RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE — Rage Against the Machine

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RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE - Rage Against the Machine cover
3.84 | 82 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1992

Tracklist

1. Bombtrack (4:04)
2. Killing in the Name (5:14)
3. Take the Power Back (5:37)
4. Settle for Nothing (4:48)
5. Bullet in the Head (5:09)
6. Know Your Enemy (4:55)
7. Wake Up (6:04)
8. Fistful of Steel (5:31)
9. Township Rebellion (5:24)
10. Freedom (6:09)

Total Time: 52:58

Bonus disc: Anger Is a Gift
1. Darkness (3:40)
2. Year of tha Boomerang (4:02)
3. Freedom (remix) (6:13)
4. Take the Power Back (live) (6:12)

Total Time: 20:08

Line-up/Musicians

- Zack de la Rocha / vocals
- Tom Morello / guitars
- Tim Commerford / bass
- Brad Wilk / drums, percussion

- Maynard James Keenan / additional vocals on Know Your Enemy
- Stephen Perkins / additional percussion on Know Your Enemy

About this release

Released in 1992 by Epic Records. The 1995 Australian re-release had a bonus disc called Anger Is a Gift.

Thanks to Pekka, Unitron for the updates

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SilentScream213
Another one of those “did it first” albums that in my opinion doesn’t live up to the hype its legacy implies. Aside from Anthrax’s “I’m the Man” and a couple Faith No More songs (if we’re being generous), there really wasn’t much Rap Metal prior to RATM, and certainly not a full album of it. The band certainly took a unique approach and recreated Hip-Hop using entirely real Rock instrumentation and original music, even using some guitar effects to mimic sound effects you might hear in traditional Hip Hop. It’s innovative, but a lot of those “guitar sound effects” end up sounding really annoying, like the siren whine on “Fistful of Steel” or the bass drops on “Township Rebellion.”

Zack sounds angry, and his delivery is good, but man some of the lyrics are weak. Oftentimes he’ll repeat a phrase over and over, and the chorus to the first song gives you a sense of that, where he just says “burn, burn, yes you’re gonna burn” a whopping 8 times. The guitars and the drums suffer the same problem. Sometimes Tom comes up with a decent riff, but after hearing it repeated 16 times over a very boring, monotonous drumbeat, I’m sick of it. The riffs don’t match Zack’s mood, either; they’re far more groovy than angry, and the slow, simple drumming gives no sense of urgency or energy to what /should/ be an angry, energetic album. The music sounds like something to chill out to, not exactly what you want for a revolution. The songs are also way longer than necessary, none under 4 minutes and repeating the same simple ideas over and over again. They’d be much better in short chunks, but they wear themselves out before they’re over.

One huge plus to this album is the bass. Timmy does a phenomenal job with his rhythmic groove, doing way more than backing the band and adding super spicy melodies to the mix. This is the one instrument I didn’t find repetitive at all; he’s definitely got a “lead bassist” thing going on.

Overall, not a bad album at all, but one of the most overrated in my opinion. Rap Metal is a genre that might not have too much room to succeed, but I’d love to see later bands take it in a different direction.
siLLy puPPy
Although rapping to metal music had started as a novelty as far back as 1984 with an all but forgotten dude named the Lone Rager, the possibilities really seemed to take a life of their own when Anthrax shocked the world with their unique thrash metal / hip hop hybrid song “I’m The Man” but the world pretty much wrote it all off as a joke and wasn’t quite ready for the musical collaborative efforts of a perceived black’s only style of music with the predominant whiteness of metal music. Part of that problem was the fact rap music hadn’t gone mainstream yet and it wasn’t until RUN-DMC released its cover of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” which featured both Steven Tyler and Joe Perry that the world finally realized that rap music was a major force in the world of music. While still considered somewhat of a novelty once Fatih No More hit the top 10 on the Billboard chart with its 1989 rap metal hit “Epic,” it seemed that it was destiny that this cross-pollination was here to stay.

While rappers like Ice-T and funk rockers like the Red Hot Chili Peppers were becoming heavier, it wasn’t until the LA based RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE released its self-titled debut in 1992 that the world of rap metal really became an international phenomenon. While the antecedents of this hybridization had hinted at the possibilities, this band that consisted of Zack de la Rocha (vocals), Timmy Commerford (known as Timmy C on bass), Tom Morello (guitar) and Brad Wilk (drums, percussion) really set the world on fire much like the self-immolating Thích Quảng Đức who was the Bhuddist monk who famously went down in history for that famous photo of protesting the Vietnamese war by sacrificing his own life. What a perfect album cover for a band that focused on political revolution and absolutely nobody has done the rap metal thing better than RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE did on its first album.

Part of what makes this album so ridiculously awesome is that all four members were extremely dexterous in how they hybridized hip hop and heavy metal namely by emphasizing the strengths of both and not forcing rap lyrics into some incongruous style of metal music. With the emphasis on the lyrical content, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE benefited by Zack de la Rocha’s superb poetic prose that he delivered with a vocal precision of the most gifted of rappers along with the extreme vocal angst of what metal offers. Graced with a strong bass funk driven groove section with heavy distorted guitar riffs and crushing percussive drive, the band was also lifted by Tom Morello’s uncanny ability to interpret DJ oriented music and channel it through his guitar offering some of the most unique soloing techniques in all of metal history, a style as distinct and unique as this band proved itself to be.

