Review Summary: I can finally thank Drake now because he brought back Body Count at their best form.
Body Count are a fairly popular Rap/Thrash metal outfit out of California fronted by famous rapper and actor Ice-T. He has been a fixture in Rap himself for a long time releasing eight studio albums from 1987-2006. Since then he has turned a new leaf and become a reality TV star, actor, and author to add to his ever-growing resume. Body Count had been done since their last release in 2006, Murder 4 Hire. Murder 4 Hire was disappointing for most fans, not getting anything as edgy or boisterous as one could hope. Ice-T felt the need to bring the balls back to Rap again with another Body Count record, and they bring it hard for the most part.
Sonically Body Count are back to their more simplistic roots. The guitar work is solid from beginning to end but the format is easy on that front. Play a rhythmic tune, create a solid beat, and lay in the back behind Ice-T's commanding vocals. The drums are hidden back even farther, barely registering anything on Manslaughter as a whole. Ice-T is the main attraction and the sound mixing seems to understand that. His vocal presence on the album is undeniable, managing to be both powerful and silly at moments. The manly statements he throws on the tracks might sound goofy for most but the posturing Ice-T can throw into those moments leave a stinging presence.
While never really creating a mind-blowingly great crossover track here, Body Count create a sizeable amount of quality ones. Talk ***, Get Shot is a grand introduction for Manslaughter. The main theme of the album is how soft the game has become, and this track shows off how bloody the game used to be. Insinuating that if you aren't a fan and have a problem with their message, you can simply get shot. The sound of the track is robust and loud, even throwing in a decent solo near the end. Another set of goofy tracks are both renditions of 99 Problems BC. The Rap version handles itself better with a less is more angle allowing Ice-T to command the track with some witty lyrics about the plethora of females that he loves. The rock version is perfectly fine but the silent opening in the rap version just kicks everything off more compelling. Institutionalized 2014 is a great cover of Suicidal Tendencies' classic anthem. Times have changed so the enemies attacked are video game culture, foreign telemarketers, and snooty health nuts. This track is the funniest of the bunch by a mile, and the guitar work is catchy as hell.
Body Count do get a bit more serious though. Back to Rehab is a lovingly serious song about people in your life that have addictions and care little about those around them. Getting high becomes more important than living a productive life in society. Ice-T shows off a lot of tough love throughout the track, with an endearing breakdown that sounds as if he and the bands members have people like this in their lives. Pray for Death is a simple revenge track in which Ice-T is torturing someone for a misdeed. The chorus is a bit repetitive overall, but the maniacal lyrical delivery is entertaining from beginning to end. Get a Job refers to sponges in life that are willing to leech onto the next option before solving problems first hand. There is a good bit of humor on the track but it's a kick in the ass to the people who mooch. The best track on the album is Pop Bubble though. This is Body Count's anti-popular rapper anthem. Jamey Jasta throws some nice bars on the track, doing his own rendition of rapping over heavy guitars. Ice-T kills it also, throwing some of the finest lyricism on the whole album.
Manslaughter has plenty of low points though. The title track on this record is pretty horrible. It kicks off with some silly thrash metal screaming and really flashy guitar work that doesn't fit whatsoever. Despite Ice-T's delivery, the themes and musicianship hurt the track. I love the message being delivered in Enter the Dark Side and getting a look into the band's lives in the past, but the sound never builds in an interesting way and the guitar solo that ends the track is just ugly. The main distractions come in back-to-back with Bitch in the Pit and Black Voodoo Sex. Bitch in the Pit sounds okay to the ears but the lyrics act like injuries in mosh pits are worth joking about and women being in them is incredibly rare. Every metal show I have been too have had multiple women in the pit and it's not all that shocking. Black Voodoo Sex starts off well with good guitar work and a story-telling odyssey that seems interesting. However, the chorus is repeated too often and there is no discernable flow to the track. The ending spoken work sound similar to Disturb's Down With the Sickness skit, only not quite as heinous or terrible.
Body Count are back and better than ever, even if they are a bit rough around the edges. there are plenty of good tracks on Manslaughter, interesting themes to indulge, and a whole lot of fun to be had if you can turn your mind off and go with it. However, some of the songs are quite bad, and the lack of good mixing for the drums is disappointing.