REVIEW: BODY COUNT – “Carnivore”
Despite having been active for three decades, most will still do a double take upon hearing that rapper Ice-T not only enjoys hard rock and heavy metal, but also fronts his own band of the same style. Body Count came as a surprise addition to the 1991 Lollapalooza line-up during Ice-T’s rap set and went on to conjure some heated controversy with their song “Cop Killer”. Now, in 2020, Body Count are back with their latest instalment of hardcore metal entitled ‘Carnivore’. Seven studio albums deep, Body Count remain as angry, articulate and confronting as ever.
Old-school fans will find fond familiarity in the heavy riffing and guttural vocals on numbers such as “The Hate is Real”, “Bum Rush” and the merciless title track “Carnivore”, which arguably delivers Body Count at their most heavy. And if this teased sniff of fond nostalgia somehow manages to fall short, some of the efforts made on ‘Carnivore’ certainly earn their plaudits. Long time followers of Ice-T will no doubt remember the rappers 1988 hit single “Colors”, a rap song now reimagined in Body Count fashion. Love it or hate it, you cannot deny its contagious effect. That, and it’s almost impossible not to love it.
‘Carnivore’ works to create a space populated by unique, memorable moments throughout its ten-song track list. If some songs echo the bands earlier works while others reflect complete reinventions, Body Count don’t stop there. “When I’m Gone” featuring guest vocals from Amy Lee of Evanescence portrays another side of Body Count. Still heavy in essence, “When I’m Gone” deals with love, loss and what we leave unsaid until it’s too late. This brave and vulnerable piece is easily a standout on ‘Carnivore’ both musically and thematically, excelling in both arenas. Unfortunately, the bands nod to Motorhead through their own distinct cover of “Ace of Spades” doesn’t quite match up. If there is no doubt that these descendants take the Lemmy fronted classic and perform an impressive, technically proficient ode to one of the greats, somehow this rendition oozes a sense of Dad rock when performed by Body Count, and not the good kind. This cover, while rich in sentiment, would better fit Jerry Cantrell’s (Alice in Chains) satirical YouTube episodic ‘Dad Band’ than it would ‘Carnivore’. But whether or not this cover works, the respect it carries is beyond reproach.
After thirty years, Body Count are still chewing up injustice in the world around them, spitting it back out with tenacity. Reflecting on subject matter across the spectrum from politics, personal loss and inspiration, with a personalised narrative sprinkled throughout, ‘Carnivore’ may just usher in a new era of Body Count. An era that warrants getting excited about.