The other factor that makes this debut so utterly brilliant is that each of the 10 tracks has its own developed personality with a diverse array of melodic grooves that provided the perfect backdrop for De la Rocha’s hot on the mic passion and hunger for a more just world. While the grooves provide the basic funkified groove, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE excelled at creative breakdowns, unexpected interludes and a firm sense of command for diverse dynamics. Add to that Morello was uncanny in how he could exploit the guitar to create sounds hitherto unthinkable. He truly had a gift of interpreting guitar playing in a way that absolutely nobody before had considered and although new ideas may be interesting they don’t always result in a satisfying experience. Not the case with RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE despite the fact these youngsters had only begun their career. This album sounds like a group fo seasoned professional as far as the musicianship is concerned only with the fiery punk fueled passion of youthful discontent.

This one was really love at first listen and even now after i pull it out every so often i’m reminded at how intense and absolutely perfect this album is. While it’s rare for a young band to totally come out with a completely new genre of music, it’s even rarer when that first release was already taken it to its logical conclusion. Yeah, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE is blamed for the entire nu metal scene (by the haters) that followed and for wankers like Limp Bizkitt to follow but one can’t condemn any band for inspiring inferior imitators after all. IMHO, this debut album remains the best example of rap metal to have ever existed and it seems unlikely it will ever be improved upon. A true gem of hip hop, funk, metal and political fervor as scorching hot as the album cover suggests. An ALL TIME CLASSIC!
aglasshouse
From what I've seen and heard, rap metal may not be the most popular genre among metalheads. This could be due to the constantly painful thought of LIMP BIZKIT. Yet, there is a lighter side to the rap metal spectrum, and leading the helm was and still is RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE.

I find it funny sometimes when an artist's debut is their most famous album. It just makes me laugh: an artists first release and first actual studio release to the masses just so happens to be more popular than all of their releases afterwards. Of course I'm not saying that this album is bad because/even though it is famous. Let me explain why I like it.

Even though rap does front the music, there is no doubt that the other instruments are far behind. Speaking of the instruments, the guitars as well as the drums retain a constant and heavy funky metal beat that grows depending on where the song goes or is going. The vocals usually dictate where the song is going to go, ranging from quieter BEASTIE BOYS-style rapping onto similarly BB yelling vocals. It certainly was the general rapping sound back in the 90's.

Some highlights of mine include 'Fistful of Steel', 'Bombtrack', 'Killing in the Name', and 'Township Rebellion'.

So overall, I would suggest any alt/funk/rap metal fans to check this out, it's a definite must.

Go give it a listen.
J-Man
Although rap and metal are often seen as polar opposites from both musical and cultural standpoints, it was only a matter of time before the two styles came together to form a killer album. While the genres had flirted with each other in the past, Rage Against the Machine's iconic debut was the first to really solidify 'rap metal' as a genre. Combining the lyrical delivery and and rhythmic phrasings of hip hop with the heavy riffs associated with metal, this observation is a stunning example of political frustration and angst that spoke to listeners back in 1992, and still stands as one of the most important albums from the early nineties'. Rage Against the Machine would, unfortunately, help pave the way for hordes of mediocre nu-metal acts over the next decade, but I wouldn't recommend discarding this masterpiece because of that - this one is essential listening for any open minded metal fan.

On this album, Rage Against the Machine primarily combines heavy and groovy metal riffs with emotionally charged rapping from Zack de la Rocha. His lyrics are extremely political and left-of-center, and though more conservative listeners might not like the band's message, I can't imagine too many staunch religious conservatives having interest in this style of music anyway. The tracks here criticize nationalism, American consumerism, religion, obedience to ideologies, and just about anything else 'traditional', all with a very rebellious attitude. I could see the lyrics here striking some people as over-the-top and overly rooted in teen angst, but I think they are a large part of what makes Rage Against the Machine's debut charming, even if they lack a bit in the subtlety department.

The album's strongest asset is probably in its riffs, however. Much like the classic Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin records, Rage Against the Machine is a nonstop bombardment of powerful riffs with irresistible groove. It's tough not to headbang at least once in each of the tracks here, and songs like “Bombtrack”, “Killing In the Name”, “Wake Up”, and “Township Rebellion” especially stand out as highlights. The riffs are groovy as hell, and the totally defiant lyrics make this the perfect album to rock out to whenever school or work have got you down. Tom Morello also delivers some really great solos throughout the record, and in addition to having some solid technique, his quirky phrasing and note choice makes his style stand out from the crowd.

When you top it all off with tight musicianship and audiophile-quality production, it's hard not to fall in love with Rage Against the Machine's clever riff structures and angst-ridden attitude. The only potential flaw I see in this album is that it doesn't have much in the way of dynamic variation, but I personally think that the observation's strict adherence to killer riffs and furious vocals makes for a coherent listen from start to finish - when the riffs are as catchy as they are here, it's nearly impossible to complain about the band's heavy reliance on them. Rage Against the Machine is an essential purchase for anybody wondering what 'rap metal' sounds like when done right, and it's also one of the most enjoyable albums in my collection. Highly recommended!

Members reviews

floflo79
I'm not a fan of alternative metal but I like Rage Against The Machine and love the eponymous album. The drum work and the bass lines are just groovy as hell, the rap vocals are pretty good, and the Tom Morello's guitar playing is very enjoyable. The main riff of Killing In The Name is just killing, tracks like Freedom, Township Rebellion and of course Know Your Enemy are just awesome. I'm just not a fan of the rap side that brings the 5 starts to four and a half. But I think that the compositions are just great. A metal masterpiece.

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