Many reviewers here suggest that RATM’s first album was their best, but I disagree. In my opinion, the first album suffered from predictable riffs (actually a common problem with this band – they rely way too much on basic blues-scale riffs) and excessively trite, junior-high-civics level lyrics. YES, it was performed by first-rate musicians whose passion and energy rivaled that of any band on the planet! But at the end of the day… their debut was still not that inovative, aside from Tom Morello’s guitar sound.
But with Evil Empire, Rage took a daring new approach: cut back (almost eliminate) any conventional guitar solo, and slow the groove a bit. The result is a collection of songs that have a much more unique sound. There is nothing on the debut that is as distinctive-sounding as “Wind Below”; “People of The Sun” and “Bulls On Parade” find Morello unleashing ever-more-insane guitar sounds, which perfectly suit the songs; and “Down Rodeo” features Zack at his most self-righteous, but he doesn’t cross over into the kind of empty cliche-mongering that marred the debut.
Overall, this is the most unusual of Rage’s three proper “albums.” (Renegades should be considered apart from the three self-composed releases) They took the most chances, musically, and for this I consider it their finest hour.