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Rage Against the Machine

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Digipak reissue of 1992 album. 2001.Not since the days of the Clash and the MC5 has rock seen such political force as in the uncompromising debut from this L.A. quartet. Expanding the hip-hop/metal style of bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage tap the spirits of vintage Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, coupled with hardcore punk intensity and Public Enemy-style grooves. ”Bombtrack” opens the LP with a shot of adrenaline and singer Zack de la Rocha’s infuriated chorus of ”Burn, burn, yes, you’re gonna burn!” The intensity doesn’t let up an inch on the militant ”Killing in the Name” (with the inspiring chant, ”Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!”), the ultrafunky ”Bullet in the Head,” and the engrossing ”Fistful of Steel.” Tom Morello combines time-honored metal guitar riffs with sounds that suggest a hip-hop scratcher over a rhythm section that simply takes no prisoners. Intelligent and aggressive, this is unimpeachably one of the best hard-rock records ever made. –James Rotondi

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  • Rage’s self-titled debut is one of the most signifigant metal albums at the 90’s beacause of it’s crossover potential. Metal bands like Faith No More had rap elements in their music but this album is the final mixture of rap and heavy metal. But that is not the only reason why this album is bloody great. Tom Morellos unique guitar-playing and Zack De La Rochas angry punk-influenced rapping is the thing that makes Rage sound so fantastic. Band’s sense of dynamics is also amazing, thanks to Brad Wilk and Timmy C. This record swings and rocks and sometimes blows up to my face letting me wanting to hear and see this band live.

    Posted on December 3, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Wow. I bought this album having only heard the song ‘Wake Up’ from the Matrix soundtrack. However, I have read fantastic reviews about it and I liked some of Rage’s recent work so i decided to give this one a try. As soon as the main guitar solo started on “bombtrack” I knew this was one of the best albums ever. The distinguishing feature of this band is there fiercely political diatribes that they direct toward basically every governmental establishment and/or descision. Admittantly, they often get carried away and Zack de la Rocha’s anger and poignant lyrics can shadow his message, but rage has created an excellent way in delivering a political message to the uncorrupted, innocent mind of teenagers. Zack de la Rocha’s lyrics are sometimes exaggerated, his ideas can often be ridiculous, but his lyrics are far, far more provocative than any other band out there. Enough about the lyrics, the musical quality of rage against the machine is far superior to any other band ever. Rage has a loud, slow style that envelops the listener, and even the most conservative right-winger can still find themselves bobbing their heads to rage’s amazing instrumentals. Even if you hate Rage against the machine, there is absolutely no discrepency that rage’s guitarist, Tom Morello (a harvard graduate) is the most innovative, creative, and original guitarist ever. As a child, instead of being inspired by hendrix or van halen, he used such influences as fax machines and electronic devices to create the widest array of guitar sounds imagineable. Here is a description of each track:Track 1 Bombtrack, Rating: 10/10What an excellent way to start this album. This is also the shortest song on the cd at 4:01. The intro guitar is awesome and the chorus of “Burn, burn yes your gonna burn!” is stellar as well. This song checks in as the third best song on the album.Track 2 Killing in the Name, Rating: 10/10Even better than track 1, Killing… starts out kinda slow but gets good real fast once it hits the main theme. It remains a good song until the last minute or so when it blasts through the roof with rage’s most rousing chorus to date “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” This is the second best track on the album.Track 3 Take the Power Back, Rating: 8/10Starts out pretty good and stays good throughout the first few minutes. This track earns a 8 because of de la rocha’s message about education towards the end. Also, a good guitar solo and the final chant of “No more lies!” turn this from a good song to a great song.Track 4 Settle for Nothing, Rating: 5/10This song is very heavy, emotionally sappy, and hard to listen to throughout its entirety. However, this song has two bright spots. An excellent guitar solo and a great crescendo with the title chorus.Track 5 Bullet in the Head, Rating: 9/10Fast-paced, action filled song with by far the most catchy first verse you’ll ever here. This song is basically a thrill ride from start to finish. It gradually gets faster and faster until the very final chord.Track 6 Know Your Enemy, Rating: 7/10A great intro but a sub-par chorus fits the description of track 6. By far the most interesting part is when rage has a guest singer sing a verse towards the middle of the piece. A great fininsh with the whispering chant of “All of which are american dreams.”Track 7 Wake Up, Rating: 10/10The intro part of this piece (sounding like led zepplin’s kashmir) far exceeds phenomenal. And even after that it never stops impressing to easily become the best track on the album. This is the second best rage song ever(although it is nowhere nere as good as bulls on parade). You can hear this song on the matrix soundtrack.Track 8 Fistfull of Steel, Rating: 9/10A great chorus is the high point of track 8. The verses are great too. Theres really no bad aspect of this song.Track 9 Township Rebellion, Rating: 8/10Track 9 actually has bad verses. However, the chorus of “Why stand on a silent platform, fight the war, fuck the norm” easily gives song the extra 3 or 4 points it needs to earn an 8 on my rating scale.Track 10 Freedom, Rating 9/10Outstanding intro, okay verses, okay chorus, and outstanding finsih. The real high point in this song is in the last two minutes where track 10 assumes an eerie-sounding chorus of “freedom, yeah right”. For the last word, Zack de la Rocha holds ‘right’ forever while the ending chord is repeated over and over again dramatically until the song spins off into a final sound that sounds as if a phone had been broken.Average rating: 8.5/10This is easily 5 stars even tho its the equivalent of 4.25 out of 5. Hey, not every song is gonna be perfect.Rage against the machine is not a band that you will hear at high-school dances. It is very commanding, heavy, and sharp. It does not make good background music considering its pointed music and lyrics. Rage should be listened to, thought about, and respected for the outstanding music they produce.

