Review: Body Count’s Bloodlust Offers the Most Fun You Can Have Without Actually Overthrowing the 1%
Who says you can’t have a blast being politically outraged?
There are two ways to listen to Bloodlust, Body Count’s latest work of social science not-quite-fiction: as what is sure to be one the most lyrically relevant metal albums of the Trump Era, and/or as a NWOAHM-style hookfest. In both regards, the album is a success.
Let’s talk about the music first. Body Count haven’t released an album this satisfying from start to finish since their eponymous debut twenty-five years ago. Three of the NWOAHM’s heaviest hitters make guest appearances and/or songwriting contributions (Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe, Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta, and God Forbid’s Doc Coyle), and Bloodlust, unsurprisingly, has all the hallmarks of a great NWOAHM album: pissed-off-yet-polished production that sounds Godzilla-huge (courtesy of the great Will Putney), songs that are aggressive but still inviting, and riffs, choruses, and breakdowns that aren’t hooks so much as they’re magnets. Bloodlust is one of those albums where if you press “stop” at any point during any song, the last few bars you heard will echo maddeningly in your ears for the foreseeable future.
Lyrically, well… to paraphrase Ice-T’s spoken word intros for two separate songs, it’s unfortunate that he’s been talking about this shit for more than twenty years (it’s actually more like thirty if you count his rap albums). It’s even more unfortunate that those lyrics happen to be more pertinent now than ever before: racism, police brutality, class warfare, scapegoatism… if you’re looking for escapism, look elsewhere. Even the album’s most fantastical songs aren’t all that fantastical: it’s safe to assume that Ice-T hasn’t had to put on a ski mask and robbed anyone in decades, but the idea of violent crime fueled by economic necessity (reasons “we might come and visit” you include a “new car,” “big jewels,” and “nice furs”) is not at all far-fetched.
Yet even this dark subject matter offers the occasional opportunity for subversive humor; for example, the first voice you hear on the album is not that of Ice-T, but, rather, that of the notoriously conservative Dave Mustaine… playing the role of Big Brother over a PA system:
“The President of the United States has declared marital law. Curfew is now in place. Return to your homes. Any congregating of two or more people outside of your home will result in immediate arrest on sight.”
Maybe Body Count didn’t intend for portray Mustaine as exactly the right-wing oppressor everyone thinks he is (he also contributes a guitar solo), but it’s hard to imagine that so many people heard the album when it was being made and no one made the connection. Regardless, all the political topicality lends the album an extra edge, making Bloodlust‘s rage feel all the more righteous.
If Bloodlust has a shortcoming, it’s only that it doesn’t necessarily reward repeat listens; it’s a joyously uncomplicated album, and what you hear is what you get. But what you get is so damned good, why risk getting shot by talking shit?
Body Count’s Bloodlust comes out Friday, March 31 on Century Media. Pre-order it here.