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.