    Posted on December 3, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This is, and always will be, considered Rage Against the Machine’s most important work. Rage’s signature sound, featuring Tom Morello’s belligerent, aggressive guitar riffs and turntable-esque noise, Tim Bob’s funky bass, and Zack de la Rocha’s vitriolic raps, is fully defined on this album. Their two subsequent albums, although excellent in their own right, do little to improve upon their debut’s formula. Unlike most great bands, Rage was fully grown even in its infancy, and was signed after doing only 10 power-packed shows in Los Angeles. Although they presented fresh, worthy material, there was little room for improvement to the band’s style, and very little experimentation would have been possible without fundamentally altering the band’s sound. This album, therefore, not only has the advantage of being their first album, but it also has the most start to finish quality. Every tune is a highly explosive ball of energy, none of which is clearly superior to any of the others. Rage Against the Machine also plays the most successful rock-rap fusion ever put on tape. In the current rap-metal feeding frenzy, most bands have opted to mimic Korn (the other band whose work is often referred to as the most representative rap-rock fusion), who rarely sounds anything like rap, although their massive beats are infused with a rap-inspired appreciation for the visceral primacy of rhythm and sound. Also, unlike bands like Limp Bizkit and Incubus, Rage Against the Machine do not cop-out by including a DJ. You may not believe it when you listen to it, but all of the turntable-esque noises that accompany Zack’s raps are created by Tom Morello’s deft manipulation of his instrument (this information is prominently displayed in all of their albums). Also, Zack almost always raps and very rarely sings, and his street-smart and politically aware lyrics come closer to convincing hip-hop subject matter than anything other bands have written. Other bands have missed the fact that rhymes, lyrics, and credibility are more fundamental to rap than its sonics (although rap’s “beat” is arguably more important to its white audience – the primary demographic for rap-rock). Limp Bizkit have incorporated mainstream rap’s overconfident swagger, and this may sell albums, but its flaky, commerical character makes its impact on rap-rock’s legitimacy as a subgenre marginal compared to Rage’s. Therefore, Rage have successfully fused what is essential about both rock and rap into a unique form that is worthy of the title “fusion,” and their work is probably respected by musicians of both genres more equally than any other band who has attempted this risky enterprise. That Rage organized a tour with Wu-Tang for a brief period is suggestive of this (note: Durst’s guest appearances on his albums were probably more indicative of the size of his band’s pocket book than genuine artistic respect. And Korn’s alliance with Ice Cube. . . let’s not even go there). Unfortunately, this incarnation of Rage only made 3 albums, due to Zack’s departure from the band. Whether this was motivated by egoistic hubris, a desire to leave no trace of “sell-out” on his band’s legacy (a label that was becoming more and more appropriate by the juxtaposition of the band’s huge commercial success with its anti-capitalist and anti-establishment lyrics), or something quite else, we probably won’t ever know. What we do know is that Mr. de la Rocha was upset about the fact that his lyrics (the band’s most important element to him) will never have as much impact as the stylistic and formal achievements this band makes on this album. Unquestionably a classic album – 5 stars, and one of the finer albums of the 90’s. Future bands who successfully fuse rap and rock elements will cite this band, and this album particularly, as a primary influence.

    Posted on December 2, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Rage Against the Machine were definitely one of the best bands from the 1990s, and their debut remains their strongest effort. When RATM made it big in the early 90s, they were a breath of fresh air. They borrowed sounds and styles from other bands, like the MC5 and Led Zeppelin, but were also distinctly groundbreaking and original.

    First and foremost, they were just such a killer band. Drummer Brad Wilk and bass player Timmy G were an exciting and dynamic rhythm section. Guitarist Tom Morello came up with some of rock’s best riffs and solos in years. Singer Zack De La Rocha singing/rapping was intense and urgent, and his lyrics were intelligent and insightful, yet never simplistic or pretentious. The lyrics will make you think, will make you question your life and your values, and societal values and norms. The band sounds raw and intense, yet the production is clean and crisp, so it’s easily assessable.

