Reviews Body Count Carnivore

Body Count

Carnivore

You couldn't keep them on their leash forever, and now that they're back on the streets, it's either ride or die with Ice-T's and Ernie C's hardcore thrash revival, Body Count, and their seventh album, Carnivore. Body Count are well into the second leg of their career, having jump started the group's black heart with 2014's Manslaughter, following an initial hiatus in 1997 and a fumbled reboot in 2006 with Murder 4 Hire. Thirty years in and Body Count sounds more pissed off than what may be healthy for men of their age, but Carnivore is a testament to the power of the human-animal when the full force of their passion and anger is unleashed upon the world. But to really understand what makes this monster tick, you can't be squeamish. You have to be willing to get elbow deep in the sea of guts swimming around its abdomen. So let's cut into the belly of this beast and see what she's made of.

Things kick off with harrowing roar (literally) on opener "Carnivore." A tyrannosaurus sized, stalking, pure predatory-instinct driven track, with thick slapping chords and a nasty toothy groove, that seethes with blood lust as the verses stack like a pile of picked-over bones in a tiger's den. As far as first blows go, it sets the right mood for the rest of the album, a bought of conscious rage and righteous anger that will see the listener going 10 rounds in a cage match with a red-eyed killer who has your Christian name written on an empty Tupperware container back home in his fridge. As rancorous as the title-track is, it barely holds its own against the rolling hardcore tackle of "Bum-Rush," a scrumming, brass-knuckled, people's uppercut to the nation's elites. It hits like a 20 story elevator drop across the forehead, liquefying the vicious grifter's face all over the collar of his tailor-made blazer.

The Body Count wrecking crew aren't alone in their campaign to ruin the day of the deserving. They called in a few riends to help them rearrange some perfectly good faces. Power Trip's Riley Gale lends his muscle unspooling and bowler loosening Cro-Mag-num bluster to the car-flipping ACAB riot "Point the Finger," which comes in like a firehouse to wipe the smirk off Officer Friendly's jowly gob. Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta guests on the simmering bravado boil "Another Level," giving the chorus just enough of an extra push to it get over the songs thorny marsh of Slayer-escque riffs. Probably the most unexpected of these collaborations can be found in the soaring reach of Evanescence's Amy Lee's melodic uplift on the chorus of knee-buckling post-hardcore of "When I'm Gone," a tribute to the late MC and activist Nipsey Hu$$le, who was gunned down in LA in early 2019. Lee's contributions really help tie the whole affair together, and I couldn't imagine the song reaching the same heights without her ethereal cry putting wind beneath its wings.

There are moments on Carnivore that step back from the black-and-blue body breaking hardcore to allow Ice-T's personality to take the reins and steer the whole affair right up to his driveway so that he can show off what a consummate bad-ass he is in the luxury of his own home. The thrash-clap reworking of "Colors" reminds us that T can still spit as well as shout, and the beat-down thunder of "No Remorse" shines a light on T's ability to completely peel apart the targets of his ire with some of hardest "f-you" wordplay I've heard this side of a Geto Boys single. Probably the easiest divergence on the album to overlook comes right at the beginning when T stops the record cold to introduce a blow-for-blow cover of Motorhead's "Ace of Spades." This is absolutely the type of thing that Finn Mckenty of the Punk Rock MBA would rightfully label "cringe," but hey, it works. It totally works. Body Count is an outlet for its members to bare all of their hard feelings towards the world, and they're not interested in burying the lede or hiding their influences. I'm sure more "discerning" critics might turn their nose at displays of affection like this, but I frankly love it and find it refreshing and relatable.

On Carnivore, Body Count has racked up another confirmed kill. It's an incredibly mean and uncompromising album, raised on an all-protein diet to give it that extra iron-blooded edge to its prowling excess. There is no fat on the bones of this pitch-black panther. The limits of its instinctual blood lust are only to be reckoned with by those with a death wish. It will savage you into submission, wear you down and swallow you whole. You can probably find more nuanced metal records at this point in 2020, but I defy you to find one that will savage your body with as little remorse.

7.7 / 10Mick R.
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7.7 / 10

7.7 / 10

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