Body Count – Manslaughter (2014)

Body Count’s Manslaughter was released on June 10, 2014 and marks the fifth album installment by the South Central Los Angeles-based heavy metal ensemble around frontman Ice T.

The album

Manslaughter kicks off with a very typical Body Count track, Talk Shit, Get Shot. Not only the name of the song is in line with the band’s lyrical history, also the more groove-oriented feel and guitar riff bring back good memories of earlier pieces such as Body Count’s In The House or Born Dead.

Pray For Death continues in the same raw and brachial mood but picks up the pace. What gets my attention is the punctual intrusion of more punk-sounding guitar melodies. I don’t remember them being a big part of Body Count’s sound. But here, they fit perfectly, and I’m happy they included them. Now I want more of those guitar sounds.

Track 3 is a metal (self-)cover of a classic Ice T song, 99 Problems BC. What can I say about this track? I think it sounds better than ever, and I can imagine it’s because it is Body Count playing it.

Back To Rehab reminds me right away of Suicidal Tendencies. By that I don’t mean that this is a rip-off of ST, but it just radiates that raw California rock spirit and groove. The song is characterised by a spoken line in the middle of the song stating, ‘We sing this song, because we want y’all to live. And don’t waste your live, man.’ Great message.

The title-song, Manslaughter, honours its name and starts more brutal than I’ve ever heard Body Count before. I can’t help but remembering the song Cop Killer while listening this this track. The entire context is similar – which is a good thing – and the band improved on every side, musically, lyrically, and production-wise.

The title to Get A Job alludes to be a motivational track, but as soon as Ice T kicks in, it becomes obvious that it might not be your new No Woman, No Cry-Everything will be alright song. But definitely a fun hardcore-moshpit song, nonetheless.

Institutionalized 2014 is a friggin’ awesome cover of a legendary Suicidal Tendencies song from the 80s. Listen for yourself, hardcore punk at its best!

After a few more hardcore punk tracks, Pop Bubble brings back groove-metal riffs and arrangements. Refreshing at this point. Still, the energy is pumping at 200 miles an hour. And the chorus is one of the strongest ones up to this point. Great song!

Enter The Dark Side opens with a cut-time drum beat and a distorted bass riff that introduce a heavier danceable second part of the song, until it meets its double-time end. It somehow reminds me of the song Born Dead, which – again – is a good thing.

Bitch In The Pit starts with double-time beat and heavy riff, just where the previous song ended. Back to brachial hardcore punk with glimpses of groove-metal and melodic choruses. Very smart arrangements in this one.

Track 11, Black Voodoo Sex, tells a different kind of love story. The music underlines the story perfectly. One of my favourite Body Count songs by now. Not that it is an anthem-like piece. But there’s something about it that makes it just great. Don’t want to spoil it for you, therefore, listen to the song attentively and enjoy it as much as I do…

Wanna Be A Gangster keeps the Body Count (sound) flag high with uptempo and a 8th-note guitar riff and is typically raw and energetic.

I Will Always Love You, starts with Ice T dedicating the song to the men and women how have lost their lives while fighting for their country. A rather depressing though deep ballad. And hearing Ice T actually singing the chorus is very refreshing. Great song to end the album.

…well, not entirely. The last song of the album is a rock mix of 99 Problems BC. Even better than the original mix.

IMHO

Body Count’s fifth album, Manslaughter, sounds heavier and stronger than I ever expected. Not that the previous albums weren’t heavy. Maybe it’s the production. Somehow the band sounds better than ever – which is understandable given that they have been around as a band for almost 30 years.

I just saw Body Count live and Ice T stated that Manslaughter is about the pussyfication of manhood, and he didn’t mean gay men, he meant dudes becoming soft and not being real men anymore. I have to say, that the album captures that idea very well with its lyrics and atmosphere. Manslaughter is my favourite album in that regard. Basically all songs have their legitimacy to be on the album, musicianship is at its all-time high, the lyrics are… well… simply Ice T-phenomenal, and the concept is very entertaining.

If you like old-school Body Count stuff, this album will not disappoint you. And go see them live. It was one hell of a show!

Album grade:
Lyrics 9/10
Musicianship 9/10
Production 9/10
Concept 9/10
Total grade 9/10

Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer