Political music never was as good as this. Rage Against The Machine spoke for many with their music. This recording, their debut album, is highly regarded as a classic for Rock and Metal lovers. Has it aged well today? Let’s take a listen, and see what we have here.
The intro to Bombtrack has some awesome guitar and bass riffing quietly, before going into a great Rock/Metal groove with vocalist Zack De La Rocha putting in an awesome performance over loud guitar riffs. This isn’t just simply a few chords put together by a novice group, there is a Rap music sort of sensibility about this music. Very catchy and nicely constructed, this draws on Rock history, just as much as contemporary music of the time. There is a great midsection here that sounds really awesome, with great riffs and a screaming guitar solo. A great start to this recording, sounds very heavy and awesome.
Next is Killing In The Name which begins with some loud guitar work, before going into a semi-Funk bass part, before more guitar riffs enter. It sounds superb, and likely influenced by a lot of heavy Rock and Metal. It has some interesting lyrics, before Zack De La Rocha goes between whispering and screaming. Lyrics about anti-authoritarianism and war are here, and the piece is intelligent and very inspired. The song gradually builds up throughout, and we hear singing about breaking free from one’s chains. There is a strange guitar solo here (apparently the combination of guitar and a DJ mix set), before we reach into the climax of the song, which is awesome. “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” screams Zack with a passion long lost from a lot of music over the years. Brilliant.
Take The Power Back begins with some basic drumbeats and multitracked guitars, before Zack De La Rocha asks for the music to be cranked up. It goes into a funky, bass led groove of a song, which is intelligently lyrically and musically awesome. This a great song that once again, sounds very political, but sounds like the soundtrack for a left-wing rally. It is an amazing listen, and is the 1990s answer to The Sex Pistols. Full of rage and youthful energy, the whole group do a marvelous job here. The guitar solo here is really excellent, a lot of shredding here sounds awesome. It goes into a semi-Black Sabbath sounding riff section, before singing about railing against institutionalized forces comes along. Towards the end, it goes into a quieter melodic section before gradually going into a furious finish. Nice.
Settle For Nothing begins with some hi-hats and quiet bass riffing, before some ghostly guitar parts enter, and Zack De La Rocha enters with some clever lyrics, before the band launch into a loud and furious piece. It is an awesome and eerie sounding piece that sounds very suspenseful. This is about persistence through an unjust world and has some great music structure to it. Tom Morello plays a semi-Jazz guitar solo throughout this song, proving himself as a great and inspiring musician. Screaming about settling for nothing and taking actions in one’s hands, Zack does superbly here. The outro finishes very quietly.
Next is Bullet In The Head which begins with a great bass guitar part, before launching into a very catchy and rebellious sounding piece that has a great Breakbeat sort of groove about it, plus some excellent guitar riffs in the song. Some interesting lead guitar parts then come along in between the choruses. This is surprisingly elevating music. Sounding loud, heavy, powerful and original, Rage Against The Machine proved to the world their worth. A descending guitar riff comes into the middle of the track which is awesome. It goes into a quieter midsection that builds up slowly. The suspense and climax is absolutely awesome, going from quiet to loud and also slow to fast. Brilliant from start to finish.
Following is Know Your Enemy which begins with tremolo effected guitar parts, before going into a slap Bass propelled groove. Before long, a guitar riff kicks in, signaling a surprise change of music. It goes into a great call to arms for fans and left-wing types alike. It has a multitude of brilliant sections of music, which sound awesome. It is difficult to tell exactly if these guys were Communists, especially considering the artwork on the cover of the album. A great amount of musical variety is here, without keyboards or any additional production on this track. After the guitar solo, a weird breakdown occurs, before leading into a grand finish. Great song.
Wake Up may not be the best song here, but is notable for being at the end of the first in the series of The Matrix films. It begins with an ascending sounding Rock groove, before going into a Bass guitar melody before the rest of the band kick in. Very catchy and interesting, it then goes a great Rock groove with some Jimi Hendrix wah-wah guitar sounds in it. Zack De La Rocha puts in a great performance here in particular, and the music supports him 100%. These guys must have been musical rebels, a lot of the subject matter here is fairly upfront in its intention. The track goes into a more straightforward Rock style groove, before going quiet. The suspense on these tracks are amazing. After some time, we hit a good interim section with Zack De La Rocha recorded saying a lot of different political phrases, before finishing with some magnificent screaming. The end changes tempo, and finishes nicely.
Fistful Of Steel begins with some interesting guitar parts which sound odd, before going straight into a loud and heavy Rock groove. After that, we hit a bouncing bass groove before a siren sounding guitar part enters. The chorus is another call-to-arms musically. Zack De La Rocha is the real star on this track. Although the siren guitar part is rather necessary, it does get a tad annoying. Regardless, this is easily overlooked here and it is well constructed piece with some more interesting guitar solos here. An interesting listen, even though this is not the strongest track here, it is essential listening. The guitar parts in the latter part of the track are awesome.
Next is Township Rebellion which kick starts with a rather odd bass and drum groove with Zack singing over the top of this song. Eventually the guitar join in, and we have a decent heavy tune. It has some excellent lyrics here, and sounds amazing. The chorus is definitely uplifting. We have a very unusual guitar solo, reminiscent of Metallica’s Thrash Metal days. The singalong chorus then returns, before we have an interesting midsection. Sounding like a direct warning to those in society who do not pay attention to the ongoings of society. “Why stand on a silent platform? Fight the war, fuck the norm!” is chanted here. Brilliant and very strong song to hear.
Last track on this album is Freedom which begins with a furious sounding Zack De La Rocha here, in amongst a decent Rock/Metal groove with excellent playing and musicianship. It has some interesting musical touches about it. Going into a percussion based midsection, before launching into a sonic assault, this is brilliant music. There is a strange guitar solo here as well, sounds as though guitarist Tom Morello was very inspired by many different musicians and artists out there. The percussion midsection alternates with the other sections of the song, before going into a build up towards the end that is super angry sounding and surprising in that sense. A great way to finish this album off, and there are some crashing guitar and percussion sounds, along with some feedback to conclude this musical journey.
For the first time since The Sex Pistols, music had a strong, angry and decent political purpose in its music and lyricism. Those of you out there who dig Rock and Metal in particular will enjoy listening to this album. Rage Against The Machine may not exist anymore as a band, but they definitely made their mark. The album cover is a real photo, taken of a Tibetan Buddhist burning himself alive during the 20th century conquest of Tibet from Chinese Communists. If you have freedom, you are very lucky indeed.