Rage Against the Machine
The Battle of Los Angeles


3.0
good

Review

by Bron-Yr-Aur USER (39 Reviews)
July 19th, 2006 | 21 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist


When the idea was first conceived to combine hard, grinding rock and relentless, flowing rap, many scoffed. Now a days, this genre-splicing is not only accepted, but revered as some of the most original sounds to resonate from a speaker in years. Many bands utilized this technique in the nineties, the most respected of which include (but aren’t limited to) The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s, The Beastie Boys, and Urban Dance Squad. Pushing the already flaming envelope one-step farther, Rage Against the Machine took the formula and expanded upon it by introducing political themes into the lyrical content, and by allowing noise master Tom Morello to play the guitar in a thoroughly original and unique way. Upon gaining massive success and adoration with their first two albums, Rage Against the Machine and Evil Empire respectively, Rage once again positioned themselves to slay capitalist pigs and moral degenerates everywhere in 1999. Success was rather vital, as unbeknownst to Rage, or anyone else for that matter, this would be their last studio album consisting of original material before the members would go their (somewhat) separate ways. However, as for most famous rock and roll acts, trouble was lurking on the horizon, not only for the album, but indeed for the band itself.

One thing that many fans tend to vent over is when a great band changes artistic and/or musical direction in favor of some more experimental flavorings. One of few, Rage is a band that really didn’t change much throughout their career. Heavy riffing, fluid rapping, and angry, far-left political stances dominated every album. So, why is this one different? In time, my friend. In time.


While many are more familiar with the hit single Guerrilla Radio (as featured on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2) than the album it is contained on, it is arguably one of the weakest tracks on the entire album. Reasoning for such a statement can be found in the irony that the song exudes, as it lends itself to the very capitalist union’s the band had always assaulted. Musically, the funky bass-lines and smooth raps are delectable, but taking them seriously can sometimes be quite the daunting task. And perhaps that’s the biggest problem of all right there. It is rather difficult to take the band seriously on songs like Calm Like A Bomb, in which Zack De La Rocha sounds simply pathetic with painfully delivered inquiries/proclamations as “Whatcha say, whatcha say, whatcha say what? I’m calm like a bomb!", and only more so when set against a very mechanical and eventually grating backdrop provided by Morello and the rhythm section, consisting of Tim Commerford (bass) and Brad Wilk (drums). By contrast, the band has never sounded more righteous and together than on the hit Sleep Now In the Fire. Indeed, it could be a defining Rage song in its heavy, all-out chorus and adamant verses.


While there are some glaring problems with the album, there are some genuinely fantastic moments on it. Maria features some of the best rapping (not to mention lyrics) of Zack’s career, and Tom Morello once more demonstrates he’s a wizard with the guitar. Likewise, Testify is an all-out rock fest, with it’s anthem-like riff and Zack’s adamant wail of “Now testify!. Yes, the band does give us some great tunes. Another problem, however, lies in the track listing. Of the twelve tracks that make up the album, about five are simply weak. Perhaps the defining song for this scenario is Born Of A Broken Man, which is utterly dull and boring, and one of the rather abundant times on the album that it’s hard to take Zack De la Rocha seriously. Add unto this that the order of the album tends to go in the classic “hits first, filler last" format, and you’ve got quite the problem.

At times, one can almost detect a funk atmosphere preservering under the atmosphere provided by the blazing guitar of Tom Morello, and the mammoth groove provided by Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk. Such diversity does contribute to the album, and as a matter of a fact is one of it's redeeming features. While a song like Mic Check isn't exactly standard issue for a rock-rap band, it proves itself to be a highlight with it's groove and feel, and of course, with Zack De La Rocha's rhymes and rhythym. Never fear, though, because it is indeed grinding rock and sweaty riffs that head the album off, and as mentioned, when the band does deliver, they deliver. War Within a Breath is a massive tune, almost epic in it's lyrical content and feel. And even though there are plenty of weaker tunes residing on the album, a tune such as this is more than enough to keep you listening, or at least draw your attention evey now and again.


After releasing their final album, which was essentially a Raged-out cover disk, Rage Against the Machine split up, effectively ending their partnership. While their first two albums leave a legacy that is as gargantuan as the climactic ending in Bulls On Parade, their last two efforts hang just outside the spotlight, and for good reason. Ultimately, the album just doesn't deliver the same relentless stomping offered by their first two albums, and when it does, it feels oddly out of place; different in some unexplainable way. However, it is a record worth listening to, and at the very least one might be inclined to skip the bad tracks and just listen to Maria and songs of that ilk. Indeed, if any other political rock-rap band had released an album such as this, infinite promise would have been exuded from it. But as it were, it wasn’t enough to define and ultimately close the career of one of the biggest bands of the nineties.


