Century Media Records/Sony Music Australia
Reviewed By Simon Milburn
There are always "those" bands that come along at the right point in time and change the musical landscape forever. Bands like The Doors, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Metallica, Death, and many, many others. But sometimes, a band comes along with such in-your-face power that doesn’t just come from the music but also the lyrics as well. In 1992, Body Count was that band. Fronted by rapper Ice-T, the metal band shook the very foundations of the metal world with their debut self titled album. I don’t need to go into the history and the controversy surrounding that legendary debut. But what made the album so strong in the first instance was the brilliant balance of songs that tackled serious issues and those that were just a shitload of fun to listen to.
Over the course of their next few albums, Body Count enjoyed varying degrees of success as they released their more serious sophomore effort Born Dead and their third album, Violent Demise, which saw the group attempt to recapture the essence of their debut but to significantly less success. Of course, then there was Murder 4 Hire which, well, things are best left unsaid about. The band enjoyed a triumphant return to form with their excellent 2014 long player Manslaughter spearheaded by the killer lead single, “Talk Shit, Get Shot”. For the most part, it recaptured that spark that made Body Count such a great debut album two and a half decades ago.
But since that album, shit’s got real. Trump is now President of the U.S.A.. Global terrorism is still prevalent and the bloody war against it still being waged. There have been more controversial killings in U.S.A. making worldwide news that truly surpass the Rodney King incident on so many levels. But Ice-T and high school friend and BC guitarist Ernie C are back for round two with the band’s current line-up which consists of guitarist Juan of the Dead, bassist Vincent Price and drummer Ill Will, and quite simply put, Bloodlust is the album Body Count had to make for 2017.
The magic that made their debut so potent 25 years ago has been recaptured with the band’s current line-up. It’s almost as if they bottled that shit up way back when and kept it on the back burner until the time was absolutely right to drop truth bombs in an attempt to wake the world up and get people to realise just what the hell is going on. When you combine that spark with the bands more mature song writing which is clearly evident on Bloodlust, the end result is absolutely savage. I thought it interesting that Body Count opted to bring in not just one guest but three on the band’s sixth album. Dave Mustaine (Megadeth, on “Civil War”), Max Cavalera (Soufly, on “All Love Is Lost”) and Randy Blythe (Lamb of God, on “Walk With Me…”) all guest on different songs and each is exceptionally well suited musically to the respective guest’s vocal style. Mustaine also lends his fretwork to “Civil War” and it’s seamless and comes off a treat. All three guest appearances effortlessly fit within the album’s vibe. They are not out of place at all. Last time around, Body Count delivered an updated version of the killer Suicidal Tendencies cut “Institutionalized”. This time, Ice, Ernie and Co. chose to deliver a medley cover of Slayer’s Raining Blood and Postmortem. They just about pull it off. Well, musically they do. Vocally, Ice’s laid back delivery works well, although the couple of incorrect lyrics do manage to sound odd every time I hear them. Maybe it was intentional to see if people are really paying attention to Body Count? I don’t know.
What I do know is that Body Count is as relevant now as ever before. In fact, Body Count is possibly even more relevant now than ever before. It’s a new world order, shit’s still fucked up, and Body Count is back doing what they always do - telling it like it is. I’m not sure if Bloodlust will stir up the same controversy the band experience a quarter of a century ago, but I do know that Bloodlust is the band’s most venomous record to date. The riffs are infectious, the song writing is the band’s most mature to date, and the lyrics are the perfect blend of in-your-face reality and sarcastic humour. Bloodlust takes no prisoners and is absolutely fucking ruthless from start to finish.