"Renegades" (Epic; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton


I know this about Rage Against the Machine: They are perhaps the most critically respected of all metal bands, they are near legends in the eyes of their fans (no, on second thought, they ARE legends in the eyes of their fans) and their music isn't just rock'n'roll - it's IMPORTANT rock'n'roll.

That being said, this is one band I simply can't get into.

Rage veers more into the hip-hop genre than the metal genre. When I want to venture into hip-hop, I prefer the more light-hearted sounds of Limp Bizkit or Methods of Mayhem. I don't like politics in my rock'n'roll - I want to have a good time, forget my problems and bang my head. I can do that (just barely) with Limp Bizkit and it's easy with Methods of Mayhem. But with Rage, as with U2, you have to take your politics with your music and it just doesn't work for me. In addition - as I mentioned - Rage is more hip-hop than metal and I'm a heavy metal fan.

There were two songs in particular that I was most interested in hearing on this collection of cover songs: "Kick Out the Jams" - originally recorded by MC5 - and Devo's "Beautiful World." "Kick Out the Jams" is a strong number, heavy with guitars and attitude. "Beautiful World," however is slowed down even more so than the Devo version and is played on acoustic guitars. Frankly, the silly synthesizers of Mark Mothersbaugh and the yellow jumpsuit gang work much better for the song - giving even more potency to the thoughtful lyrics.

Fans of Rage Against the Machine will no doubt think that "Renegades" is the greatest thing since sliced bread and more power to them. It didn't do anything to change my mind about the band, but - at this point in the game - I guess that really doesn't matter. Hell, look at Snidermann's review of "The Battle of Los Angeles." Obviously, he hears something that I don't. And the band's record sales prove that Snidermann isn't alone.

More evidence that music is the most individual art.

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"The Battle of Los Angeles" (Epic; 1999)

Reviewed by Snidermann


Rage Against The Machineís third release, "The Battle Of Los Angeles," is more of the same. That's a good thing for Rage fans. Hey, what the hell - if it ainít broke, donít fix it! I wondered if the band would be considered hypocritical if they made major cash with their Epic record deal and still sang about the problems with the oppressed of this world. After careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that they are the same as they were before they were rich and famous. The record deal with Epic is just a launching point for their political views, as was their MTV (the non-musical television) concert.

I really liked this release right from the start. Tight, concise vocals; hard-driving, thundering bass and drums and nothing short of outstanding guitar work. Rage has all the elements of a major super group and I do believe they have achieved that status already, as was apparent by selling out a major Los Angeles arena of 17,000+ seats in minutes and the fact that this CD opened easily at the #1 position on the Billboard Top 100 Chart.

Back to Tom Morelloís guitar work: I have not heard anything so fresh in a decade of rock guitar. He makes some really strange sounds come out of his axe that are nothing short of brilliant. A very cool disclaimer appears on the CD's cover: "All sounds made by guitar, bass, drums and vocals." If that notice wasn't there, you'd swear a large synthesizer is making some of the music. Tomís unique style reminds me of Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai all rolled up into one incredible guitar master. Rock on Tom! 


Rage Against The Machine is Zack De La Rocha, vocals; Tim Bob, bass; Brad Wilk, drums and Tom Morello, guitar.

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"Evil Empire" (Epic; 1996)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers


I know that Rage Against the Machine is supposed to be political and cause you to vilify your government, but I just love the guitar that Tom Morello injects into each song. If I ever met them, I would compliment Tom on his guitar playing and watch a certain member of the band lean in for his contribution (he wouldnít get it ...sorry).

RATMís bombastic approach to songwriting seems almost intentional; you canít help but listen and raise your fist in defiance of whatever you cannot control at the time. But while youíre making a monkey face and aping all over your domicile, take into account that political savvy and the abuse of power is not the same thing. Iím seldom swayed by the opinions of musicians or anyone else in Hollywood. Just because somebody's popular, I'm not going to agree with what they have to say.  Ill-informed, ignorance and idolatry all start with the letter "I". So "I" know what Rage is about but the music moves me more than the message.  

Iím sure some readers might want to do a hatchet job on me and thatís their choice, I just keep with the palate of music to inform me, and you. Tom Morelloís guitar deserves more accolades that I could ever give. The drumming and bass almost drown out Zachís ravings and since the band had a four year gap between releases maybe the lead voice is trying to make up for lost time. I donít expect a message in a bottle but when itís a Molotov cocktail, I just wait for it to burn out. 

The first track, "People Of The Sun," and the second, "Bulls On Parade," really get the disc moving, after that the music just keeps getting better. Iíll keep my fist raised to Tom and his incredible guitar work.

Guilty Parties: Zack De La Rocha Ė vocals; Tim Bob Ė bass; Brad Wilk Ė drums; Tom Morello Ė guitars.

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"Rage Against the Machine" (Legacy; 1991)

Reviewed by Snidermann


First things first: I do not like rap music. I'm not saying it's good or bad; it's just not my cup of tea. However, when I first heard Rage Against The Machine's self-titled debut release, something struck me. Something was different. This album had aspects of rap music that I had never heard before ... or after, for that matter. What I heard was a commentary of what was going on in the early 90s, combined with the super-talented band of Tim Commerfold on bass, Brad Wilk on drums, Tom Morello on guitars and Zack De La Rocha on vocals. (I don't usually include the list of band members in the body of my review, but I thought it would be appropriate now ... just fucking because.)

Right after this recording came out, I was working a 12am to 8 am (yes the graveyard shift) at Kinkoís when some of the younger-lings started playing RATM and ever since then I have been a very big fan. The anger, aggression, power, angst, social commentary and just plain balls-out music started me on this Rage road.

Did I like all their stuff the way I liked this recording? I would have to say no. However, this recording is simply one of the best releases around and all you have to do is pay attention to the lyrics to get where this band is coming form. Go back and listen to this recording. I mean, really listen to the entire album. If you donít get it, well, that is your problem, because this is one motherfucking kick-ass release, no question.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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