Spiral Dream" (Mastered tape)

Coroner are reuniting to play next year's Hellfest. They also might perhaps maybe could write new material. That would be interesting in today's musical climate. At least one band today - Vektor - has a lot of Coroner in its DNA.

— Cosmo Lee

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