When Body Count returned in 2014 with Manslaughter, it was, according to Ice-T, “just a way of seeing if anybody still gave a fuck about Body Count.” They did. Body Count emerged as one of the most popular festival draws over the next year, but the feverish enthusiasm for Ice T’s notorious metal/hardcore project had less to do with the strength of Manslaughter than with a dewy-eyed resurgence of 90s nostalgia. Thankfully, Bloodlust is anything but Manslaughter II. Compositionally, the new material erupts with sharp, ultra-heavy riffs that transcend its predecessor’s generic, metal-by-numbers approach. Instead, Bloodlust showcases ambitious song structures, punishing hardcore tempos and wild, inventive solos as on opener Civil War – which features Dave Mustaine – and the pummelling title track.
Lyrically, Ice-T delivers his most scathing, profane and incisive condemnations since 1992’s Cop Killer, best heard on highlights Black Hoodie and No Lives Matter, which opens with a powerful spoken-word takedown of the All Lives Matter response to the Black Lives Matter movement. An utterly steroidal production, a blistering cover of Raining Blood and guest turns from Randy Blythe and Max Cavalera are simply icing on the cake. At times Bloodlust relies a bit too heavily on ultra-graphic crime fetishisation, as on Here I Go Again. But written in the bitter months leading up to the US Presidential election, this is a serious and thoroughly engrossing collection of violent, provocative protest music sure to inspire debate and to blow out a few speakers along the way.