While I had always been aware of Body Count, especially their controversial 1992 single "Cop Killer", I had never truly sat and listened to an entire album. I can randomly remember taking a drive with my buddy John, and he suggested I throw on some tracks off the 2014 album, Manslaughter. I was immediately hooked by the heavy riffs and groove oriented breakdowns that served as a backdrop to Ice T's intense lyrical content, his delivery as intense as the instrumentals. So needless to say, I was pumped to hear a new album was on the way in 2017. Bloodlust expands upon the sound the band had introduced in 2014 and turns the hardcore influence WAY up.

Album opener "Civil War" begins with emergency sirens and a public service announcement regarding the President initiating martial law, courtesy of Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine. A steady mid-paced groove builds in the background before frontman Ice-T comes in to bark the opening lines:

It's already started, maybe too late to stop
It's already on, they shooting the cops
They pushing the line, racism is high
The country's divided, you know the fuck why
The press of the pull, and push of the truth
The public is dumb, delusional youth
Our leaders are evil, lie after lie
The public is armed, and ready to die

The song continues before increasing in tempo for a circle pit inducing bridge that Mustaine rips a solo over top of. The final moments take the tempo back down for a couple more headbangs, before fading into one of my favorite tracks on the album.

"The Ski Mask Way" is the total package, and a perfect representation of the refined Body Count sound I mentioned in this review's opening. A thrashy main riff gives way to a groove heavy, chugging verse riff, before a simple chorus that's easy to pick up on and scream at an upcoming show or by yourself in your car (guilty):

I gotta get paid, I gotta get paid, I gotta get paid
The ski mask way

The riff that follows the second chorus could easily win a gold medal in the Pit Olympics, if it ever actually existed. It transforms into a solid two step riff that could get even the most jaded hardcore kid moving, followed by a bridge section that features the sounds of Ice-T threatening bank employees to empty a safe. I'll spare typing the mosh call that precedes the breakdown, as I'm a 28 year old white man that has no business typing it, but I assure you the breakdown hits HARD.

"All Love Is Lost" is another groove heavy banger that features vocals from Max Cavalera of Sepultura and Soulfly fame. His growl adds intensity to the choruses and contrasts well against Ice-T's aggressive delivery. Another great moment on Bloodlust is the homage to Ice-T's favorite group Slayer with a ripping cover of "Raining Blood/Postmortem". Will Putney's production gives the track's galloping chug riff the modern brutality that I've longed for.

"Walk With Me" features Lamb Of God vocalist Randy Blythe, whose intense vocals always command the listeners attention. Some intense blast beats are featured on the track, as well as an insanely acrobatic solo courtesy of guitarist Ernie C. The first released single on the album, "No Lives Matter", is definitely one of the catchiest tracks on the album, as well as the most important lyrically. Following the theme of senseless police brutality, Ice-T delivers a spoken word intro before the band launches into a staccato down tuned riff that will get your head banging. Instrumentally, the chorus riff is extremely catchy, as I've found myself humming it often.

Don't fall for the bait and switch
Racism is real, but not it
They fuck whoever can't fight back
But now we gotta change all that
The people have had enough
Right now, it's them against us
This shit is ugly to the core
When it comes to the poor
No lives matter

Title track "Bloodlust" is one of the more consistently brutal tracks, featuring a straightforward breakdown in the main riff that is accentuated by heavy hitting drums and a piercing china cymbal courtesy of drummer Ill Will. The album ends with "Black Hoodie", another lyrically important track related to the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin. Ice-T barks in the tracks opening:

All these people out here tripping off police brutality like this shit is something new
Give me a fucking break
I've been talking about this shit for over 20 years
And now you can kill a motherfucker just because of how he's dressed
Are you fucking serious?

Bassist Vincent Price has time to shine on the track during the stop/start riffs in the verse, although Price's low end can be felt on Bloodlust's entirety. Overall, the album is a fun 40 minute listen that you will definitely get the itch to go back to again and again. While Ice-T remains a killer frontman with catchy and meaningful lyrics, the groove and mosh inducing instrumentals are enough to suck the listener in. Bloodlust is out now via Century Media. Listen to "The Ski Mask Way" below: