Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine
November 3, 1992
Epic Records/ SME
1. Bombtrack // 2. Killing In The Name Of // 3. Take The Power Back // 4. Settle For Nothing
// 5. Bullet In The Head // 6. Know Your Enemy // 7. Wake Up // 8. Fistful Of Steel // 9. Township Rebellion // 10. Freedom
My apologies for my absence from the blog. I was a busy student following courses in management learning very little. If anything my appreciation for management books significantly decreased. What does this have to do with the music? I really don’t know. All I know is that these days I need more Rock and Metal to ventilate my studies-frustrated brain. This leads me to find musical comfort with one of my favorite bands: Rage Against The Machine. If the name doesn’t ring a bell for you just stop reading, get the album and listen to the lyrics. Even in these ‘political correct’ times, twenty one years from its release this album’s message still makes sense.
On Youtube search for their 1992 and 1993 interviews. (An ad blocker of some sorts is advised before you visit the cursed Youtube!) I’ll recap what this band is about: San Francisco; Tom Morello, Zack De La Rocha, Brad Wilk and Tim Bob start as an underground rock band with a social message; Epic gives the band a record and the rest is history, as they say. Killing In The Name Of and Bombtrack became massive hits despite (or maybe because of) initial censorship. RATM’s life shows gained a reputation that attracted a solid fan base through the years. This album is one of the best albums released during the nineties if you ask me.
Bombtrack kicks off the album. A subtle melody leads to the bombastic intro and from there on the entire band makes its presence. From 3:05 the real goodness starts if you ask me: Tom Morello lets the guitar speak for itself. Lyrically Zack introduces himself with this “funky radical bombtrack” to give the “Landlords and powerwhores” a wake-up call. Killing In The Name Of brings a grin to my face. This is Rock with a funky bass line and Zack whipping up the audience to jump around. Tom’s guitar around 3:54 – 4:10 is icing on the cake. The iconic “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me!” line says it all. Lyrically the song addresses the abuse of power behind police badges and insignia.
Take The Power Back, the title says it all. This a funky protest song that would take every B-Boy into seventh heaven if it were a break-beat instrumental. Listen carefully and you understand why the band is called Rage Against The Machine. The instrumental part of this song gives me the shivers: the drumming is tastefully energetic, the bass line is groovy and the guitar sounds finger licking good. Settle For Nothing follows. Mostly spoken word, instrumental backing and Metal. In this song Zack takes his stance. Bullet In The Head is different. A more laid back instrumental part with an almost satirical vocal delivery from Zack. 3:08, prepare to launch. 4:29, Metal! Lyrically the song is about propaganda, the masses and the sheeple. The title describes the sad ending of the sheeple.
Know Your Enemy, the guitar welcomes you to a funky jam. Around 0:48 you can headbang on this solid rocker. Zack’s rapping is easy to understand. 2:38 – 3:06, chorus and the funky jam resumes. 4:09, Zack continues his message until the music stops at 4:42 and you hear “All of which are American dreams!”. If Zack is to be believed there’s no such thing but I rather prefer George Carlin’s explanation. Wake Up start like a good Metal song until around 1:00 the funky jam takes off. At 3:31 the song changes again, back to Metal until 4:29 at “I think I heard a shot”. 5:07 and the band starts to jam. Lyrically this song is about raising awareness about civil rights activists like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Yet they were shot, so wake up.
Fistful Of Steel starts as a steady rocker. Smooth bass lines and wails create a sonic contrast: Zack’s delivery sounds as if he is preaching accompanied by sirens. 4:45, the Hard Rock part starts and the guitars screams. Lyrically the song is about how the microphone is Zack’s gun, his “fistful of steel”. Township Rebellion kicks off with the rhythm section launching the song in a rocker at 0:34 until the break-beats resume at 1:06. At 1:34 the rock instrumentals grind forwards again and at 2:07 there’s just grooving with subtle guitars solos. After about every thirty seconds the song shifts into another instrumental phase to close off in a grand finale starting at 4:28. “Why stand on a silent platform, fight the war, fuck the norm” says it all. Freedom is basically an extension of the previous song. The entire last song is a big outro with jams and lyrics. 3:43, the final starts with grinding Hard Rock, lingers on in “Freedom Yeah!” and everything ends with a growl and the noise of a PA-system.
I like this album a lot. I re-listened to this album after the Sound City documentary by Dave Grohl. RATM went to Sound City to record their album following in the footsteps of Nirvana and here I am typing about this album. I gave this album a 090/100, why? Zack De La Rocha’s vocals are fine for one listen but that limits the appeal of this album. The band is great. Tom Morello on guitar elevates everything to a higher level. Tim Bob’s bass lines are groovy and Brad Wilk’s drumming has the just right energy. Also this album did not become victim of the so-called loudness wars: turn up the volume as much as you like, the sound remains crisp and dynamic.
Content wise there is a lot to like about this album. You hear Funk, Rock, Metal and Hip-Hop in various parts of the album. Lyrically speaking Zack reminds me of an angry Sly Stone or Curtis Mayfield, although a tad repetitive and he screams a lot. Sure his rapping/spoken word is preachy but it’s very tolerable. Early interviews reveal that RATM was influenced by various genres and artists from Nirvana to Run DMC.
Killing In The Name Of
Take The Power Back
(I could mention every track given there’s no filler to be found i.m.h.o.)
I mentioned it in the first paragraph: “If the name doesn’t ring a bell for you just stop reading, get the album and listen to the lyrics. In these ‘political correct’ times this album still makes sense.” Even if you don’t particularly care for the lyrical content, highly recommended.