Album Review: Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine
This is Rage Against The Machine’s debut album. Rage Against The Machine releasing their first album in 1992 gave people with glow-sticks and outrageous fashion trends something to remember them for. It is this album that would make them Gods of this era because they sparked a new genre of music (Rap Metal) that was ridiculously exciting for its time.
Bombtrack is the opening track where we hear Commerford’s dazzling and seductive bassline which sucks you right in from the very get go. Bombtrack revolves around De La Rocha singing about social inequality, and sees him proclaiming that powerwhores and landlords will burn. De La Rocha’s opening lyrics “It’s just another bombtrack/and suckas be thinkin’ that they can fake this/but I’m gonna drop it at a higher level” are ridiculously intelligent because he claims it’s another bombtrack; meaning that the concept behind the song has been said before but Rage Against The Machine will express the song in their own style. This can be seen as a metaphor for the whole album.
Killing In The Name is the most iconic song from this album. The song focuses on racism in security agencies “Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses“, this reflects that they were talking about people in the US police forces being part of the Ku Klax Klan, whose symbol is the burning cross. Remembered for its controversial chorus with the lyrics “F*** you I won’t do what you tell me“, it allows the listener to apply this sentiment to an aspect of their own life. This is a wonderful feature because Rage allow you to be part of something that is personal.
Commerford’s funky bass line which is slapped in Take The Power Back resembles a bassline from Flea of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Take The Power Back shows the intensity this band has. What makes this song an absolute belter is the quiet breakdown which builds to Morello’s solo where he flourishes effortlessly on the guitar. Once again it blows the listener away to hear how competent they all are as musicians. Bullet In The Head highlights Commerford’s vibrant bassline, accompanied by Wilk’s simple but thumping drum beat. The impact of the song just like other numbers such as Township Rebellion and Freedom build to a electrifying crescendo that hits a nerve every single time.
Know Your Enemy depicts Morello as an absolute genius because he uses the toggle-switch on his guitar to act as a kill-switch. Morello took the guitar one step further by not making it sound like a guitar! He took inspiration from disc-jockeys and emulated those sounds on the guitar. Morello had completely changed the ballgame for using that particular instrument. De La Rocha’s vocals are delivered impeccably. Vocals are also provided by Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan. Wake Up is another great track that resembles Led Zeppelin’s storming number Kashmir. The song oozes brilliance but the absolute pinnacle is De La Rocha’s powerful speech “He may be a real contender for this position should he abandon his supposed obedience/to white liberal doctrine of non-violence and embrace black nationalism.” Their involvement and interest in politics had more people aware of the subject due to previous acts never really diving into these topics.
This debut album is remembered for its cover sleeve with Thích Quảng Đức, a Vietnamese buddhist monk, burning himself. The album was so versatile and revolutionary for its time because of its powerful musical delivery and the strong convictions that lay behind it. Incorporating new musical techniques, racism, politics, fusing rap and metal while adding hints of blues in their music was all impressive and incredibly innovative. The album gave hope to a new generation of musicians because of how different it was. Nothing like this had ever come before. The band allowed listeners to thrive on something original which wouldn’t make them look at music the same way ever again.