Body Count have been more transparent than most in the build-up to their eighth album. The rap metal iconoclasts first announced in June 2021 that writing on Merciless was already underway. Then they confirmed in February 2022 that they had entered the studio. Now, frontman Ice-T tells Metal Hammer that the band are “about halfway through” recording their new music with longtime producer Will Putney, and hope to have it out by the summer.
“We’re nine songs in, and we’re gonna put 15 on the album,” he says. “It hasn’t been the easiest album to record, simply because we’re coming off the heels of [2020’s] Carnivore. It was a great, award-winning record and we never got to perform it. Playing songs on the road is usually what inspires your next album, so we came into this kinda cold, from a dead space.”
Nonetheless, Ice says that Merciless will continue the trajectory that Body Count have enjoyed since 2014 comeback album Manslaughter. He promises the songs will once again be personal and pissed off, but hit harder and sound better than before. It’s a bold MO considering Carnivore single Bum-Rush earned them a 2021 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.
“I think we are staying in the same direction. Manslaughter was a reintroduction to Body Count, not to just our old fans, but to a whole new group,” says Ice. “[2017’s] Bloodlust was even better than Manslaughter, and Carnivore was better than Bloodlust. We’re going to stay in the same vein, sound and production, but make better and better records.”
Merciless may also continue the Body Count tradition of using guest stars. Since Manslaughter, they’ve collaborated with such metal royalty as Jamey Jasta, Amy Lee, Max Cavalera and Randy Blythe.
“Dave Mustaine has got at us already,” Ice reveals. “He wants to write a song. Dave worked with us on Bloodlust – he did Civil War. But usually what we do with a Body Count album is make it first by ourselves, then call in people.”
The band are hoping to finish their work in the studio by February 2023. After Merciless comes out, the top priority will be playing shows in the US, since Body Count haven’t toured the country since their slot on 2014’s Mayhem Festival. A European run should follow in 2024. In the meantime, the Ice-man and his bandmates will be keeping themselves busy.
“We’re doing a compilation and we’re working on some new Ice-T music,” Ice adds. “We are so excited to get back out there.”