This week I’m grabbing one of my favorite albums from recent memory. It’s now 4 years old and it’s a record that shifted the band’s profile and also highlighted significant political issues within modern America. One song in particular from this album would get re-released as a single after massive racial tensions engulfed the country in 2020.
And yes, this post will discuss politics. It’s not always my bag and not where I want to go with my blog but it’s unavoidable when discussing this album. Deal with it, I guess.
Body Count – Bloodlust
Released March 31, 2017 via Century Media Records
My Favorite Tracks – No Lives Matter, Civil War, Here I Go Again
Body Count arrived on the scene in the early ’90’s in mega controversial fashion, as Ice T’s metal band found themselves with a banned song in the form of Cop Killer. The band would go on for years to earn a legit reputation for banging music and consistent gigging. The group went on a long hiatus before returning in the mid 2010’s with a refined focus on Manslaughter.
Bloodlust arrived in early 2017, just after a bitter political battle in 2016’s U.S. Presidential elections. Tensions were at an all-time high after the most vile and cancerous arguments presented in public forums I’ve ever seen, and this Body Count record would explore many of the issues in a manner fitting of the savage climate of the time.
I’m going track-by-track this week, as this record deserves the specific attention.
The album begins with a mock emergency announcement, one real-sounding enough to scare people who might be within earshot. (It’s happened to me more than once). Dave Mustaine narrates an official government announcement of martial law before the song starts.
Civil War is just like it sounds – a brutal exploration of things breaking bad in America. When this album came out things were looking pretty grim here. It might seem calmer in 2021 than then but there’s still a lot of contempt and resentment for any different perspective today, so I don’t know if the threat has really dissipated.
Mustaine lends an excellent guitar solo to the track and the band slams through dystopian violence gone horribly wrong. It’s a great song but also extra unsettling due to the very real possibility that something could kick off.
The Ski Mask Way
This song sees Ice T and company explore the topic of high-profile robbery. Today’s influencer culture has people flashing their goods more than ever before and this leads to a dark subculture of those people being targeted by thieves. These aren’t the two-bit thieves who make off with your rusted Huffy bicycle at 2:00 AM, these are the pros who will do anything to get what they want.
This Is Why We Ride
One of Bloodlust‘s feature tracks discusses the real issues behind ghetto violence in America. People might complain that Ice T is rich and doesn’t have a voice in the matter, but I’d wager he knows more about the issue than some white guy filming a YouTube video in the huge truck he’s balls deep in debt on.
The song is excellent, a real standout on the record. It pairs a great guitar hook with an actual depiction of the issues truly behind street violence, stuff far deeper than most average people would ever care to explore or discuss. It’s essential listening on a record packed with great tracks and on a topic lighting fires across the country.
All Love Is Lost
This dark, heavy song of betrayal and mistrust features legendary Sepultura and Soulfly mainman Max Cavalera. Max screams along in his distinct growl to a brutal, militant pummeling as Ice T laments the loss of bonds between someone once trusted.
The accompanying music video stands out for this song. Ice T’s Law And Order SVU co-star Kelli Giddish has a go at revenge against her philandering husband. In Body Count world, revenge has an ugly finish.
A pair of covers come next. Ice T gives a brief spoken intro where he discusses the reasons for forming Body Count and the main influences behind the music. One of those is obviously Slayer, and Body Count covers two songs from the seminal Reign In Blood. It’s an interesting take on the songs, fits the record well, and also goes to showcase Slayer’s influence on the rest of the album.
God, Please Believe Me
A brief interlude offers a lament/prayer. It’s a fitting piece that helps pause the action a bit.
Walk With Me
This song kicks straight in with guest vocals from Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe. There always seems to be a lot of walking involved with Lamb Of God, I guess this is a muthafuckin’ invitation to hike. I don’t know.
Anyway this is another nice cut. Randy and Ice T collaborate well to another savage metal offering. This is another exploration of murder and psychosis, something Ice T has done quite a bit over the years.
Here I Go Again
This track continues the murder “ballad” exploration. This song was apparently a leftover track from Ice T’s 1996 solo album Return Of The Real. I don’t have an official citation for that but it sounds nice so let’s roll with it.
This is one sick, twisted tale of a killer on the prowl. It’s a fantastic cut and builds to a great climax where the killer attacks himself without realizing it. It’s not just a hollow, gory tale – this is some excellent storytelling set to a nice, groovy pace. It’s easily one of my favorites from the record.
No Lives Matter
The Black Lives Matter movement entered discourse in the latter part of the last decade. It started an extremely heated and divisive argument with counter-protest shouts of All Lives Matter. And on the edges, disaffected and nihilistic edgelords made memes proclaiming the inevitable No Lives Matter. Won’t lie, I shared a few of those myself.
Body Count takes the “No Lives Matter” phrase and re-purposes it for real discussion of the issues. After a spoken intro shredding apart the “All Lives Matter” response, Body Count delivers one of the most important and light-of-truth shining songs in recent memory.
No Lives Matter breaks the issues down to what it really is – divisions and hatred that distract from the true center of power and control, and the actual bottom line of it all – money. People look around and look down to find targets for their rage instead of looking up at the true source of society’s misery.
This song would find renewed prominence in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd sparked a renewed wave of protests in the midst of the pandemic and a bitter presidential election. The truth is the truth, and sadly it will probably rear its ugly head again.
The album’s title track is pretty simply stated – humans like to kill. It’s a vicious, hellbent track that pounds home the twisted desire to maim and slaughter. It’s kind of hard to tell how much of it is Ice T’s fantasy musings about murder and how much is a very real examination of the ills of humankind.
The album’s closer goes again into the issues of race in America, this time shining light on police killings of black people. As Ice T says in the intro – he’s been talking about this shit for over 20 years. It isn’t a new issue, but in today’s information-saturated climate, it’s an issue that gets a lot more play than it did way back when.
Honestly, I’ll just let the song speak for itself. The issues discussed are so raw and so viciously debated that I really can’t add much to it. All I’ll say is that it feels like I live in a sick, brutal society that places no real value on human life.
Clearly Bloodlust is loaded with red hot social/political discourse and also its namesake bloodlust. The two tend to go hand-in-hand, after all. The record struck a nerve with me right away, elevating Body Count from “curiosity side project” status to one of metal’s most interesting and hard-hitting bands. I would go so far as to call Bloodlust my favorite album of the 2010’s, but there is some competition in that regard I wouldn’t hear until the decade was over.
Either way Bloodlust remains a seminal moment in music from recent memory. Everything the album discusses is still sadly in play, it’s not anything I see changing anytime soon. It’s impossible to remove the social commentary from the record, but outside of it exists a fantastic, slamming metal album. The album’s musical guests, metal legends all, add true weight to their songs and are far beyond just cursory appearances. It’s a record that is a total pleasure to listen to, even in the face of some very harsh issues facing civilization today.