The Lowdown: Ice-T may be best known for his rap career and his longtime role on Law & Order: SVU, but much recognition is due when it comes to what he and his crew have done with Body Count. Over the course of nearly three decades, Body Count have crafted a ballistic blend of crossover thrash alongside sociopolitical commentary.
On their seventh studio LP, Carnivore, Body Count play to wild flourishes of thrash and hardcore, weaving in enticing vocal flows that spit with rage. Accompanied by an array of guest vocalists and interesting remixes, Carnivore keeps the majority of its runtime bloody and vicious.
The Good: Throughout his career, whether fronting Body Count or as a solo rapper, Ice-T has always delivered thought-provoking and hard-hitting lyricism. On Carnivore, his vocals play to the instrumentation, inflecting with each striking riff and battering of drums. The vibrant single “Bum-Rush” features such lines as, “It’s all twisted, the game is bent / Still no clean water in Flint,” offering a taste of the sociopolitical direction of the album. Thematically, Carnivore explores the viciousness of modern day society; whether it is observing the cruelty of others, or exploring topics like police brutality, Ice’s lyrics pack plenty of punch to capture the attention of listeners.
As far as those aforementioned guest appearances, the album features Power Trip’s Riley Gale, Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta and Evanescence’s Amy Lee (who makes an awesome addition to the compelling “When I’m Gone”). Among the tracks on the LP are three fascinating re-imaginings of classic songs. One is a cover of Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades”, and the other two are reworkings of standout songs from Ice-T’s solo rap career (“6 in the Morning” and his iconic “Colors”). The metal renditions of these old-school rap cuts prove to be exhilarating, breathing new life into them.
Carnivore is also a treat instrumentally, offering rushes of thrash metal and rampant pummeling hardcore. Bassist Vincent Price brings a nice weight to many of the cuts, while drummer Ill Will and guitarists Ernie C and Juan of the Dead are front and center throughout the album.
The Bad: Overall, Carnivore is a rock-solid LP, but it’s not without its speed bumps. “Another Level” is a generic hype track, offering little substance compared to the rest of the album. And “No Remorse” is the odd cut of Carnivore, feeling out of place among the record’s gripping lyrical content.
The Verdict: From the reimagined rap cuts to the adrenaline-pumping instrumentation to the lyrical themes, Carnivore stands as a prime example of Body Count’s many strong qualities. While the record doesn’t reinvent the wheel in any major ways, it offers an exciting array of musicianship that’ll keep listeners hyped. Body Count’s drive towards facing real world issues, along with their intriguing fusion of musical styles, allows them to be a band for fans of both the old and new school.
Essential Tracks: “Bum-Rush”, “Point the Finger”, & “When I’m Gone”