Back in 2014, Body Count emerged from eight years in the shadows with all guns blazing in the form of Manslaughter; one of the year’s best metal albums, not to mention one of the year’s biggest surprises. It was a bludgeoning yet precise aural assault that deftly mixed mosh-ready riffage with lyrics that were by turns over-the-top violent, darkly humorous and delightfully un-PC.
Fortunately for fans, Ice-T, Ernie C and their cohorts decided not to wait another eight years to reload. Fast-forward to 2017 and the band is back with Bloodlust, a darker, more serious expression that serves as a musical sub machine gun, leveled point blank at the face of Donald Trump’s America and blasting away at all the bullshit that goes with it.
Indeed, Body Count have only gotten heavier, nastier and meaner in the intervening years, emptying clip after clip full of armor-piercing sonic bullets on Bloodlust. The songwriting is still as infectious as it was on Manslaughter, but tracks like “No Lives Matter” “Black Hoodie” and “Civil War” are infused with a real-life sense of gravitas that is lacking not just from most of today’s metal, but most of today’s music in general. In a time when most musicians are either too uninformed, too shallow or too chickenshit to take a stand on the issues that affect our everyday lives, Body Count aren’t afraid to tackle racism, police brutality, corrupt politicians and the deep ideological divide that threatens to tear our nation apart at the seams.
Will Putney once again serves as producer/engineer/mixer for Bloodlust, and just like with Manslaughter, he makes Body Count sound like a million bucks. In fact, this is probably the best production the band has ever had; crystal clear and in-your-face, yet still retaining the streetwise grit of their earlier albums. The stellar sound quality is matched by equally stellar performances, with Ice-T sounding as vicious as ever while Ernie C lays down riffs that are a damn near perfect combination of Black Sabbath and Slayer, bolstered by an ace backing band that includes members of Steel Prophet and Agent Steel.
Bloodlust clocks in at forty-one minutes, but it’s so damn well-crafted that it flies by in what feels like half that time, prompting repeat listens so Body Count can lay waste to your eardrums all over again. It’s the very definition of the old “all killer, no filler” cliche and just might be the best thing they’ve ever done; a timely musical attack on the American dream turned nightmare that will resonate through the rest of the year and beyond.