Published Mar 05, 2020Body Count have really hit their stride over their past few albums — 2014's Manslaughter, 2017's Bloodlust and now Carnivore. Instead of feeling like a convenient excuse for Ice-T to front a metal band with his friends, they've learned how to write catchy crossover thrash with a few tricks up their sleeves. The band are on their seventh album now, and while they've figured out how to achieve great production and a better sense of songwriting, there are still some clear cut gimmicks going on that are hard to ignore.
The band kick things off with a hardcore beatdown in the ultra-aggressive title track, but things quickly move into strange territory. They offer up a monologue from Ice-T about paying homage to a legendary metal band with a cover track on each Body Count record (Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized" on Manslaughter and Slayer's "Raining Blood" on Bloodlust) before kicking into their take on Motörhead's "Ace of Spades." These cover songs are definitely fun to listen to a small handful of times, but they'd be much better served as bonus tracks instead of coming so early, making it feel like there wasn't enough original material to keep the listener's attention.
The collaborations across Carnivore really stand out, but similar to the issue with using cover songs, they feel a bit heavy-handed. Power Trip's Riley Gale absolutely crushes his back-and-forth with Ice-T on the crossover thrash banger "Point the Finger" while Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta's vocals are the highlight of "Another Level." They also get Evanescence's Amy Lee on "When I'm Gone" — an ode to Nipsey Hussle, who was tragically murdered while they were recording the album — and that doesn't even start to scratch the long list of collaborators.
They cite everyone from Fit for an Autopsy's Will Putney, Jello Biafra, ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and about half-a-dozen other guest musicians as providing vocals or instruments across the album. Guest collaborations are always fun, but when over half of the album seems focused on who, outside of the band, is on a track, it starts feeling like Body Count aren't the main focus on their own album.
Carnivore also features two re-recorded songs from Ice-T's solo career as a rapper. Sure, any old school hip-hop fan who also loves metal will be ecstatic the first time they hear "Colors - 2020" and "6 In Tha Morning - 2020" with a heavy groove replacing sampled beats, but it's one more gimmick tossed into a record lacking in originality.
This is all to say that whether you love Ice-T for his rap career, acting career or just for his time in Body Count, Carnivore will be worth checking out, but likely won't be revisited. There's some really great songwriting on the album and a handful of tracks worth adding to your daily rotation, but it viciously grabs your attention without being able to hold onto it for very long. (Century Media)