Sound — 7
Rap metal may always have to suffer being derisively remembered by its apex in the late '90s, where gimmicky acts like Limp Bizkit, Crazy Town, and Kid Rock were the most popular banner-wavers of the subgenre, but its pioneers intended the fusion genre to have a more significant connotation: a melding of the heavy instrumental sound with the sociopolitical lyrical matter of rap music. Those trailblazers have been getting back in the saddle as of recently. With Rage Against the Machine and Public Enemy coming together last year to form the supergroup Prophets of Rage, Ice-T's rap metal project Body Count was revamped to better avail than that attempted a decade ago. Compared to the admittedly lackluster output of 2006's "Murder 4 Hire," Body Count appealed back to the music that initially inspired them with 2014's "Manslaughter," touting strong influence of hardcore/thrash metal music (from covering Suicidal Tendencies' big hit "Institutionalized," to getting Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta to contribute harsh vocals on a song) that Ice-T and lead guitarist Ernie C have always had an affinity for.
With "Manslaughter" being the band's love letter to hardcore/thrash as their way of getting back into shape, Body Count's sixth album, "Bloodlust," is more focused on the politically-conscious lyric side of things. Because of that, the album's instrumental output is relatively simpler, whether it's the nu metal palm-muted riffing in "The Ski Mask Way," "No Lives Matter," and "All Love Is Lost" (which features Soulfly's Max Cavalera), or the easy melodic progressions in the uplifting "This Is Why We Ride," the forlorn interlude of "God, Please Believe Me," and the horror-tinged "Here I Go Again."
Even still, Body Count retain some of their thrash metal bite from before. Aside from doing another cover of a thrash classic (this time being Slayer's "Raining In Blood / Postmortem"), Ernie C goes from throwing down more frenetic riffs in the hardcore bounce of "Black Hoodie" and the stampeding "Walk With Me..." (which gets harsh vocal support from Lamb of God's Randy Blythe), to ripping melodious guitar solos in the melodeathy eponymous song, and harmonizing with Dave Mustaine in the nu metal/thrash hybrid of "Civil War."
Lyrics — 9
Given how one of Body Count's first and most infamous songs, 1992's "Cop Killer," was inspired by the historic display of police brutality Rodney King suffered by the LAPD, it's no surprise that Ice-T has plenty more to write about in "Bloodlust," given the streak of police brutality cases that have gone public in recent years. Pulling no punches with addressing this new climate of societal tension in "Civil War" ("Cops are killing people / And never do time / In the hood we're killing each other / Like it ain't no crime"), Ice-T refers to recent cases of extrajudicial killings by police, whether specifically sampling the news report of Keith Lamont Scott's death in "No Lives Matter," or being more general with the "just another statistic" narrative in "Black Hoodie" ("'Had on a black hoodie', that's all it took / D.A. portrayed him as a dirty fucking street crook / They let the cops off, nobody fucking marched / Nobody had a clue, this never made the news"). Ice-T also addresses the pressure-cooker environment of hoods that many point to as justification for police's excessive use of force, and along with depicting the vicious cycle of despair in "This Is Why We Ride" ("They remove hope, and then we sell dope / Pain and poverty has us at each other's throats"), Ice-T recognizes the lingering pain he still has from growing up in the hoods of Los Angeles in "God, Please Believe Me" ("I see my boys that have died sitting with me again / And when I wake, I realize that I lost most of my friends").
Overall Impression — 7
Training the spotlight on the injustices of today, the lyrical matter in "Bloodlust" makes it arguably the most inspired Body Count album since their debut album. And though it may not be as instrumentally adept as the output made in the previous "Manslaughter," Body Count's metal energy still kicks into high gear when necessary, and the album's guest repertoire of metal heavyweights certainly helps in that department even more.