    Rage Against the Machine is band that should appeal to all different types of people. There’s definitely an element of rap/hip-hop, punk, as well as classic rock. This album never lets up. From the opening “Bombtrack” to the closing “Freedom,” every song is intense, and has an infectious groove and catchy riff. It’s really impossible to choose any standout, because really the entire CD is quite excellent.

    Rage Against the Machine’s other two albums “Evil Empire,” “The Battle For Los Angeles,” and the cover album “Renagades” are also quite good, but I’d start off with the classic debut. Easily their best album and one of the decade’s best CDs.

    Posted on December 2, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Someone once confessed their envy of Jimmy Page because he’d written *all* the good guitar riffs, leaving nothing for the rest of us. Well, Rage Against The Machine appears to have stumbled on Jimmy’s secret stash of leftovers. But calling these riffs leftovers is doing them an injustice. Each is a behemoth of intensity and groove, while being surprisingly simple and eminently catchy. They form a solid foundation for each song, easily allowing the rest of the band to fall into lock-step formation when needed, but also allowing ample room for variation. And each song is made up of at least four or five of them, all as strong as the first, to create epic five-minute-plus “agit-pop” tunes.When he’s not anchoring the band with those regal riffs, Tom Morello is coaxing previously unheard of sounds from his Frankenstein guitar. “No samples, keyboards or synthesizers used in the making of this recording,” claims the liner notes, and it’s for Morello’s offbeat work that this claim becomes necessary. Every fill and solo is unique, almost anti-guitar, in their sound. ‘Bullet in the Head’s solo begins with some echo-filled, mechanical sounding distortion. The solo on ‘Know Your Enemy’ could have been produced by a malfunctioning tape machine. ‘Wake-Up’ features a solo bathed in extreme echo and Frampton-style talk-boxing. Even his more conventional solos are enormous. ‘Settle for Nothing’ offers up some some languid jazz lines. ‘Freedom’ is a fine example of how tasty his playing can be when it’s not trying to overwhelm you. And if you love Public Enemy-style sirens with your hip-hop, check out the variations Morello puts on that convention scattered throughout the album (most notably in his rhythm work on ‘Fistful of Steel’). Bassist Timmy C gets several moments to shine as well. He slaps and pops the addictive intro to “Take the Power Back”. Then, a lazy, loping 4-note theme serves as the delicate opening to “Settle for Nothing”, before the heavens cave in (“Death is on my side… Suicide!”). On “Bullet in the Head”, he provides a 7-note riff that’s funky and confrontational (4-notes… 7-notes… See what I mean about simple and intense?).Drummer Brad Wilk combines the skin-pounding intensity of a Dave Grohl, with the Caucasian funkiness of the Chili Peppers Chad Smith, and the hardcore speed of Faith No More’s Mike Bordin. He is much more versatile than you’d think, sprightly riding the high-hat in one verse, crashing the cymbals in the next, and then shimmering through with a snare roll. Wilk’s work on this album, to this day, is my favourite to air-drum to.Frontman Zack de la Rocha may be focused (obsessed?) with social and racial injustice, so much so that those without his same political bent may feel excluded. But he’s also aware enough of the power of a catchy rhyme to draw in those not in the choir, that he lays them out end to end through out the album (“Another funky radical bombtrack started as a sketch in my notebook / But now dope hooks make punks take another look” he raps on ‘Bombtrack’, essentially making this point for me). Zack raps with such passion and verve, and he has such a talent for succinct sloganeering, that he becomes the perfect frontman for this band of agitproppers. Witness his lyrics to ‘Killing in the Name’ (still my favourite track). The song starts with a distorted, almost Wagnerian, guitar overture. It settles into a quiet bass-guitar and cowbell section duet. And then the riff comes in. Finally, Zack begins to chant. And chant. And chant. He doesn’t attempt to tell a story here, but instead just spouts slogan after slogan (“Now you do what they told ya”, “F— you I won’t do what you tell me”, etc.), repeating each over and over. It’s the perfect song for a rowdy group of teenage boys to scream to. Which I suppose explains its enduring popularity.I’ve owned this album since 1992, when I was 17 years old. That year, I saw the Rage boys live in concert twice, and could have gone back for more. If a CD could show wear, like an old LP could, then I would have worn this one out by 1993. It rarely left my stereo that first year. Now, usually when one’s love affair with an album burns so brightly at the outset, it’s liable to fade quickly. That’s hasn’t happened yet here. I can still play this one all the way through, two or three times a day, for a solid week. And it still makes me want to move, and yell, and scream, and think. Now *that* is staying power.

    Posted on December 2, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now