Pros

Awesome grooves

Great lyrics

Tom Morello’s playing

Zack De La Rocha

Cons

Some guitar noises are utterly obnoxious

Filler

Zack De La Rocha


3/5



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user ratings (2507)
Chart.
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Bron-Yr-Aur
July 19th 2006


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I wanted to try a shorter review, and I'm not too happy with it or sure of it, but yeah.

metallicaman8
July 19th 2006


4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think you sort of copied the putting zach under pros and cons from drunken viking's review of MOP where he put Metallica under both. Otherwise good review, it totally pwns mine.

Bron-Yr-Aur
July 19th 2006


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nah, I didn't copy it. His was a joke. Mine was serious. Zack was great at times, and painful at others. But thanks. This Message Edited On 07.19.06

metallicaman8
July 19th 2006


4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I find him to always be great, but to each his own. And your more than welcome

Two-Headed Boy
July 19th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

RATM are, I've noticed, really repetetive. But they're pretty damn good musicians, no doubting that.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2006


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'm not too fond of RATM, but good review.
[Quote=review]One of few, Rgae is a band that really didn’t change much throughout their career.[/QUOTE]
teeheeThis Message Edited On 07.19.06

south_of_heaven 11
July 19th 2006


5436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

haha chan took what I was gonna say. And I totally agree with on 'Sleep Now In the Fire'. I love that track. But I really enjoy Zach.

Good review as always friend. Yes, it was short, but still detailed exactly where it needed to be.This Message Edited On 07.19.06

bwnstl
July 19th 2006


8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I can't believe you reviewed this album mentioning all of those songs, but nowhere did you mention Ashes in the Fall--easily one of the standout tracks.

Bron-Yr-Aur
July 19th 2006


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You're all dumb and hurt my emotions and thanks I got it.

tom79
July 19th 2006


3376 Comments


This is a good album, although my favorite is probably their self titled debut. Nice Review.

Digging: Wil Wagner - Laika

John Paul Harrison
July 19th 2006


1014 Comments


I grant this review approval. Good job, Mr. Bron-Yr-Aur.

I almost bought this album. Almost.

RandyfromPennywise
July 19th 2006


752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hey, I thought your review was ok, but could have done with some finer details of the sound and some more comparisons. Also some people might get confused by you putting Bulls On Parade in bold as well, maybe. Just a thought.

Although I disagree with your points to some degree it's still written well.

Bonus track 'No Shelter', that's a good album closing. There Ain't No Shelter Here!

Bron-Yr-Aur
July 19th 2006


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Honestly, I'm bored with giving the same kind of details and comparisons, and this review shows it. It's really just the product of boredom, but thanks. As for the bolding, I've been doing it for a while, so confusion shouldn't be too rampant. Mucho appreciado (I think).This Message Edited On 07.19.06

Quaker
July 19th 2006


10 Comments


I'm bored with giving the same kind of details and comparisons, and this review shows it.

My friend then you need to find another album that you love and due your usual great album type review with it.

Bron-Yr-Aur
July 19th 2006


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Aw thanks Davey.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2006


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Guerilla Radio is pretty much a good song.

Quaker
July 19th 2006


10 Comments


No problem Joshey. Yeah I remember reading your great reviews of the albums you so dearly love and the reviews being so great.

But back to the album, now I really haven't listened to this stuff but I guess I will have to now, just so I can have an opinion on it.

Bron-Yr-Aur
July 19th 2006


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

No problem Joshey. Yeah I remember reading your great reviews of the albums you so dearly love and the reviews being so great.


I swear I am not Quaker. Check the list, punk. And yeah, you should check it out at least, some of it is really good.


RandyfromPennywise
July 19th 2006


752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[QUOTE=Bron-Yr-Aur]As for the bolding, I've been doing it for a while, so confusion shouldn't be too rampant.[/QUOTE]I was referring to the fact that Bulls isn't on this record though.

Yeah I know what you mean about saying the same things over and over again, it's hard to find 50 ways to say the one thing.

7 of 7 approval shows it's a pretty solid review :thumb:.This Message Edited On 07.19.06

dub sean
May 18th 2007


980 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

dude I just read this, and I agree 100%. You really nailed this dude.

the album just doesn't deliver the same relentless stomping offered by their first two albums

Agreed...and when it does it feels different, almost made-over or watered down...
I just agree with you on this one.



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