Review Summary: Good album, but starts to sound the same after a while
Before you tear me a new one, let me point out that this is indeed a good album. In the context of Rage's career, this album deserves a four or four point five. Coming off of "Evil Empire" (with hit single "Bull's on Parade"), the band members began to tire of each other, and took a break. So you have to give the band credit for being able to stay together long enough in a studio to record what many consider their finest album. So why do I not like it as much as the next guy? Read on.
Before you guys get riled up about my rating, let me explain that the first six songs on this album are probably one of the best potential EP's out there. "Testify", "Guerrilla Radio" and "Calm Like A Bomb" is a trilogy of all-four-on-the-floor visceral punches to the gut that never loses tension, even during their quiet moments. Tom Morello comes off as thrash-metal version of Jimmy Page, while Zack De La Rocha shows us that everyone can complain about the government, but he's the one who can be the voice of a movement. The rhythm section is equally peerless in its approach. Tim Commerford, who described his bass-playing on the earlier albums as "third rate Flea knock-off" (his words not mine, so put your guns away), has really came into his own as a bass-player. Also, I think we can all agree Brad Wilk is a great drummer.
The album slows down for three minutes on "Mic Check", and shows the band at their most playfully funky. The only problem I have with this song is that Tom Morello's guitar sounds like a fart (pardon my juvenile language). The song also showcases Zack's rapping in a more hip-hoppy form then the other songs (in the earlier songs, his rapping comes off more as measured snarl instead of a rhythmic device). After this we get the album's most catchy songs "Sleep Now in the Fire". This song has the honor of being the only song that I can play on both drums and guitar (I've only been playing guitar for a month so leave me alone). After this, we get "Born of A Broken Man" which is one of the albums more heavy tracks. It also features some touching guitar during the chorus.
The album kind of falls apart after the first six songs; okay maybe "falls apart" isn't right, "gets stuck in the mud" is a better phrase. In all honesty there is nothing wrong with the last six tracks, the album just starts to sound the same. Especially during "Maria" and "Born as Ghosts", where Morello sounds like he's trying to turn his instrument into the guitar equivalent of John Lydon's bleating. The rhythm remains heavy and tight though. The problem is that Morello and De La Rocha, easily the most recognizable aspects of RATM, never really seem to change their approach to the song. The album regains some of its impact on "Voice of the Voiceless" and "New Millennium Homes", but Morello starts to self-indulgently noodle away on his guitar by the time the last to song come on.
All in all though, the album stands the test of time. For metalheads and funk-fans, the album is a must-have. Some of you guys may like the whole more than me, but hey it’s my opinion and I hope the Sputnik community can accept that. What RATM needed was an album that kept the core sound intact, yet also expanded it. They attempted this with "Renegades", but that's a tale for another day...
I like me some Rage but (for me, anyway) they've always been a band that can never make a song that is great from beginning to end. They make tons of catchy verses but most of their choruses are terrible. And the few songs that have good choruses are inconsistent elsewhere. Still, the catchy parts and the "fuck the man" lyrics are always good for a listen every so often.
I seen how guys on this website tear apart people who gave "American Idiot" a good review, so I was pretty sure they would kill me if I gave a much-loved album a less then superb rating. So yes, I did defend myself too much. Besides that, is there anything else I need to fix?
Someone once told me this, in regards to writing:
"It doesn't matter if it's finished, it can always be better."
- You make a strong case, and i'm very impressed because i've only heard people praise this album and your reasons are valid.
but in a review, you dont want to be too opinionated, be more factual.
but hey, i'm no expert, just a guy throwing in his 2 cents. It's a good start, keep writing.
not trying to undermine you or anything, but isn't writing a review about getting your opinion across and giving reasons for that opinion? If I just wrote "The lyrics speak of injustice, and the song climaxes into a guitar solo" instead of "De La Rocha has a very keen eye for detail, never sparing us of his thoughts on a variety of topics. The song steadily builds up to a cathartic solo that may be one of Morello's best" then I wouldn't be able to get my thoughts across.
Well what I meant was that in a review you want to get in the middle of opinion and fact. for example:
"So why do I not like it as much as the next guy? Read on."
you could have gone without that. there's too much of "you" in this review, we want to know about the band and the music. but I am in no way saying your review was bad, you make some very good points, and your very confident in what you say. all good qualities.
sorry, it's tough to communicate via internet. but yeah, youve got good solid stuff here. to be honest, in the RATM discography this one is my least favorite as well, but it does contain it's solid moments. i 100% agree with your 3.5.