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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Body Count

Murder 4 Hire

Review by Gary Hill

There are those who credit Ice-T with pioneering the gangsta rap movement. Frankly, I don't know enough about that genre to comment either way on this part of its history. That's not to say that I don't like rap - I do. It's just that I haven't followed all the comings and goings in enough detail to offer a meaningful commentary other than repeating what I've heard elsewhere. What I can say is that Body Count did start the rap metal movement. All this time later, they are still are the kings of the genre. The truth, in my opinion, of the style of music is that there are some really solid practitioners, but the majority of the music in that genre is garbage. Well, Body Count have always been the best of the group in my book. Because of that, and because of the important of Ice-T's contribution to modern music this one is a disc that should be given a chance. Frankly, I have always thought Ice-T is cool, anyway. I appreciate his attitude and enjoy his music and acting. I just plain like him. So, for me this disc was very much an anticipated one. Because of a lot of problems with the band (most recently the death of guitarist D-Roc to cancer) it's been ten years since the band have produced a studio album. Is this worth the wait? Yes! I consider this an excellent album. It's got a few songs that aren't as strong as the rest, but nothing that I would consider a throwaway. It's all quite solid. For those who want to hear what rap metal can be in the hands of the right people this is highly recommended. I'd recommend it to any hard rock fan with a sense of adventure, too. Hip hop fans should also appreciate it. I guess the one group I'd definitely tell to stay clear is anyone offended by swearing. Of course, I wouldn't imagine they listen to much rap or rap metal anyway.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Invincible Gangsta
This one is a bouncing, bounding ultra heavy smoker that makes for a great rap metal kick off to the disc.
The End Game
I like this one even better than the last one. It's pretty thoroughly rooted in hip hop, but the band lay down enough metal to keep it real from that line of reasoning. This is another that's quite heavy. The lyrics to this one are pretty scary - and I mean in regards to their interpretation of current world affairs. I hope they are wrong, but they're pretty convincing. There's some tasty guitar soloing on this one.
You Don't Know Me (Pain)
The groove that starts this one is pretty seriously Black Sabbath in texture, and in fact, this whole grind has that groove, but with Ice T rapping over the top. His rhymes on this one are more effective than those on the last couple tracks, and that's about the strength here rather than any weakness there. There's a cool break later where the band play it like a machine gun. I'd have to say that this is one of my favorites on the disc.
The Passion Of Christ
From one great piece of music we move straight to another. This one has a more stripped down punky rock texture, but the fast paced rap on this and the frantic drumming makes me think of Suicidal Tendencies a bit. They drop this one back to a psychotically textured, rather goth feeling guitar solo segment that is a pretty awesome change of pace. This eventually fades out to end the cut - another that makes my favorites list.
In My Head
Noisy sounds start this, but then it turns into a Metallic grind that has a dark doom metal sound to it. The lyrics are about a stalker - told from his point of view. While the dark creepy tone of this one reminds me a bit of Brutal Planet era Alice Cooper, it's all Body Count. There are some more Black Sabbath-like textures at times on this one, too. It also has a frantic segment that's quite cool. This is another standout.
D Rocs (RIP)
This starts with a pretty straight old school rap sound, but reverts to a smoking metallic jam afterwards. The guitar soloing on this one scorches, but it's pretty much an instrumental in that the vocals are just a loop of Ice-T. It's a dedication to the memory of former Body Count member D-Roc (who died from lymphoma a few years ago).
Murder 4 Hire
This starts with a garagey sort of jam with Ice-T just quoting the title with some echoes. It runs through in this manner for a while as an introduction, then powers out to a punky fast paced jam for the real rap. The intro returns later as a bridge. I wouldn't say this is one of my favorites here, but it's also no slouch.
Down in the Bayou
A combination of Black Sabbath with a grinding blues jam makes up the musical mode here. They even include a couple harmonica solos in this track that pays "tribute" to the "wisdom" of a certain type of backwoods people.
Dirty Bombs
An aggressive punky texture brings this one in. This has a definite mosh feel to it. The cut has a lot of concepts of how terror is created in our society these days. It's a cool one, but not a standout.
Lies
This pounds in hard and heavy. I'm not overly crazy about this one, but it's not bad.
Relationships
More of that Cooper Brutal Planet sort of texture shows up on this one. This one is a bit more like it, but again not one of the highlights of the disc. The argument between Ice-T and his "lady" is a nice touch, though, as is the chorus. They crank this out into a super fast jam later that is also a bonus.
Mr. C's Theme
This one starts with almost a nu-metal alternative rock ballad mode. As the track moves forward it still has that sort of texture. There are even some hints of progressive metal here. It turns to more traditional Body Count pounding later, though. This doesn't last long, though. Instead it ends abruptly and a quick burst of acoustic guitar that feels a bit like Rush comes in. After this they move back out to earlier melodic rock jam. When the Body Count plodding returns it stays around a bit longer. This instrumental is without question the most dynamic and complex piece on the album. While it's not the most typical piece of music here it makes for a strong closer.
 
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