Body Count - Bloodlust (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Body Count

Bloodlust (2017)

Century media

A notorious rapper and his high school friend caught lightning in a bottle with Body Count’s self-titled debut album back in 1992. It was the right message at the right time delivered by the right bunch of guys. It was black guys from the ghetto playing heavy metal music for white suburban kids. Hip hop culture had already infiltrated pop music, but it had rarely reared its ugly, militant head in the rock and roll realm. Ice-T and guitarist Ernie C managed to scare the shit out of people. It was controversial enough that their label eventually pulled the song “Cop Killer” from later pressings. It became an important battle in the war against censorship. Most of us who were into aggressive music at the time still have a special place in our hearts for that flawed, but ultimately compelling record.

A lot of things have changed over the last 25 years. That notorious rapper has gone on to become a pretty famous actor. (Playing a police officer!) The whole “Cop Killer”/”Fuck tha Police” message has largely gone mainstream. 9-11 and the 24 hour news cycle have made us all a little more numb. White America is not nearly as easy to scare and shock as they once were. I couldn’t help but wonder where Body Count fits in in 2017. Bloodlust is Body Count’s 6th LP, and the first one I’ve taken a serious listen to since Body Count. My first impression was that it sounds much better than that first record, and is leaps and bounds more advanced musically. It avoids that record’s often crushingly mindless repetition. So the music sounds fresher, even if the message is starting to show its age.

That’s not to say the message isn’t still vital, it just seems harder to take from a rich, successful guy. How does Ice -T still pull off ranting and raving about the problems in the hood? Well, he starts by recruiting some of his rich white friends to help. Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) appears on the Megadeth-esque opening track “Civil War”. Max Cavalera (Soulfly, Sepultura) adds screams to the brutal “All Love Is Lost”. Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) lends a hand on “Walk With Me”. All three are pretty decent. Body Count has long named Slayer as a major influence, and here they successfully rework a couple of their classic songs with “Raining in Blood/Postmortem 2017”.

“The Ski Mask Way” and “This Is Why We Ride” are a solid one-two punch toward the beginning of the record. In contrast, “Here I Go Again” and “Bloodlust” are two weak tracks toward the end. The most topical songs might be the best. “No Lives Matter” obviously addresses the Black Lives Matter movement. It successfully argues that poverty and powerlessness unite us more than race divides us. “Black Hoodie” doesn’t reference Trayvon Martin, but it might as well have. It’s about the obvious fact that no should die for the way they dress. Policy brutality is a running theme for Body Count, and Bloodlust is punctuated with the sounds of sirens and gunfire.

I was living with my parents when Body Count came out. Now I live with my children. In both cases I had to hide to listen to my new Body Count album. In other ways, times have definitely changed. “The N word” and “the B word” now sound much harsher to my ears. In BC’s defense, Bloodlust is much less misogynistic than Body Count. The constant use of fuck and motherfucker makes the word lose all its power. It doesn’t shock or offend me, but it doesn’t impress me either. It comes across as more juvenile than edgy. (Holy shit. Have I become my fucking father?) Bloodlust has no chance at being nearly as important or influential as Body Count, and it will probably never have a special place in my heart. That being said, it’s a solid listen in its own right.