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Review: Body Count – ‘Bloodlust’

Legend has it that days after the 9/11 attacks, a stranger stopped in a car alongside Bruce Springsteen, rolled down the windows and simply said “We need you now”. Inspired by this, Springsteen would go on and record his first album in seven years, ‘The Rising’. If ever there was a time that Ice-T and Body Count were needed, then it surely is now, in present day America. Countless unarmed black males being shot by police, all captured on camera, riots, racism, class warfare, and of course President Trump… the perfect time for Body Count to make their voices heard, and heard in a way that the Prophets Of Rage failed to be. Hyped to hell, the Rage Against The Machine/Public Enemy/Cypress Hill hybrid was a massive let down. No hype surrounding Body Count.. Net result? An intense, brutal album for “now”, but like Ice-T says on ‘Black Hoodie’, “I’ve been talking about this shit for over twenty years”. So yeah, you can say that ‘Bloodlust’ is an album for “now”, but really, ultimately, it’s an album for “all times”.

If ever an album summed up the current state of affairs in America, it’s ‘Bloodlust’. It’s over the top, it’s violent, and it makes its point with a sledgehammer. For instance, on ‘Black Hoodie’: “I didn’t have a gun so why am I dead? You didn’t have to shoot me and that’s a known fact and now I’m laying face down with bullets in my back”. As the song reaches it’s climax, it breaks into a few “Woop-Woops” from the classic ‘Sound Of Da Police’ by KRS-One, originally released in 1993. It’s incredible to think that decades later, nothing has changed. If you’re a black youth then you are more likely to get shot by a police officer than you are by a terrorist. ‘No Lives Matter’ is a by product of the hashtag wars on social media. ‘Black Lives Matters’ began after the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2013, giving rise to ‘All Live Matters’ and ‘Blue Lives Matters’ by way of response. The song begins with a social commentary from Ice-T about how “it’s unfortunate that we even have to say Black Lives Matter” before finishing with “the issue isn’t about everybody, it’s about black lives at the moment”. Strong words backed up by some powerful riffing from Ernie C and Juan Garcia, but it’s the drum work of Ill Will that impresses the most. The guy hits hard! Ice-T is also on fine form as he spits out one of his best vocal performances in decades. The guitars groove like a bastard, but damn, that drum sound is awesome!

Some of metal’s great and good appear on ‘Bloodlust’. Dave Mustaine offers up a public service announcement during the intro to ‘Civil War’. Think of some of the PA announcements during the opening scenes of ‘Escape From New York’, and you’ll get the picture. Mustaine is on record as saying that his cameo is “by far my fave guest appearance” and whenever he hangs up his guitar, he has a future scaring the shit out of folks! Max Cavalera brings his unmistakable talents to the brutal ‘All Love Is Lost’, as does Randy Blythe on ‘Walk With Me’. The album is perhaps the heaviest album that Body Count have produced, and the guitar work on the latter is especially thrashy in it’s execution. The band pay their thrash respects on the Slayer medley of ‘Raining Blood/ Postmortem’. Taking on Slayer is a ballsy move, and Body Count sound like they are having a blast. But it’s neither of the guest appearances or the cover that provide the highlight of the album (at least for me). That award goes to ‘Ski Mask Way’, a cautionary tale of flaunting your wares on social media, a la Kim Kardashian, and the people out there willing to take them from you. Ice-T takes on the role of the main protagonist as he screams, “I gotta get paid…the Ski Mask Way”. The riffs are massive, especially on the break down, but again it’s drum sound that totally slays.    

It’s a powerful album with a strong message at it’s core (ignore the hype of Prophets Of Rage or Wakrat). ‘Bloodlust’ makes them both look like a convention at your local Uni during freshers week.

Available now through Century Media

Review: Dave Stott

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