Murder 4 Hire
Disappointing fourth round effort lacks spark
Controversy can sometimes extend the longevity of a substandard act well past their used by date, and a prime example is Los Angeles based outfit Body Count. Led by gangster rapper Ice-T, Body Count immediately courted attention with their self-titled debut album (Released in 1992), due to its inclusion of the song Cop Killer. Controversy aside, the album was an interesting experiment, but hardly a groundbreaking release in the critical/musical sense, giving the impression that Body Count were nothing more than a novelty act at best. The release of their sophomore effort Born Dead in 1994 was an even bigger disappointment with the band seemingly lacking in any new ideas, while their third release Violent Demise: The Last Days from 1997 only showed a little more growth and maturity (Which earned the band some respected press), but soon sank without a trace, only to resurface in the cut out bins soon after.
In the nine years since, Ice-T has focussed on his acting career with considerable success (With a regular appearance on Law And Order: Special Victims Unit), with Body Count seemingly being laid to rest permanently. But to everyone's surprise (Especially given that rhythm guitarist D-Roc, bassist Mooseman and drummer Beatmaster V have all since passed away), Ice-T (Vocalist/producer/song writer) and Ernie C (Guitarist/co-producer/song writer) have resurrected the group with new members in rhythm guitarist Bendrix, bassist Vince Price and drummer O.T., and resurfaced with their new album Murder 4 Hire.
So just how much has changed within Body Count after a complete line-up change and nine years away? Not much it would seem, as Murder 4 Hire is Body Count through and through, which means that the inconsistency and almost embarrassing elements of the past still remain, with only a smattering of good ideas heard amongst the dozen new tracks. In typical Ice-T fashion, Invincible Gangsta has the front man rapping a statement of intent over a generic metallic backing track (Along with guest vocalist Trigger The Gambler), but it's the incredibly thin demo like production sound that really stifles any heavy impact the band could ever hope to convey on their return.
Faring a little better is the darker sounding and politically motivated The End Game, the catchy You Don't Know Me (Pain) and the thrashier The Passion Of Christ, but the production really does let the songs down big time. The stalker based In My Head, the title track Murder 4 Hire, the plodding Lies and the truly cringe worthy Relationships (Which is also the first promotional video filmed from the album) are all full of cliché lyrics and poorly developed song ideas, while the southern influenced Down In The Bayou and the terrorist based Dirty Bombs show that a little more thought on the writing side of things can go a long way, even if they aren't anything remotely original or cutting edge.
Body Count isn't about to change the face of metal with their comeback album, nor change people's original perception of the group all those years ago. Murder 4 Hire lacks controversy, good production, innovative ideas and message, which in truth are the same problems that plagued their last couple of efforts. The album is strictly for the few Body Count fans remaining.
(Escapi Music/Riot! Distributors)