Artist: Body Count
Title: Bloodlust
Genre: Rap Metal
Release Date: March 31, 2017
Length: 41 min.
Label: Century/Sony
Producer: Will Putney
Personnel: Ice-T (lead vocals), Ernie C (lead guitar, backing vocals), Juan of the Dead (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Vincent Price (bass guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals), Ill Will (drums), Sean E Sean (backing vocals), Little Ice (backing vocals)
Special Appearances: Dave Mustaine (spoken word, lead guitar on “Civil War”), Max Cavalera (vocals on “All Love Is Lost”), Randy Blythe (vocals on “Walk With Me”)

Body Count’s newest album – maybe the best album they’ve ever made, and their sixth release since their 1992 debut – reminds me of Slayer’s 1990 thrashterpiece, Seasons in the Abyss, in its unfiltered examination of our society’s dark underbelly. Ice-T’s lyrics look deeper than racism, crime, and violence, trying to find the deeper issues, primarily the human condition. Ice sees it as all inherent, in our nature, inherently evil. “This s*** is deeper than racism,” he tells us in “No Lives Matter,” and it’s “ugly to the core.”

Bloodlust begins with my favorite song, “Civil War.” I’ve said it before, Ice-T is like Dave Mustaine in many ways. So it isn’t surprising that Mustaine himself makes a guest appearance on “Civil War.” The track begins with some cool words by Mustaine that could have come from any Megadeth album, especially United Abominations. The tune is thrashy, too, and features a mean, nasty Mustaine guitar solo, awesomely reminiscent of Dave’s fast and grimy work on No Life ‘Til Leather or Killing Is My Business.

The other two guests on the album – Max Cavalera of Sepultura, Soulfly, and Cavalera Conspiracy, and Randy Blythe of Lamb of God – are both used excellently. “All Love is Lost” could definitely be a song from any of Cavalera’s projects, and “Walk with Me” seems rather Lamb of God-like.

“Here I Go Again” echoes Ice’s love for horror films, and it also reminded me of Slayer’s “Dead Skin Mask,” from Seasons. The ending of the track brings this horror song into the rest of the thematic fold of the album.

The Slayer cover, “Raining In Blood / Postmortem 2017,” is cool but should have been relegated to a deluxe edition. Not that it’s bad. They do Slayer as much justice as they can and make it clear this is a respectful tribute to a band that helped shape their own sound. It’s just that they just can’t beat the killer combo Slayer had back in the day with Araya, King, Hanneman, and Lombardo. And, yes, it does show.

As for the tracks I haven’t yet mentioned, “The Ski Mask Way” and “This Is Why We Ride” are violent but provide a bit of thoughtful commentary, the first with some humor, the second with none. “God Please Believe Me” feels dispensably transitional, though it does bring an urgent plea to many of the themes presented on the rest of the record. “Bloodlust” and “Black Hoodie” cap the album off. Unfortunately, they’re a couple of the weakest songs on the album, though they do bring some interest with them.

Honestly, this is really the first Body Count album to ever truly grab me. I know Body Count has some good stuff from their previous five albums, but I like Bloodlust better. Not that the album is perfect. Beyond what I’ve already noted, throughout the album, Ice-T speaking parts are often awkward and unnecessary, on top of the fact that many of the lyrics are in no way subtle. I guess that comes with the territory. (This is metal after all, as much as I love it.) Also, I don’t think the songs are arranged properly. Most of the tracks should have been included, maybe all of them, but in a different order. The order they’re in currently creates a bit of an uneven flow.

Several albums in 2017 have surprised me with how much I enjoyed them, and Bloodlust is one of those surprises, despite a few issues. It excellently brings together rap, thrash, and groove metal like Body Count has been doing for years, but in a fashion that is often superior to their past material.

On the Slayer cover, Ice says that when he started Body Count, he “used . . . the impending doom of a group like Black Sabbath . . . the punk sensibility of somebody like Suicidal . . . and the speed and the precision of Slayer . . . to set the tone.” If you’re a fan of rap and/or metal, you’ve probably heard of Body Count. If you haven’t and all these things intrigue you, you’re going to enjoy Bloodlust.

I’m going to give Body Count’s Bloodlust an 80%.