It’ll eat you alive
Imagine starting your career commentating on the racial inequality in society. From economic and civil injustice to police brutality—having an entertainment career rooted in the adversity of prejudice could seem to be exhausting. That’s the life Ice-T’s been living as a rapper and as the frontman of his thrash metal band Body Count. In both of his musical endeavors, he’s found inspiration in the unfair treatment of Black people, but Body Count’s newest album tries to show some love to those who have fallen as well. Yet since the world hasn’t changed, their themes haven’t changed, but their new record Carnivore offers more in a lot in regard to current relevancy.
Leave it up to Ice-T and his Body Count right-hand man Eddie C to evoke whatever particular gusto and spirit out of a song that they want. The title track opens the record, fixed with some type of monster screams in the chorus to delineate the predating nature behind the title itself. Outside of that witty inclusion “Carnivore” doesn’t offer too much else, which ends up being fine thanks to the strength of its successor “Point the Finger.” Featuring Riley Gale of Power Trip, it could easily become a circle pit classic, offering some of punkiest drumbeats on the record.
What’s nice about Ice-T is the flavor (no pun intended) he adds to everything he approaches. Less than 10 minutes in and we’re greeted by a spoken interlude of sorts, which is more of an explanatory introduction delivered in that smooth and forever cool tone of Ice-T’s natural voice so many are familiar with. He begins by explaining how they like to “pay homage” on each record to those who have influenced, before going into a spirited dedication to Lemmy Kilmister via a cover of Möterhead’s “Ace of Spades.” It’s not the only cover-type song on the album, as they also do renditions of two of Ice’s solo tracks—“Colors” and “6 in Tha Morning.” Each sound just as good as thrash songs, only elevated by the frantic vigor that comes along with thrash music.
There’s also more than one feature on Carnivore. Other than Gale, the track “Another Level” features Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta. Musically, it chugs along with a weighty tempo and a nice midpoint guitar solo. Vocally, however, the chorus offers a gruff harmony that seems disparate to what surrounds it. It’s entirely opposite of “When I’m Gone,” which features Amy Lee from Evanescence. Her range is used impeccably on this tribute to rapper Nipsey Hussle—it’s angelic yet melodically haunting, and her overall vibe as a person ruminates on his passing in a different yet necessary way.
Still, Carnivore’s highest point is “The Hate is Real.” It’s the perfect nexus of Ice-T as a rapper, political and societal critic, of Body Count as a band continually paving through history, and of the unfortunate place society as a whole still seems to find itself in. It starts with the audio sample “The words echo America’s long and painful history of telling citizens of color they do not belong here,” before a distant combo of spaced pounding and riffing offer a backdrop to audio samples of similar subject and sad truth. Then, alternating moments of anxious pacing and cooled, reflective bits balance out behind the main hook—“The love is fake, but the hate is real.” If there’s any single indicator of how poignant and accurate Body Count are in this modern age (2017’s Bloodlust offered something similar) it’s this album, but especially this track.