Review Summary: Body Count are back in the house and they mean business.
30 years is a long time, especially if you’re Ice T. For nearly 3 decades now, he has been singing about social injustices such as racism and police brutality and you can forgive him for getting a bit fed up with the fact that nothing has changed. After his metal band Body Count released the rather tongue-in-cheek Manslaughter in 2014, certain events in the US caused Ice to rediscover the pure unadulterated outrage that crafted this year’s Bloodlust, released rather poignantly on the 25th anniversary of Body Count’s infamous self-titled debut. And this album shows that, even as he enters his 60s, Ice T is still leading the frontlines of socially conscious rap and metal, with Bloodlust standing as one of the most lyrically vital albums of 2017 so far.
Opening with “Civil War”, we’re treated to a cameo which certainly raised a few eyebrows when it was first announced, with Megadeth’s very conservative mastermind Dave Mustaine delivering a radio broadcast that declares that “America is now engaged in civil war”. However, his contributions blend seamlessly into Body Count’s crossover thrash rage, with an impressive solo to boot. This album has the most guest appearances of any Body Count album to date, and each one is a perfect addition to each track, standing out while at the same time not overshadowing the work of the band. Max Cavalera’s contribution on “All Love Is Lost” is more restrained than his fellow guests, but nonetheless his signature bark adds extra depth to the track, while Randy Blythe’s vocals on “Walk With Me...” are an album highlight.
However, it’s not as though Body Count need guests to create a top quality album, they merely sit as the cherry on top. Ernie C, having now established a proper songwriting repertoire with Juan of the Dead, Vincent Price and Ill Will (with only Price appearing on BC’s last pre-breakup album, 2006’s Murder 4 Hire), is now on the top of his game. With Vincent Price co-writing the majority of the tracks, they’ve created a wall-to-wall barrage of hardcore rage, tinged with thrash metal chaos and rounded out by Ice T’s rapping – still showing the youngsters how it’s done after all this time in the music biz. Even when they slow things down on “This Is Why We Ride”, a tribute to all of Ice and Ernie’s friends who ‘never made it out of the hood’, there is still that sense of urgency to their music. The samples of Sean E Sean can’t be forgotten either. Despite being one of the 3 surviving founding members of the band, Sean E Sean is never given enough credit for the impact his samples have on the music, with the use of police sirens, gunshots and news reports adding extra depth to the straight up intensity that the others conjure up.
There are hardly any negatives to pick up on this album, really. The only thing you can really say is that if you didn’t like Body Count to begin with, this probably won’t change your mind. Ice T has always been very hands on with his lyrics, whether they be a fictional account of a psychopath or serious lyrics regarding racism and police brutality, and if you don’t like what he has to say, then his on-the-nose delivery may be too much for you. It can also be said that, despite a very enjoyable cover of Slayer’s classics “Raining Blood” (listed as “Raining In Blood”) and “Postmortem”, Vincent Price’s vocals on the “Postmortem” cover can be a bit jarring. It’s also hard to discern just what Ice T’s son, Little Ice, contributes to the album, having been credited as full-time backing vocalist in the album’s notes. While we’re probably going to see more of Little Ice as Body Count tour in support of Bloodlust, it just seems like an oddity as his presence is completely anonymous on the recording.
However, those are only minor negatives, as long as you came into this as a fan, or with an open mind, towards Body Count and their message. When they get serious with songs like “No Lives Matter” and “Black Hoodie” (a song inspired by the shooting of Travyon Martin by George Zimmerman in 2012), nothing can stop Body Count. With songs retracing all the key moments of the band’s 25 year history, from the thrash beginnings, through their darker heavy metal days of the late 90s and Violent Demise: The Last Days, right through to their hardcore oriented Manslaughter, they provide a surprising amount of diversity despite their trademark sound permeating every track. Not only is it one of the most consistent albums of the year, it’s quite possibly an early contender for album of the year. And with the future looking uncertain around the world, Ice T will have plenty of subjects to rail against if he decides to return to the studio in the near future, and should hopefully inspire a new wave of hardcore bands to follow suit. Body Count are back in the house, mother ***ers.