Review Summary: Another great album by RATM that fails to disapoint. Each song is enjoyable and worth a good amount of listening. A must buy for RATM fans.
Rage Against the Machine Band Members:
Zack de la Rocha- Vocals
Tom Morello- Guitar
Tim Commerford- Bass
Brad Wilk- Drums
Rage Against the Machine is a very fiery, very in-your-face, very good band. Their sound begins and ends with the intense vocals of Zack de la Rocha. Zack’s vocal style is a fast paced almost rap that helps mold that in-your-face sound. Ranging from high to low and always adding in that “YEEEAH!” Zack’s vocals fit in well with Rage’s play. Tom Morello is another key component to Rage’s overall sound. Morello always finds a way to add in those infectious guitar solos that almost sound like turntables. Morello’s catchy hard rock riffs barely disappoint either. Next is Rage’s bassist Tim Commerford (aka Tim C.) who doesn’t do a bad job either. His amazing intro to one of my favorites by Rage on this album and overall by the band “Calm like a Bomb” continues to amaze me. Finally there’s Brad Wilk, the drummer of Rage. His hard, heavy drumming is intense and as fast paced as the rest of the crew time and time again. All the parts of Rage’s sound instrumentally and emotionally are a huge part of their many successes. Rage’s 1999 album “The Battle of Los Angeles” went double platinum, and was the last studio record before Zack de la Rocha left the band in 2000. This album continues to please me and has a whole lot of what Rage does best, being really good. “The Battle of Los Angeles” is an easy album to delve into a listening spree with and one of those albums where you can sit back and relax while leaving it on shuffle. It’s no surprise why this album went double platinum, and has some of Rage’s best songs in it.
If you’ve ever heard Rage Against the Machine, you know they obviously are great musicians. In every album they show time and time again they can get it done, and it will sound great. Rage has another element to their style of play, and that element is rebellion. For more than any other band I listen to, Rage stands up for what they believe in, and vehemently protests what they don’t believe in. Some examples in “The Battle of Los Angeles” are “Testify”, “Guerrilla Radio”, “Calm Like a Bomb”, “Mic Check”, “New Millennium Homes” and “Ashes in the Fall”. We all are familiar with what rebellion is, young or old we have rebelled against something. When we’re kids, rebelling is taking an extra cookie from the cookie jar. When we’re teenagers it’s running upstairs and slamming your door while throwing on your headphones in the middle of a talk with your parents. When we are adults it’s hitting snooze on your alarm clock when you’re already late for work. For any of those situations, a Rage song can act as the theme music for it. The attitude and intensity Rage plays with is just as important, and has just as much as an impact as their musical talent. This is one aspect of Rage’s style that really makes their music that much better, and “The Battle of Los Angeles” is no exception.
If I had to answer what was my favorite Rage Against the Machine song, I probably couldn’t do it. Rage has so many good songs that I enjoy, and a lot are packed right in on this album. Some songs like “Testify”, “Calm like a Bomb”, “Sleep Now in the Fire”, “Born of a Broken Man”, “Maria”, and “Ashes in the Fall” would be included in my very favorites of Rage. The track that opens up the album is “Testify”, the name itself screams that “f**k you” rebellious attitude that I was explaining. It starts off with a soft guitar riff that explodes into Brad Wilk slamming on the drums, Morello and Commerford go into their loud riffs, and Zack begins with his usual loud yell of “YAH”. The rest of the song keeps getting louder as it goes along, and is in the class of most of my favorite Rage songs. The next song on the album is “Guerilla Radio”, which is another great song. Morello’s riff is one that sounds like the screeching of a turntable, and fits well with the song. Zack is basically rapping in this one like a lot of other Rage songs. Its high points are enough to get you head banging and jumping around in a church. Toward the middle of the song Zack whispers quietly then the song begins to explode back into its steady flow of heaviness. After “Guerilla Radio” another favorite of mine next up on the track list is “Calm like a Bomb”. Just like the title the song is no lightweight. Like I said before the intro bass line played by Commerford is one of my favorites by him. Then he breaks out into a funky bass line that is played with Morello imitating a turntable again at times. Then the chorus is Zack screaming “IGNITE, IGNITE, IGNITE!” that makes you revisit that head banging sensation that you begin to become familiar with in “Guerilla Radio”. The first three tracks on the album are really good, and the album continues to get better as it goes along.
