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Rage Against the Machine

by Rage Against the Machine

Released November 3, 1992 via Epic Records

Reviewed November 12, 2022

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Killing In the Name (65%), Bullet In the Head (40%), Know Your Enemy (37%)

I will forever refuse to believe that anyone who thought Rage Against the Machine only recently “went political” ever listened to even a single song by them. It just isn’t possible. The band’s debut album shares their namesake, which is very much literal, and every track makes it abundantly clear just what machine they stand in opposition to. Rage Against the Machine deliver unfettered rage across every second of the album’s ten tracks—with each member coalescing into a formidable machine of a band in their own right.

Tom Morello is well-respected as an all-time great guitarist, making use of noise, unconventional picking methods, and effects as he seamlessly transitions between captivating solos and heavy riffs. Meanwhile, Tim Commerford (bass) and Brad Wilk (drums) make up one of the most overlooked rhythm sections in existence, as the unmistakable funk and hip-hop-inspired grooves are an essential aspect of Rage’s sound. And with Zack De La Rocha leading the helm with a mic in hand, the band’s explosive sound comes full-circle.

De La Rocha commands a microphone better than nearly anyone, with a fiery relentlessness that underpins every word—whether it’s rapped, screamed, or spoken. Rage boast an incredible talent for packaging revolutionary messages into every track, often hammering them in through the use of repetition. From “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” to “take the power back,” to even a simple “freedom (yeah, right),” calls for action and radicalization are intertwined into the fabric of their existence; the verses are tight and impactful, while the choruses are battle cries for the oppressed and the demoralized. Very few records, if any, capture such poetic rage as well as Rage Against the Machine does, with the stylings of thrash, hardcore punk, hip-hop, and funk meeting at a crossroads, erupting like a four-way train crash, and lighting a fire under generations to come. – Dominick (10/10)

Rage Against the Machine's debut album proved to be a significant moment in time for the alternative metal sphere. Exuding a sentiment of anti-establishment ethos and riding in on a wave of hip viscerality, RATM shook the foundations of a world spinning off its axis. Fueled by the fountain of youth, RATM's highly politicized output balanced the perfect combination of thought and thunder; De La Rocha's take on societal issues/governmental dealings still reverberate to this day. Place perspective on said issues over funk-fueled rhythms and rebellious primal feel, and what you're left with is a flagship for alternative metal. Tom Morello's experimentations on guitar proved that there was still another angle to approach rock music from. The addition of whaling, industrial sounds and tones alongside the familiar chord progressions furthered a sense of chaos—albeit, a cleverly controlled chaos. Sometimes the system in which you rebel against, ironically, has to be worked with in order to plant the seeds. Play the part with the intent of pulling it in your favour. Gut the beast from within. – Peter (8.5/10)

Dominick: 10/10 | Jared: 9/10 | Cam: 8.8/10 | DeVán: 8.5/10 | Peter: 8.5/10


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