ALBUM REVIEW: Body Count – Carnivore

You gotta face the facts, you will never be as cool as Ice-T. Never. He came from the streets of Los Angeles to become an iconic figure of Hip-Hop, movies and television, and Metal music. For some people, it seems like there is no mountain they can’t climb, and Ice is one of those guys. Sure, he could chill and sit back on the Law and Order: SVU Special Victims Unit money, and all those royalties. In actuality, he has been working harder than ever on music the last decade-plus, specifically for his groundbreaking band Body Count. All the evidence you need is on their new album, Carnivore. (Century Media).

This is possibly the very best Body Count album and Ice is on some G.O.A.T. level performances and writing here. Considering how good the last few BC albums have been, that is quite an achievement. The record is very needed in 2020. Abrasive, unapologetic, rough and tumble, intellectualism and social commentary right out on front street. Carnivore is brutal and beautifully produced by Will Putney (Thy Art Is Murder, Fit For An Autopsy, Norma Jean, Unearth).

Carnivore starts off with a mission statement of a title track. It comes with a deadly groove and Ice-T spitting sick verses about the ills of human nature and the law of the hood. My hometown of The Bronx, New York is as far across the country as you can get from Ice’s Los Angeles stomping grounds. Having grown up a poor kid from the Housing Projects, this story of struggle and survival is as real to me now as my own life used to be. And yes, that is some monstrous lions roar in the chorus! It serves notice that this is a different kind of animal of an album for Body Count.

A lovely tribute to Lemmy and Motörhead comes next with ‘Ace of Spades.’ It has a nice bit of narration It’s a solid re-telling, which is fine since an attempt to change it wouldn’t work. Then comes the first of the collaborations: ‘Point The Feature’! The track features Riley Gale of Power Trip, the track is a fiery banger with exceptional lyrics. The single ‘Bum Rush’ is hard but has a fresh uptempo beat that could almost pass for danceable. Insane riffs and double-bass for the headbangers. Definitely the circle pit anthem mosh track of the album.

In a Marvel Team-Up style song, ‘Another Level’ features Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed. The contrast between Ice’s rhymes and Jasta’s more melodic Doom Metal vocals is great and the song is slow and brooding! It’s kind of got a punk PMA vibe lyrically. Arguably the highlight of the album is the solo Ice-T classic cover of ‘Colors’. Yes, there are amazing originals on this album, but this cover is unreal. Not only is it brilliantly arranged, it comes off like the musical offspring of 1980s Slayer and Thrash era Suicidal Tendencies. Which makes a lot of sense when you hear Dave Lombardo plays drums on the track. Seriously, it’s like a lost Slayer outtake towards the end. So good!

‘No Remorse’ almost sounds like a good deathcore song with a slick Death Metal tuning, shouted high range vocals providing great contrast. Perhaps the most surprising track is ‘When I’m Gone’, featuring Evanescence singer Amy Lee. Dedicated to late rapper Nipsy Hustle’s memory, but also the idea that people only really pay attention to artists when they die, the track could be a surprise rock radio hit. A study in contrasts and a first for both artists. My favorite song on the album is ‘Critical Beatdown’. Pointed and political in nature, the track is gonna be this albums’ ‘Talk Shit, Get Shot’, but much angrier and political. ‘The Hate is Real’ is solid and flits back and forth between a hardcore groove and a thrash tempo. Great guitar solos on this one, and strong guitar work throughout.

The bonus track on the album is another self-referential cover, a Hip-Hop God-tier classic, ‘6 In Tha Morning’. Officially an unreleased demo, we don’t have enough words to talk about the original’s tectonic shift that it forced on the Rap genre thirty plus years ago. For some context check out the segment on L.A. Gangster Rap on Hip-Hop Evolution on Netflix. The lyrics are as biting and severe as ever and will make you flinch. Like the re-imagining of ‘Colors’, this cut is incredible. I hope these songs get played at every Body Count show going forward.

Backed by his band, a Magnificent Seven version of metal talent, Ice-T and Body Count have turned in another great album. Not only is it the heaviest riff-fest of any BC release, but it also seems to get harder and harder, song for song as the tracks progress. We don’t call out enough albums for track sequencing, but with the originals, covers, and shoutouts, it has that mix-tape style staying power on repeat listens.

8 / 10

KEITH CHACHKES