‘Carnivore’- Body Count
Ice-T’s thrash metal band, once a great one-off joke that thrilled a Lollapalooza audience in the ’90s, quickly turned into a reliable metal outfit that has now endured for almost 30 years, and they’re back again. The follow up to 2017’s ‘Bloodlust’ (one of the albums that made my fuckin’ year that year) follows much the same route as its predecessor. The album opens with the title track; Ice-T identifies himself as the subject at the center of the song, seemingly giving a drive-by flip off to all of the reasons he shouldn’t be here today. But he is. And thank God for that, because who else tells truth to the issue of police brutality like he does again on this album on the following track, ‘Point the Finger’? “The fuckin’ badge is the biggest gang we’ve ever had”, word. And the band means it, too. The metal chops this album boasts are quite impressive. From a technical standpoint, BC has become a much more musically accomplished band over the years (take that for what it’s worth).
But unlike its predecessor, this album begins to weigh down on its second half. After a cover of Motörhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’, which is fair enough, even if it’s a bit of a moot point, the album starts to reveal the fact that it’s top heavy. The 2020 update of Ice’s solo hip hop single “Colors” is representative of this. Not because it’s bad, on the contrary, but because it exposes many of the holes in this album’s foundation, namely, the fact that there’s less focus and direction here than on ‘Bloodlust’. And for God’s sake, Ice, the next time you decide to write a sentimental track like ‘When I’m Gone’, choose anyone but Amy Lee to guest on it with you. But your intentions are pure in the gesture, and you earn points for that. Thankfully, the album does close out on a highlight, ‘The Hate is Real’. “Love ain’t always fake but I don’t trust it/Hate will have you killed and won’t discuss it”. Ice has been around the block more than his share of times and he’s had his head on the whole time.
It turns out that the fact the band decided to take this album on the same route as ‘Bloodlust’ hurt it in the long run. Not because that’s a bad route to go. But because ‘Bloodlust’ was so damn close to perfection that it was unlikely to ever be outdone. You won’t find anything on this album that comes close to eclipsing the righteous onslaught of ‘No Lives Matter’ or ‘Black Hoodie’. Nevertheless, the first half of this album is so good that it encourages forgiveness for some of the second half’s shortcomings. Body Count’s in the house, muthafucka. And even though this album is nowhere near as strong as its predecessor, it still has a few solid standout tracks that reveal why they’re a band that has gone on to tread the terrain much longer than they were initially supposed to.
‘I am Not a Dog on a Chain’- Morrissey
The king of all things melancholy in alternative rock is back with his latest collection of sap songs to capitalize on the media attention he’s received from several offhanded comments he’s made in the last couple of years. His previous album, 2017’s ‘Low in High School’, was very successful at reaching for the heights of Morrissey’s powers. When he’s at his best, his lyricism is tough not to have an emotional stake in; both for those of us who like him, and those who can’t stand him. But this album only has small pieces of what makes up the best of Morrissey. The opening track, ‘Jim Jim Falls’, is one of these pieces. “At Jim Jim Falls I fooled and fell/If I were you I’d stick to my own canoe” isn’t exactly the strongest lyric he’s ever penned, but it’s his voice, much like a fine wine that gets better with age, that carries it through in spite of itself.
The only other standout track on this album is ‘Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?’, which features former Motown artist Thelma Houston. “Aren’t you tired of pretending?/I know you’re tortured down below” is a lyric that hearkens back to the days of the Smiths and the voice is just marvelous once again. But the issue I have with this album is the way that Morrissey has approached slinging his usual venomous tongue. His deliberateness in aiming specifically at the criticism thrown at him tends to come off as vindictive at the expense of being completely clear. It saddens me to conclude this, seeing as I’ve stood by Morrissey throughout most of his media missteps of late, and I’d like to believe that he’s capable of making art through a clearer lens than this.
When he’s at this best, Morrissey’s wit is aimed at criticizing our societal ailments that need it most; most notably Thatcherism in the ’80s. And he was once the idolized anti-rock star rock star trope that has now been written about more than the Beatles. But sadly, this album has little of that. The title track, for instance, is a total bore. And all of the tracks that follow meet the same fate. Making an album purely out of spite definitely isn’t something that has rewarded Morrissey on this album. And as a fan, it disappoints me that he’s taken a trip down this path. I still believe in him as a person; I think his intentions are pure, despite all of the evidence that suggests they’re not. And it isn’t at all that he doesn’t still have great albums in him, because he proved that he does just three short years ago. But he’s going to have to find a way to pull himself together, because his top-notch vocal performances can’t carry him through on their own. Even though they do knock up this album’s grade a bit on their own.