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

Tidal Catalog #13: Snoop Dogg

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.

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: It’s the Snoop D-o-double-g baby! Very familiar with a large portion of his albums.

Included: Two albums from his group Tha Eastsiderz, his collaboration with Nate Dogg and Warren G under the moniker 213, his collaboration with Dam Funk under the name 7 Days of Funk and the Mac & Devin Go To High School Soundtrack. In addition, when he rebranded himself Snoop Lion – well, that’s here too.

Not Included: Murder Was the Case, Bones and The Wash soundtracks as they are credited to him but he’s not performing on most of the tracks. Same deal with Bible of Love, the gospel record credited to Snoop but is more of a compilation of other artist’s gospel tunes.

All albums ranked on a 10 scale.

  • Doggystyle (10)

Bow wow wow, yippy yo yippy yea, Snoop Doggy Dogg’s in the muthafuckin’ house! If I had put any album other than Doggystyle at the top here, I might as well just have stopped doing these catalogs. What two albums defined the West Coast G-Funk sound more than Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle? Pair this up with Dre’s record and you’ve got a duo of records that defined my hip-hop universe as I was moving from high-school to college and going from a kid to a man. That said, it took many years of being an adult to even partially understand the lyrics about life in the ghetto (and I say “partially” because as a white dude that grew up in the suburbs, I will never fully understand) as I’m sure in high-school I was just listening to “Murder Was the Case” because it was a great song. Doggystyle of course introduced us to “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?)” “Gin and Juice” and “Doggy Dogg World.” But what makes an album a classic is that the non-singles are recognizable as well. “Murder Was the Case” was later made into a movie and released but you know what sticks in my mind? The MTV Video awards where Snoop rolled onto the stage in a wheelchair to perform it. Songs like “Tha Shiznit” “Lodi Dodi” and “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None)” might be just as well known as the hits. This is the type of album that takes me back to the time when I was actually listening to it, walking the streets to school, riding my bike around the neighborhood and likely shufflin’ to the beat the same way I still did a few moments ago listening to this album again.

“Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None)”
  • Paid tha Cost to Be da Boss (9.5)

The most amazing thing about Snoop Dogg’s 6th album is that it’s 1:18:59, which if I’m not mistaken, at least at the time, was the maximum length of time a CD could hold, which would make this literally the only disc I know of that’s at full max capacity. There’s also a double intro. The first two tracks are both intros. I really know no other disc that has an intro and I guess an intro-intro. Leave it to Snoop.

After his second record, Snoop left Death Row and signed with Master P and No Limit, which wasn’t really a match made in heaven. So he formed his own Doggystyle label and then licensed this album to Priority and Columbia. With that, his sound changed pretty drastically and shaped the rest of his career. His first two records were g-funk to the max. Then with No Limit he picked up the standard NOLA southern hip-hop sound 0f the label, that you might have heard with artists like Mystikal or Juvenile, while at the same time trying to keep some of the g-funk sound but with producers that simply weren’t Dr. Dre. But Paid tha Cost to Be da Boss introduced the world to a new smooth side, with R&B, singing and more upbeat ass-shaking beats. The very underrated “From the Chuuuch to the Palace” produced by Pharrell was a great first single as it immediately said “welcome to a new era.” And by this point we all know Pharrell’s beats are fun and upbeat. The second single though put Snoop fully back into the spotlight as another Pharrell joint, “Beautiful” went to #6 on the charts which was his biggest hit at the time (before the third single in a row from Pharrell, which of course is hit biggest hit, the #1 smash “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”

But really it’s the Battlecat produced hip-hop/R&B mix “Ballin'” that has Snoop rhymin’ over a laid back smooth beat that really shines a light onto the future of him as an artist. And “Lollipop” featuring Jay-Z and Nate Dogg should have been released as I’m sure it would have been a major hit. There’s also DJ Premiere re-creating the Batman theme song for a duet with the Lady of Rage appropriately called “Batman & Robin.”

So at this point in Snoop Dogg’s career, you know he can go gangsta if he wants to and that him and Dr. Dre are like two peas in a pod. And now you know that he can make more laid back tunes, hold a tune if he wants to sing and rap about chicks and weed all he wants. Plus he doesn’t necessarily need Dre to have a hit. As the years progressed, Snoop would be all over the map so this album really was the start of making him one of the most versatile rappers in the game.

And yet still, the most amazing thing about this album? 78 minutes and 59 seconds and virtually every one of them is enjoyable. There’s no filler (hey, interludes are a part of hip-hop culture) and while I often wondered if it was ever going to end, not once was it because I didn’t like what I was hearing.

“Ballin'”
  • Bush (9.5)

Bush is the soundtrack for smoking weed by the pool with Martha Stewart.

This was an album that should have happened long before it did in 2015. And it was a very surprising record mainly due to the fact that Snoop had just released his reggae album as Snoop Lion and said that he was going that direction moving forward. But how quickly things change. So Bush is a full collaboration with Pharrell and the Neptunes after years of a hit hear and there between the them. And the sound of the record is something that Snoop has never really done before. It’s a very smooth, fun, upbeat and light disco funk record, hearkening back to the 70s while sounding very much like it came out of the Pharrell camp. Snoop only occasionally raps over the course of the record, instead he’s choosing to sing on most of this and is backed by his buddy Charlie Wilson all over the place. I was a bit shocked when I heard this upon release for how different this is for Snoop. But that’s what makes him great.

“Edibles”
  • The Blue Carpet Treatment (9)
  • R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece (9)
  • 7 Days of Funk – 7 Days of Funk (8.5)

This is part of the short period where Snoop just kind of went in any direction he wanted. Early in 2013 he called himself Snoop Lion and put out a reggae record (more on that below) and then soon after that he pared with modern funk artist, Dâm-Funk and called himself Snoopzilla, to create a funk track for every day of the week. So this record rolls back into the G-Funk realm, though more laid back than his early days. Snoop’s smooth flow over pure funk beats obviously works great so the record is enjoyable even if predictable. The only real complaint is just like what happened with George Clinton in the 80s and beyond, some of these tracks are just too busy with instrumentation and sound effects that it can be distracting at times.

“Let It Go”
  • Ego Trippin’ (8.5)
  • Tha Eastsiderz – Tha Eastsiderz (8.5)
  • The Doggfather (8.5)
  • Tha Last Meal (8)
  • Mac & Devin Go To High-School soundtrack (8)
  • Neva Left (8)
  • 213 – The Hard Way (7.5)
  • No Limit Top Dogg (7)
  • Cuzznz (7)
  • Tha Eastsiderz – Deuces N Trayz: The Old Fashioned Way (7)
  • Coolaid (7)
  • Make America Crip Again (6)
  • Snoop Lion – Reincarnated (6)

Here’s an album that I really wish had better execution. In 2013, Snoop decided to rename himself Snoop Lion and put out a reggae record. Looking back, I wish he would have enlisted a true Jamaican reggae producer to work on the disc but instead he went with Diplo and his band Major Lazer. Nothing terribly wrong with Major Lazer overall but this was like going half way for Snoop. The album feels exactly like it should with Diplo producing, an EDM tinged reggae album and Snoop really needed something that sounded a bit more authentic in the end. First single “Here Comes the King” is a decent tune but kind of sounds like an American parody of the genre. It certainly doesn’t help that there’s a song with the decidedly not reggae, Rita Ora and the even less reggae, Miley Cyrus. I really feel that he wanted to go for something like this that collaborating with Miley really wasn’t the way to go. Personally, I would welcome another Snoop Lion record but how ’bout a collaboration with Damian Marley instead?

“Ashtrays and Heartbreaks”
  • Malice ‘N Wonderland (6)
  • Doggumentary (6)
  • 220 (5)
  • Da Game is to be Sold, Not to be Told (5)

Snoop’s music has been all over the map over the years – some is good, some is average but rarely has there been a point where it felt like he was in a true rut. However, if there was one, it was from 1998-2000 when he left Death Row because of the volatile situation there and signed with Master P’s No Limit records. No Limit had its run of hits thanks to Master P’s incredible marketing skills but the reality is that while he was a master of marketing and promotion, he wasn’t much of a rapper and his stable of artists really weren’t that great. Mystikal had his hits, so did Silkk the Shocker but other than that, the label was filled with mediocre rappers.

It was a bit weird at the time for Snoop to be welcomed with open arms into the No Limit stable, as rappers from other crews rarely made such a drastic switch. And that’s really what this was. Snoop went from west coast g-funk, to southern rap. All of No Limit’s records really had the same type of beat, what would go on to be the New Orleans hip-hop sound and that even applied to Snoop coming over to the label after being an established artist. This album not only feels so wrong in his catalog but it’s also extremely long and unlike Paid tha Cost to be da Boss, these songs aren’t nearly good enough to withstand 70+ minutes of it. He ended up creating three records on No Limit and with each one, they tried to incorporate a bit more of the west coast style back in but with almost no success. Credit due to Snoop though for reinventing himself after leaving the label in 2001 as three rough albums in a row would be the death of lesser artists.

“Woof!”

Summary: 23 albums, average 7.6

Adjusted Summary following Update #1: 24 albums, average 7.5