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The Battle of Los Angeles

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Average Rating
★★★★½
(597 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • Rage Against the Machine is a band I only started listening to out of curiosity. I’d never heard any of their music, but I had gotten into Audioslave and wanted to see what these guys were like. Rage is a unique band in many ways. First off, this album (their final album, which was called Album of the Year by many Rock magazines; Even Time Magazine in fact) is amazing. Every song is good and not just in the sense, it’s not bad. You can listen to each of these songs a few times over, there’s not one track I’d skip over while listening to it. Tom Morello (who does stuff with a guitar that the best guitar players in the world couldn’t do) is in top form; Tim Commerford cranks out some great basslines here (most notably in “Calm Like a Bomb”), and Brad Wilk is of course great. Zack De La Rocha’s vocals and lyrics are very angry and very political here; He makes some genuine points though. That’s one of the things I find most impressive about Rage. A lot of bands that do political songs, wind up with good lyrics and bad songs. It doesn’t even matter if you’re listening to the lyrics on this album; The music is still completely enjoyable. If you’re looking to buy a really good CD, then get this. Here are the tracks and occasional in-depth commentary:

    1. Testify-5/5
    2. Guerilla Radio-5/5-One of my favorite songs on the album.
    3. Calm Like a Bomb-5/5-One of my favorite Rage songs. It’s really catchy and you can’t beat Tom Morrello’s riffs.
    4. Mic Check-5/5-I love the lyrics; I love the chorus. Great song.
    5. Sleep Now in the Fire-5/5-The guitar riff in this song is awesome. As are the lyrics; One of my favorite songs on here.
    6. Born of a Broken Man-5/5-Zack De La Rocha speaks the verses and then pours energy into the chorus. I know some people who don’t like this song, I love it.
    7. Born as Ghosts-5/5-My 2nd favorite song on the album.
    8. Maria-5/5
    9. Voice of the Voiceless-5/5-It’s short, but it’s a great song.
    10. New Millenium Homes-5/5-This probably ties as my 2nd favorite song. It sounds a little like Bulls on Parade, but the lyrics and music are awesome.
    11. Ashes in the Fall-5/5-The music is awesome. De La Rocha whispering “Like ashes in the fall” is kind of creepy; Angry lyrics that definitely get their point across.
    12. War Within a Breath-5/5-And a very impressive album closer. Some of the best drumming is on this track.
    GRADE: A

    Posted on December 10, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I’ll keep this short and sweet since, while I think this album was excellent, I don’t view “The Battle of Los Angeles” to be the band’s finest work. I think that’s a toss-up between their debut and the nigh-perfect “Evil Empire.” This band told it like it was, is, and will likely, unfortunately, continue to be each and every time they released an album.

    However, this one digs into the band’s favorite topics a little deeper and what it uncovers is hideous and depressing. From songs ranging about the destitution-to-desperation of the poor in Mexico (“Maria”) to the us-against-them nature of abandoned/forgotten ethic groups/gangs in the inner city (“Born As Ghosts”) to a song about one of their biggest causes, the freedom of (perhaps wrongly) convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and other so-called criminals that may be in the same boat (“Voice of the Voiceless”), this album doesn’t relent until the CD ends.

    However, the one track that has always stuck out in my mind as the glimpse behind the curtain to which all others should be compared is the masterful “Ashes in the Fall,” perhaps the band’s most gut-wrenching, soul-searing track in its entire career.

    The song takes an unflinching look at poverty and the plight of the lower class, immigrants and homeless: the very people that the government should be taking care of that it instead allows to fend for themselves. Starving, desperate, abused, and neglected, these people see no other way out of their situation than resorting to violence and crime…actions for which they are arrested and imprisoned, if not killed outright. The song’s most gripping moment is when Zach de la Rocha mockingly screams, “Ain’t it funny how the factory doors close ’round the time that the school doors close? ‘Round the time that the doors of the jail cell open up to greet you like the Reaper?”

    In other words, while most children are entering/leaving school, the pvverty-stricken are walking into factories where they can be promised low wages and grueling work until the whistle blows. If not that, then finding trouble and expending what little life is left inside them in the confines of a prison cell. It is a bleak image and all too true in the darker corners of every city in the United States.

    As others have said, the reference to the new sound being just like the old sound is a snide reminder to the listener that the grandiose speeches of the government’s appointed representatives are just echoes of all that was said by those who came before them. And all the while, a voice can be heard in the undercurrent calling for the expulsion of all “non-natives” in favor of the so-called “chosen” people of God, a direct contradiction to everything the founders of the nation believed it should be about, according to the Constitution.

