“Humans are animals, pretty much in denial of just how savage we can be,” declares Body Count singer Ice-T. “The songs on Carnivore play out that theme in different ways. It’s not about a diet; it’s about being bloodthirsty creatures.” Carnivore is the pioneering metal band’s seventh album since forming in 1992 and skyrocketing to infamy thanks to the “Cop Killer” song controversy. Carnivore is also the most melodically hardcore and lyrically articulate BC album to date. It serves up eight originals, including the poignant “When I’m Gone,” featuring Grammy-winning guest vocalist Amy Lee of Evanescence, along with the call-to-arms of the edgy, rapid-fire “Bum-Rush,” and the primal roar of the title track/first single. Prestigious musical guests--friends and fans excited to work with BC--include Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta and Riley Gale of Power Trip. Additionally, “Colors 2020” and “6 In Tha Morning,” two iconic Ice-T rap cuts, get re-done, metal style, with Slayer’s Dave Lombardo guesting on drums. Body Count pays homage to Motorhead with “Ace of Spades,” while political punk provocateur Jello Biafra makes a cameo, further cementing Carnivore’s 11-song collection as an album for the ages.
Longtime BC bassist and musical director Vincent Price observes that Carnivore is the culmination of Body Count’s ever-increasing power, starting with 2014’s Manslaughter into 2017’s Bloodlust, with Carnivore completing the unholy trinity. Produced by Will Putney from the band Fit for an Autopsy, BC are proud they’ve upped their game: “We’re satisfying ourselves first before we satisfy others,” Price says. “Back when we were rehearsing a tour for Manslaughter, Ice said to me, ‘How are we gonna top this album?’ I’m like, ‘Well, Ice, don’t worry. We got it.’ I look at myself as ‘the fan’ too, and this is our best yet.”
In “Bum-Rush,” one of the key lyrics is “we’re woke,” and Ice-T lays it bare in the lyrics. “A lot of times, people can’t see through the bullshit,” he says. “My job as an artist is to kind of break down the confusion that the media and the press and government try to put in our way to keep us separated. On this album, just like in ‘No Lives Matter,’ [from Bloodlust] one of my main focuses is that unity is power, and that most of us have the same issues, same enemies and the same problems.”
“Bum-Rush,” the follow-up single to “Carnivore” is a metaphor for likeminded people joining to create power and change. And with today’s world changing so quickly, one of Carnivore’s songs has now taken on two meanings. “When I’m Gone,” where Ice-T is joined by BC fan and platinum-selling Evanescence singer Lee, was inspired by the murder of L.A.-born activist, entrepreneur and rapper Nipsey Hussle, says Ice. “It's a wake-up call, saying that we have to take advantage of our friendships while our friends are still around. And now, with the loss of Kobe Bryant…” Ice adds: “’When I’m Gone’ is another song that kinda transcends metal, and having a woman sing on it—the first time we've ever done that—is just the growth of Body Count.”
While Ice-T has spent two decades portraying NYPD Detective/Sergeant Odafin Tutuola on NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Body Count is never far from his mind: he brings music in progress to the set, playing it for the crew and cast. Hearing Carnivore, his TV family got an earful: musically, the band has raised the bar. Price explains that he and guitarist Juan Garcia are mutual fans and longtime friends, and “I always try to have both Juan and Ernie C. play solos. I think it’s more interesting. On ‘The Hate is Real,’ there’s a part where they trade off on solos and then do a harmony at the end, which was another first for Body Count.”
There’s no stone left unturned in Carnivore’s creation, and that includes cover art by renowned Polish artist Zbigniew Bielak. His ultra-detailed, visceral line drawing of venomous-looking gang-banger ramps things up to another level. As Ice explained: “We made the ‘Carnivore’ video just by animating the album cover, which is so intricate. It’s probably the best piece of art I've ever had, and I've had some great work on my album covers. I think this is a masterpiece.”
Equally cool are the re-imaginings of 1988’s “Colors” (the title track to the film of the same name) and 1987’s “6 In That Morning” from Ice-T’s legendary hip-hop/rap classic Rhyme Pays. Turns out a lot of Body Count’s fans also dug Ice-T’s raps. “But Body Count is a live metal band, so it's not like I could throw on a backing track for ‘Colors’ and do it,” explains Ice. BC had fun cutting the songs metal-style, and of the Body Count tour, Ice says: “if the set provides the time, we can give fans an old-school Ice-T cut.”
Indeed, over the years, Body Count has played prestigious festivals, including Wacken Open Air, Ozzfest/Knotfest, and the Vans Warped Tour 15th Anniversary show in LA, where they shared the stage with Katy Perry, NOFX, Pennywise and Bad Religion. Plus, they’ve opened for friends and influences Guns N’ Roses, Slayer and Metallica, with TV appearances including the Tonight Show and Late Late Show. BC’s 2020 schedule in support of Carnivore will be no less intense. As Ice-T concludes, “we’re always looking to make it better. The worst thing is to put on an album and have someone say ‘the last one was better.’ No way will that happen with Carnivore.”