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BODY COUNT Carnivore gets 6.5/10


Body Count

Carnivore
Century Media/Sony

6.5/10

While rap and metal had met before the start of the 90s, they hadn’t been paired in quite the same way as when Ice-T hooked up with his Crenshaw High School mate and guitarist Ernie C to create Body Count. With the anger and politics of the streets of LA, and a gangster rap attitude paired with heavy metal, Body Count burst onto the scene calling out brutality from the LAPD, drug addiction, racism and other controversial topics in a way that hadn’t been seen before.

None was more provocative than the track Cop Killer which saw the band condemned by then US President George Bush and flagged as the number one target of the PMRC. The controversy in some way was a distraction from the fact that this was a solid album, full of anthemic tracks like There Goes The Neighborhood, with big catchy hooks, fist in the air choruses and wild guitars.

Nearly three decades later much has changed. D-Roc, Beatmaster-V and Mooseman who made up half the line-up that recorded the epic self-titled debut are no longer with us. At 62, Ice-T has had a successful acting career, spending the better part of 20 years, perhaps ironically, playing a police officer on Law & Order SVU.

So after all this time, is Ice-T still angry? You bet.

Title track and album opener Carnivore sets a clear intent for the album, brutal growls heralding the arrival of Body Count as the predators, on the hunt and ready to feed. If you have missed their evolution over the last few decades, on first listen their seventh album is musically closer to the 1993 Ice-T/Slayer collaboration rather than the band’s debut album. Body Count circa 2020 is a different beast; the music is faster, heavier, darker and more aggressive.

Carnivore is backed up by the killer Point the Finger, featuring Power Trip vocalist Riley Gale, the first and probably best of the three tracks featuring guest contributors. Later in the album, Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed makes his second appearance on a BC album on Another Level, but unfortunately, that level isn’t quite as high as some of the other tracks.

Having previously paid tribute to influences like Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies, Lemmy and Motorhead get the shout out this time around with a straight down the line cover of Ace of Spades and it’s a rocking tribute that hits right between the eyes. Midway through the album, an Ice-T classic gets the Body Count treatment, with a metal makeover of his hit Colors. In stark contrast to the other tracks on the album, the Body Count equivalent of a ballad When I’m Gone is a deeply personal ode to friend Nipsey Hussle, the messages of love and loss backed by vocals from Amy Lee of Evanescence.

It’s not all the Ice show, Ernie C is still ripping things up, with big wailing solos scattered throughout the album and an aggressive barrage of fast-paced riffs that could easily slot into a Slayer album, all backed by the guitars of Juan of the Dead, bass of Vincent Price and Will ‘Ill Will” Dorsey Jr’s drum work.

A song that could have easily been at the top of the album, the alternating paced riffs of The Hate is Real closes things on a perfect note. While the sound may have changed in 30 years, many of the issues haven’t, keeping Body Count as relevant politically and musically as ever. As an album Carnivore is a mixed offering, but there’s more than enough meat for Body Count fans to satiate their hunger.

DAMIEN CROCKER

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