Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine

Epic Records, 1992

http://www.ratm.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/04/1998

Rage Against The Machine is a group that is supposed to disturb you. Their warcries against societal oppression and unrest have been well documented since their self-titled debut came out in 1992, and they have assumed the position of hard rock's revolutionaries.

I say that Rage Against The Machine should disturb you, but half the time you can't understand what the hell Zack De La Rocha is screaming about without the lyric sheet. Be this as it may, more often than not the music succeeds in hitting the target - if only there had been a little more variety in the performances.

Guitarist Tom Morello proves himself to be one of the more innovative masters of the six-string to hit the airwaves in a long time, wringing out sounds that should not be possible without a synthesizer or a rack of effects pedals. Bassist Timmy C. and drummer Brad Wilk provide a pounding backbeat that threaten to snap your head from your spine. Rising above the din are the screams of De La Rocha, who could be hard rock's answer to rappers like Ice Cube, only without the gratuitous violence and sex.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The single that started the ball rolling for Rage Against The Machine, "Killing In The Name," is easily the best track on the album. True story: the morning that I got married, I had crashed at "Duke" Williams' place after my bachelor party, and this was the first song I listened to when I regained consciousness. Turned out to be a rather nice way of ushering out my bachelor's days.

But there are many other tracks which are just as powerful on Rage Against The Machine. "Take The Power Back" is an incredible track which features an aside where De La Rocha lashes out against our school systems. "Bullet In The Head" and "Know Your Enemy," the latter featuring a guest appearance from Tool's Maynard James Keenan, also are strong points to this album.

The weakness that both album and grup have is that the novelty of such a three-way marriage (political activism, rap and hard rock) wears off quickly, and the music doesn't always have the ability to maintain such a level of intensity. By the time that "Township Rebellion" and "Freedom" come rolling off your speakers, you might find yourself distracted from the music and lyrics. As much as I like the first half of Rage Against The Machine, it took me a long time to get through the entire disc, and it still is hard for me to finish in one sitting.

So what's the solution? Truth be told, there may not be - meaning the challenge that De La Rocha and crew have is creating an album whose intensity level keeps us riding that musical high from beginning to end. (I have yet to finish the band's follow-up Evil Empire - I keep getting hooked on "Bulls On Parade". We'll feature that album here soon.)

Rage Against The Machine is not an act for the kiddies; their messages are aimed at the adults, demanding they wake up and take a good, hard look at the world around them. Like some of the songs on Rage Against The Machine, what you see or hear ain't pretty, but it sure is a powerful statement.

Rating: B-

User Rating: B+


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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.