I first came across Body Count in 1992, when their self-titled debut was released. This was a big moment in heavy metal music because popular rapper Ice-T was the front man for BC. Rap metal wasn’t that widespread and having Ice motherfucking T at the helm created a bit of a novelty. This wasn’t a one-off track, this was a full-fledged band. While bands with entirely black lineups were already out there (Bad Brains, Living Colour, et cetera) none of them could be classified as heavy metal. Body Count broke the mold and securely placed themselves in the metal scene.
Their first single was There Goes the Neighborhood which tells the story of an all-black band trying to break into a music scene that was, and still is, predominantly white. This is a rocking fucking tune with some of the best damn riffage I have ever heard. The video was in regular rotation on MTV and my friends and I loved it. This was followed by anti-drug song The Winner Loses. The last track on Body Count was Cop Killer, a controversial track that Ice-T chose to replace with Freedom of Speech because he felt that the hype of that one song over-shadowed the rest of the album.
In 1994 Body Count released Born Dead, the proof we needed to show that this would be an ongoing thing, not just a flash-in-the-pan side project. After this they released two more albums before temporarily disbanding in 2006. In 2009 they reformed and in 2014 they came screaming back onto the scene with Manslaughter. This was their most politically and socially conscious release to date. Don’t think they slacked on the music just to make a point, rather they released a fantastic and hostile album that also happened to highlight many of our society’s ills. In 2017 they released Bloodlust, yet another fine example of rap metal and also very politically and socially aware. Body Count has managed to consistently release amazing albums throughout their career and with this year’s Carnivore that streak is ongoing.
Beginning with the title track, Carnivore possesses all of the anger and all of the explosive talent of this heavy metal juggernaut. Continuing the tradition of including one cover on each album, BC added a fun version of Motorhead’s Ace of Spades in tribute to the late, lamented Lemmy Kilmister. There’s also a reworked version of Ice-T’s 1988 track Colors, a song still as poignant today as it was when it was originally written and released. Add to this the anthemic Another Level and full-on hate track Thee Critical Beatdown… ah fuck it, all of the songs on Carnivore are amazing, heavy, and continue the legacy of this ground-breaking band. The riffage is, as always, impressive. (Long live Ernie C!) The addition of well-chosen guest vocalists Riley Gale, Amy Lee, and Jamey Jasta (who also appeared on Pop Bubble, a track off Manslaughter) rounds out these ten tracks. Album closer The Hate is Real is the perfect capper, spewing enough venom to kill the population of an entire continent. I have yet to hear a disappointing Body Count album and I doubt I ever will. If you have ever enjoyed the music of Body Count you’re going to love Carnivore, guaranteed. Jim Dodge