Back in 1992 when Body Count released their debut, co-founding member Ice-T was already an established rap artist, so the move into heavy and hardcore music was somewhat of a radical move, which raised almost as many eyebrows as did “Cop Killer”, the closing track off the album.
Band’s social and political premises have always been highly prioritized throughout their career, but with incising media focus on political and social climates as well as the means of communicating about inequality, racism, and corruption in the mainstream and political circles in USA, make Body Count’s themes even more relevant anno 2020.
Back in the 90’s main force behinds band music was rebellious and raging power, but these days musical sophistication is just as big part of Body Count’s sound, with especially Ernie C’s guitar work coming across as very strong, creative and with outstanding sense for composing and arranging pure power.
The album opens with what is a perfect example of just that and equally perfect example of Body Count at their best. Title-track opens the album in a manner that is as brutal as it’s grim, atmospheric and uncomfortably intense. This might just be one of the most interesting songs of Body Count’s career. Somewhat unconventional album opener is followed by straight forward, high-octane “Point the Finger”, which continues band’s long-standing tradition of featuring prolific guest appearances, this time in form of Riley Gale of Power Trip. “Bum-Rush” which follows is nothing short of perfection. And it is hard to follow such a start and the fact is that the band never manages to match the level on the rest of the album.
The main issue with Carnivore, however, lies in its oscillations in quality, which make the overall listening experience uneven.
The execution and performance are as eminent as expected with additional punch to the production comparing to the previous album Bloodlust. But several of songs lack the more identity and overall song-writing level. The cover of Motörhead’s “Ace Of Spades” regardless of how noble and relevant it might be, just comes across as unnecessary and basically a space filler. There is a long tradition of Body Count recording cover songs as tributes to their inspirations (Suicidal Tendencies, Slayer, Jimi Hendrix…), but truth be told those cover versions never bring much new and would work far better as live-only features because for the most they do come across as simple tributes rather than unique creative takes on these classics. Even cover of Ice-T’s own “Colors” lacks imagination and edge.
Lyrically, Ice-T is as angry and direct as ever, but over the course of last couple of albums he has also explored a more positive side, usually in form of call for unity and unity for purpose of change. The case is the same, with above mentioned “Bum-Rush” whose angry theme ends up in almost Lennon-like call for unity.
On “When I’m Gone” he takes his sensibility and vulnerability to new levels. The song features guest appearance from Amy Lee of Evanescence and musically it introduces a somewhat new and softer side of the band and while experimenting as well as noble message of the song are applaudable, it comes across as a P.O.D. / Evanescence mash-up and it lacks more of band’s DNA.
The regular edition of the album closes with blistering hard-core anthem “The Hate Is Real”, which wraps up the album in a proper matter.
Generally, this is another concrete release from Body Count with moments of pure fucking glory, but unfortunately also with several moments of mediocrity, which dilute the general flow and experience of the album.