Tidal Catalog #19: Cannibal Corpse

Introduction: For those of you that have stumbled across this website and are interested in reading about my trek through the universe of the Tidal streaming service, let me tell you a bit about what I did. Back in 2016 I thought it would be kind of cool to listen to artist’s catalog from start to finish and rank them from best to worst. After all, who doesn’t like a good list? I thought I might do a few of them and see what happened, hoping it would introduce me to records that were foreign to me in the arsenal of an artist I was familiar with. I also though that it would be pretty cool to get out of the “one off” mode of listening to a new record, years after the previous one, in order to get a true sense of how the artist matured over time. Flash forward to June of 2019 and 250 catalogs later, I have ended the trek. I posted these all on Facebook over the years as they were completed but I’m going to move them all over here, starting with #1, in order to expand them out a bit more. Facebook doesn’t exactly allow for great formatting, you know?

As with all my catalogs, to be considered in the ranking, an album has to meet certain criteria:

  • The artist must actually perform on 80% of the tracks (soundtrack and rap provision)
  • No compilations of previous released material will be included.
  • The album must have been released officially and within the realm of the label that the artist would have been on at the time or official releases posthumously (normally applies to a slew of live records)
  • Any EPs must contain new new music and be relevant to the catalog, not be more like a single with a b-side or two.
  • Compilations of previously recorded material will be included if they are remixes, bonus tracks, outtakes… mostly music that hasn’t been part of a main release before)

Entrance Point: I’ve been a metal fan for a few decades now and had listed to most of the Chris Barnes-era record at a minimum.

All albums ranked on a 10 point scale.

  • The Bleeding (9.5)

I often feel for critics in the metal genre at it must be hard to come up with something different when you have a band where pretty much everything follows the same formula. Cannibal Corpse is close to that but at least there’s a little variation.

There’s two distinct eras of Cannibal Corpse – the first four albums from 1990-1994 with Chris Barnes as the singer and then everything from 1996 forward with the band led by George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher. The Bleeding, marks the end of that first era and weirdly enough is the best album the band has made.

Cannibal Corpse is one of the few death metal bands that was known outside of metal circles and it wasn’t because they were loved but because of the sheer level of horrific gore in their lyrics. Back in the early 90s, Cannibal Corpse was a shocking band with graphic album covers and gore soaked lyrics, most of which no one could understand without reading a lyric sheet thanks to Chris Barnes’ growl. But Metal Blade got these dudes in the public eye, the brutal alternative to the rock shift of Metallica.

Chris Barnes went to hell after leaving the band but with Cannibal Corpse he was killer. The first three records were all pretty much the same, death metal but accessible and with incomprehensible growls. The Bleeding marked a shift for the ban though. The first three albums were solely based on speed. This album changed the tempos up a bit and added in a groove element that Barnes would later completely adopt in is new band Six Feet Under. So with this, musically you actually hear how technically skilled guitarists Rob Barrett and Jack Owen actually were. And Barnes decided to make his vocals decipherable as well. The general listener, if focused, should actually be able to make out what he’s saying as well. But it’s the music that makes this a brilliant record. The addition of the grooviness added some much needed variety at this point in their career. But the changes didn’t affected the sheer level of gore on the record either. Overall, all the key elements of Cannibal Corpse were present but they band finally decided to show they had actual ability rather than just being able to play with speed.

“Force Fed Broken Glass”
  • A Skeletal Domain (9.5)

Thirteen albums into their career as a band and Cannibal Corpse was still going strong in 2014, when they released A Skeletal Domain. It’s a bit tough to point out why this one stands out among a slew of really good records in their later period but in the end, I find it to be not only consistently well written across the board but has enough variation between death, groove and speed riffs to make it the most memorable of the last decade. I listened to this one the day it came out and couldn’t stop singing “Fire up the Chainsaw / cut their fucking heads off!” for weeks after listening to “Kill or Become” and even listening to it again today, the precise chant of the title of “High Velocity Impact Splatter” gets my adrenaline flowing. It has a feel like it’s the darkest album they have ever made and yet, very accessible. Exactly what makes Cannibal Corpse the death metal band you need in your life.

“Kill or Become”
  • Tomb of the Mutilated (9)

Looking back, it’s really weird to think that there’s a death metal band that a lot of non-metal listeners actually know about but if you talk to a random 35-45 year old music lover, you might have a shot at them knowing who Cannibal Corpse is, mainly thanks to this album. Back in 1992, this was pretty much the most disgusting album ever to reach the mainstream. With a horrific cover and a ridiculous amount of gore throughout the disc, this crossed over mainly for shock value. It’s not like your Nirvana and Pearl Jam fan could honestly understand the lyrics to any of these songs as Chris Barnes only grunted back at this stage. I’ve listened to metal for decades and still can’t understand a fucking thing he’s saying but you just needed the track titles to be disgusted. So disgusted that even today, the only one I’m actually typing here is “Hammer Smashed Face” since you know, I have a career and this is a public site. Haha.

“Hammer Smashed Face”
  • The Wretched Spawn (9)
  • Eaten Back To Life (9)
  • Torture (8.5)
  • Gore Obsessed (8.5)
  • Red Before Black (8)
  • Kill (8)
  • Butchered at Birth (8)
  • Evisceration Plague (8)

I could have talked about any number of late period releases in this section as honestly, you see the number of 8.5’s and 8’s here – which means there’s a bunch of records that really sound very similar – expected from a band such as this but Evisceration Plague was the album that got me back into the band. I had stopped listening for a while but decided to take a chance on this and was immediately drawn in by the precise blast beats but also the melody on some of these tracks. It’s actually the title track that makes me love this record, with it’s ferocious licks and a chorus that I can easily sing along with. It’s got a weak moment or two but it’s also groovy without softening the sound at all.

“Evisceration Plague”
  • Gallery of Suicide (8)
  • Bloodthirst (7)
  • Vile (7)
  • Torturing and Eviscerating Live (4)
  • Global Evisceration (4)
  • Live Cannibalism (3)

Summary: 17 albums, average: 7.5

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