ALBUM REVIEW: Body Count ‘Bloodlust’
Body Count was one of the first groups to incorporate hip-hop elements in metal. As explained on one of the tracks, Body Count is a band frontman Ice-T put together so that one of his best friends Ernie C could play guitar, and the sound was inspired by bands like Black Sabbath, Suicidal Tendencies and Slayer.
Bloodlust lives up to its name as a dark record. Unlike predecessor Manslaughter, there is no funny songs. The band has taken inspiration from the last three years, especially the political climate in the United States. They tackle racism, class warfare, police brutality, crime, revenge, death and betrayal.
Opening song “Civil War” tells the story of the United States declaring martial law as the country descends into civil war. It features Dave Mustaine of Megadeth contributing lead guitar. Pure metal. The death growls of “civil war” with the grim lyrics set the tone of the whole record with brutal thrash. The line “The country’s divided” could be seen as the message of the entire album.
“Ski Mask Way” addresses poverty and crime. When youths are poor and desperate, many of them resort to robbery to support themselves. It has one of the catchiest choruses on the album – “I gotta get paid/the ski mask way”.
The band’s talent lies in its storytelling abilities. “This is Why We Ride” sees Ice-T breaking down the reasons for why there’s so much violence in the hood from his own perspective. It’s the most “rap metal” song on the Bloodlust.
The anger, revenge and betrayal is most prevalent on “All Love Is Lost”, a track where Ice-T absolutely disparages an unnamed person who betrayed him. The heavy, repeating riffs and the chant “ALL LOVE IS LOST” makes one of the most cathartic tracks on the record.
Track five on the album is a cover of “Raining Blood”, ending with a snippet of “Postmortem”, both by Slayer. It’s a great energetic cover, and feels right at home with the anger of Bloodlust.
“Walk With Me” is another great thrash/groove metal moment on the album, and features the legendary Randy Blythe from Lamb of God on vocals.
“No Lives Matter” is one of the most political and hard hitting songs. It opens with a monologue by Ice-T, explaining why saying “All Lives Matter” dilutes the Black Lives Matter movement, and that no lives matter when someone is from a lower class background, yelling “They can’t fuck with us…they can’t split us up…don’t fall for the bait and switch/racism is real but not it”. Ice-T may be a wealthy man now, but he grew up poor and he had experienced violence first hand.
The title track talks about humans killing for sport, and for revenge, and how bloodlust is a perversion, and a sickness. “Black Hoodie” references Treyvon Martin with an opening monologue “and now you can kill a motherfucker, just because of how he’s dressed…are you fucking serious?!”. The band has discussed police brutality since the first album’s infamous cut “Cop Killer”.
Bloodlust is a challenging, brutal album, that reflects 2017 in American politics. Many of Body Counts themes from over 20 years ago are just as relevant today, especially police brutality.
Heavy metal and Ice-T fans will love Bloodlust. It has a clear identity and message, and perfectly captures this time period.
Words by Stefan Bradley.