Rage Against the Machine “Rage Against the Machine” (1992)

     You won’t find many transitions more contrasting than going from the Sundays to Rage Against the Machine, but here we are.  By the early 1990s, I was moving (obviously) away from the emerging sounds of intense guitar rock, other than my affinity for the grunge titans of the day.  Harder, more intense rock was not what I was looking for, so I didn’t pay much attention to Rage Against the Machine at the time.  This goes for most bands similar in style, although I would repeatedly be drawn back later in the decade.  As such, this album and this band has always been a bit of a mystery to me, so I didn’t really know what I was getting into.  It turns out, I liked it more than I expected, part of which is likely attributable to my own RATM encounter last fall. Their self-titled debut album is rated #221 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

     I have always assumed Tom Morello, who plays guitar, was the dominant force in the band, but it appears all of the four members are credited with the songwriting and creation.  Vocalist Zack de la Rocha is certainly an intense character, and while I don’t find his vocals difficult to listen to, they are more of a mix of rap, spoken word and screaming on key, and I find his limited range (albeit no limit in power) a bit of a detraction when compared to the iconic lead singers on the grunge circuit.

     The record opens with “Bombtrack”, which is a great kickoff, and you understand quickly both the name and intention of Rage Against the Machine.  Their most well-known song, and lead hit from this record, is “Killing in the Name”, and it is pretty infectious as a hard rock track.  If you are angry at the world in any way, and I know a couple of people in particular who were yesterday, this song is an excellent prescription.

     My other favorite track is “Take the Power Back”, it is an interesting bend of funk and power metal, and if I were to pick some others, “Wake Up”, “Fistful of Steel”, and “Township Rebellion” are among the others I liked most.  As I noted, I liked this record better than I expected, and I found something to latch on to with each of the ten tracks I heard.

     Fast-forward from 1992 to the fall of 2021, and I found myself at a small-scale brewery in Manassas, VA with my good friend Mike (yes, another Mike).   He is among my most wired-in and insightful music thought leaders, and he is always pushing me to explore new angles.  A close friend from college, I am beyond grateful that we have reconnected.  Anyway, we stumbled into this brewery as we heard a band playing “Immigrant Song” in the distance, and we joined the tens and tens of other people there enjoying this three-piece unit.  The crowd, as it were, liked Zeppelin tracks, they loved Sabbath tunes, but the one song that sent this entire crowd of at least 22 people into a complete frenzy?  “Killing In the Name” was the song of the night, and soon we were all bouncing up down and screaming “F You, I won’t do what you told me!” in perfect, if slightly inebriated unison.

     So, to my 21 new friends, whoever that band was, and most importantly, my dear friend Mike, thanks for helping me finally Rage Against the Machine, almost 30 years after, but never too late.

Raging Against the Machine (2021)

Published by tacopepper

A music fan...

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