    It is an exceptional song on the strength of its lyrics alone, but the band truly outdid itself with the music, from the high-pitched cry of the guitar to the soft rhthym of the bass during the build to the song’s final crescendo.

    I don’t know if there’s a human being that can listen to this song and not feel his or her soul quail in horror at the images it creates. If such a person exists, I hope we never meet.

    Posted on December 10, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This album, the third from Rage Against the Machine, has long been one of my favorite C.D.’s, and it used to be THE favorite. Every band member–especially guitarist Tom Morello and vocalist Zach de la Rocha– are at the top of their game, here, and this C.D. just sounds awesome! “The Battle of Los Angeles” is possibly Rage’s heaviest and angriest effort, and almost every song is a hit. It’s hard to pick best songs, but the radio hit “Guerilla Radio” (which has great riffs, angry rapping, and lots of yelling), “Testify,” “Calm Like a Bomb,” “Ashes in the Fall” (which is a song where Zach builds from a whisper to a yell), “War Within a Breath,” and my personal favorite, “Sleep Now In the Fire” stand out the most. Most of the song structures are the same (with Tom Morello making hip-hop sound effects for Zach de la Rocha to rap over in the verses, and Tom plays bigger, chunkier riffs in the choruses), but when the album sounds this great, how can you complain? This album, which Spin Magazine listed as one of the best C.D.’s of the last 20 years, is also (of course) lyrically very powerful. Zach was always a great vocalist, and an even better lyricist; he could rap in a way that would force you to hang on to every word. “Guerilla Radio” battles Al Gore, whereas “Sleep Now In the Fire” is about government greed, “Testify” is about a whitness testifying in court, “Born As Ghosts” rhymes about children becoming soldiers and fighting in war, and “Ashes In the Fall” takes on religious hypocrisy. This is, in my opinion, this group’s finest hour. Tom Morello’s crazy guitar noise makes every song sound awesome, and Zach’s lyrical strength and bold political statements makes this album relevant and timeless, even several years after its release. Sadly, however, “Battle of Los Angeles” would be Rage Against the Machine’s last album of new material (2000’s “Renegades” was a covers album.) Well, at least they went out on top!

    Posted on December 10, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Rage Against The Machine may not be the most prolific band on the planet (three albums over the course of a decade) but the finished product always makes it worth the wait. On “The Battle Of Los Angeles”, RATM’s sound becomes refined and more eclectic – some songs like “Mic Check” and “Ashes Of The Fall” cover new territory for the band. It’s true that they have lost some of the aggression of their other two albums, but they compensate with sonic variety and more insightful lyrics, and songs like “Born As Ghosts” and “Testify” wouldn’t sound out of place on their first album. What puts RATM way ahead of many of their peers is that actually have a message and aren’t merely “doing it for the nookie”. Zack is very passionate about the Zapatista rebels and Mumia Abu-Jamal getting a fair trial (and freedom) and the lyrics on BOLA are the best he’s written to date. My favorite songs on the album would have to be “Guerrilla Radio”, “Calm Like A Bomb”, “Born Of A Broken Man”, and “Testify”, though all of them are awesome. Highly recommended to fans of the rap/rock sound that are looking for something more lyric-intensive.

    Posted on December 10, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Rage Against The Machine, in only three albums, has achieved the balance they’ve needed. Previously, their heavy messages and their particularly heavy music have clashed, with one drowning out the other in about half of their songs.But “Battle” changes that. The music has much more variety than previous albums. “Calm Like a Bomb” has some ridiculous guitar work, as does “Voice of the Voiceless,” a call of the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal. “Sleep Now In The Fire,” the current single, is an almost straight-ahead rock tune, and pretty darn catchy.Tom Morello is in peak form on “Battle,” creating some insane sounds out of his guitars, such as the ‘guitarmonica’ solo on “Guerilla Radio” or some Tom-knows-what feedback on “Mic Check.” Lyricist Zach De La Rocha screams along with his music with feeling not found too often. Their bassist, under the mocking psuedonym “Y.tim.K” shows off his talent quite often, as does drummer Brad Wilk. Once again, RATM can make the claim that “All sounds [are] made by guitar, bass, drums, and vocals” only. Listen through this album and gasp at that achievement; it doesn’t sound like it came easily. Overall this album is a worthy addition to any Rage fan’s collection, and hopefully the thought-provoking messages and powerful music will draw in many new fans for such a deserving band.

    Posted on December 9, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now