Next up on “The Battle of Los Angeles” is a song that is somewhat hip-hop-like; it’s called “Mic Check”. Commerford takes his turn in playing DJ for the day, with the intro consisting of his bass line with Morello playing a soft guitar riff. Then it has some pretty good songwriting as usual from Zack, with a lot of clever rhymes. Zack raps a lot in this song as well as some others on this album. “Mic Check” shows off Rage’s rebellious side 10 fold and it’s easy to see with the first line saying “To tha young r to tha e tha b to tha e tha l never give up just live up”. “Mic Check” all in all is a great song, but not one of my favorites by Rage. Track five is none other than “Sleep Now in the Fire”. “Sleep Now in the Fire” is one of the first Rage songs I heard, and helped get me into them a lot. I can clearly remember it almost like yesterday, watching the video for it on youtube for days on end telling myself to go out and get a Rage album. The song starts off with a catchy riff by Morello and booms heavily through your headphones in half a minute (This is of course capped off by the usual “YAH!” by Zack). Lyrics in this song stick to your head as you hear them, like a lot of Rage songs. Sometimes in school I remember in my head screaming the chorus “SLEEP NOW IN THE FIRE!” and vividly hearing Morello throw down a heavy riff in the background because the song would be glued to my memory. “Sleep Now in the Fire” continues with the loud upbeat sound throughout and refuses to disappoint. Even the solo that Morello likes to add in most songs is great and could be argued as one of his best. “Born of a Broken Man” is the sixth track, and again just like others on the album, rightfully deserves to be in the greatest songs of Rage. The song starts off with a very smooth soft guitar riff, which almost sounds acoustic, and then just as quick the song ignites into a heavy masterpiece of musical ecstasy. Zack takes a different approach to this song and whispers the lyrics most of the time, which goes well with Morello’s soft riff. Zack does revert back to his yell during the heavy parts which shows how big his range is. “Born of a Broken Man” is another great track on this album and like I said before it is one of Rage’s more enjoyable works.
Following six amazing tracks, some great tracks follow up but don’t quite match up as better. Seventh on the track list is “Born as Ghosts”, it starts off with a frenzied mix of bass and guitar. The beat of the song is very strange and different and stays that way most of the song until it begins to develop and grow into the high points of the song. “Born as Ghosts” is a good different kind of track, but not one of the best. “Maria” is the next song, and a great one. It stays in a high point basically throughout the whole song. “Maria” starts off with another one of Morello’s screeching type of riffs and Commerford playing an intricate bass line that flows well in the background. The song builds up momentum for a minute or so then begins to explode and then goes back to the beginning sound. The ninth track is “Voice of the Voiceless”, it’s a pretty short two and a half minutes, and by the end leaves you wanting a little more. It sounds more like “Born as Ghosts” and has an intro that builds and begins to grow like most tracks on this album. The chorus is the best component to this song and packs that head banging feeling.
“New Millennium Homes” opens up the last three songs on the album. Packed with a great solo towards the end of the song and a very enjoyable overall sound “New Millennium Homes” is a quite powerful track. Loud and strong it is worth a few listens and its highpoints are as irresistible as other tracks on this album, if not more. The next to last track on “The Battle of Los Angeles” is “Ashes in the fall”. “Ashes in the fall” begins with an addicting guitar intro. It begins to develop louder and louder like a lot of other Rage songs, but doesn’t fully show its apex of loudness until the end of the song. When the apex of the song arrives head banging is inevitable, and makes “Ashes in the fall” an extremely enjoyable track. Finally the last song is “War Within a Breath”, and it starts off well. It’s intro includes a screaming guitar riff by Morello, and a nice bass line in the back by Commerford, a style that Rage uses a lot. Instead of growing the beginning starts off middle range loudness, then goes to a whisper by Zack, then grows. Morello plays a soft guitar riff during the chorus that is similar to the intro of “Born of a Broken Man”. All in all “War Within a Breath” is a good closing song to the album, and a powerful track in general. So there you have it, Rage’s 1999 release “The Battle of Los Angeles”, an album that went double platinum rightfully so. Definitely a must for Rage fans, and an enjoyable album none the less for any music fan in general.