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The Battle of Los Angeles

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  • 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