Rage Against the Machine- Battle of Los Angeles
“Whatcha say, Whatcha say, Whatcha say, what" I’m Calm Like a Bomb!”………
…I’ve never been a stranger to Rage Against the Machine’s music. I can vividly picture me as a 9-year-old, seeing the music videos for ‘Sleep Now in the Fire’ and ‘Killing in the Name’, jumping and chanting along. But, it was only recently that I discovered the raw, incendiary power of Rage’s music. So, about 8 months ago, a friend recommended their self titled, because of ‘Bombtrack’. My liking took off from there. The blend of jagged rapping, thundering bass, hip hop like drums, and radical, yet simple guitar riffs hooked me and since then, it hasn’t stopped. Rage has always followed a certain formula for their songs. It usually consists of ridiculously catchy riffing, guitar solos, standout bass, and fiery choruses. This album is absolutely no exception to that formula. But it works, nonetheless, and it won’t get tiring (at least on the good tracks). The album seems to be a blend of some incredible songs, and some pure, nonfat filler. The earlier are more present at the very beginning and the very end. I highly doubt you want me to continue typing these paragraphs, so I’ll begin.
The first three tracks are probably some of the best songs Rage has ever put out. I truly don’t want to be biased or ‘fan-boyish’ by any means, but it’s true. From my personal favorite Rage song, the albums opener, “Testify” and its earth shattering chorus, to “Calm Like a Bomb” and its no-frills funk/rap pure snot-nosed attitude. The earlier of the two, ‘Testify’ is my favorite RATM song, just for the energy of the riff blended in with Zack’s vocals. The latter is an effect heavy song, with a crunchy wah bassline and palm scratched guitar melodies. “Guerilla Radio” is undoubtedly Rage’s most commercialized song off of this particular album, and it’s fire breathing chorus, ‘Lights out! Guerilla Radio….turn that sh*t up!’ is still being heard the world over. Once again, Zack’s far left-winged views completely attack our government. However, I can’t help it but be somewhat turned off by the preaching of the fall of capitalism, when in truth, Rage Against the Machine was signed to Epic Records, a sub-division of Sony, which is by far, the most capitalistic corporation today. That’s a tad of irony for you, and it was deceiving and hypocritical on Rage’s part.
“Mic Check” and “Maria” are somewhat different from the others. Stylistically, ‘Mic Check’ isn’t as formulated as the other songs, and isn’t a handful of catchy riffs, but tempo shifts, as well as mellow points. Lyrically, ‘Maria’ is unique because of it’s story line. As opposed to the usual attack on our Democracy, Zack’s lyrics portray an immigrant who works in a sweat shop in the U.S. and is later murdered. While these songs are indeed standout tracks for their unique features that set them apart from the others for diversity, the song-writing is nothing more than slightly, just above average. Grade wise, they’d score a C+ or B-.
The energetic, fist pumping songs far surpass the downshifted, personal songs. There is undoubtedly ever present filler through a good portion of the album. Not everyone will agree with me on that matter, because I view ‘Born of a Broken Man’ to be a valued story, but it doesn’t sit well with me in the song. Musically, it lacks the ingredient to keep my attention focused on all aspects of the music. On the contrary, ‘Sleep Now in the Fire’ might be a little more stretched out, lyrically, but the perfection of the rhythm section and Tom’s riffing catches my eardrums. ‘Born as Ghosts’ is quite possibly the worst song Rage Against the Machine has ever written, as musically, it’s bland and average, and lyrically, it isn’t any fresh idea, other than giving the finger to someone. ‘New Millennium Homes’ also tracks in as filler, and I’m not going to bother repeating myself. It lacks the qualities of a good song.
It is not the case however, that most of the album us bad, except for the first 4 or 5 songs. The last few tracks are quite good, in my opinion. “Voice of the Voiceless”, being the first of the 4, with the exception of the horrible “New Millennium Homes’ kicks off a great outro with an upbeat, jangly song, but is serious in getting its message across. “You’ll never silence the voice of the voiceless” suggests an attack on the wealthier portion of society for gaining more power than those less fortunate. ‘Ashes in the Fall’ is a more personal matter, but still a great song. The riffing in it is very hooky, and you’ll probably get the riff later in the song stuck in your head, like the one from “Bullet in the Head”. I don’t care what anyone says about “War Within a Breath”, I actually like the song. The intro features a fancy wah-wah bass effect, but sounds almost flanged. The riff picks up from there until Zack screams “This of land of death. War within a breath!” All in all, I thought it was a very good choice for a closing song.
Overall, I thought it was a great album. There are certainly flaws within a few songs, but the others make up for what the bad songs lack. There are two poles here, being completely opposite ends of the spectrum.
There are the amazing songs, which revolutionized the bands popularity, and there are the really UBER crappy songs.I was a little sad while listening to this for the first time, knowing it was Rage’s final original album. Released in 1999, Zack quit Rage Against the Machine in October, 2000. Renegades was released 2 months after. Hope you liked the review!
Rage Against the Machine- Battle of Los Angeles (1999)
Zack De La Rocha- Vocals/ lyrics
Tom Morello- Guitars
Brad Wilk- Drums
Y tim K- Bass
All sounds made by guitar, bass, drums, and voices!!!
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We should really have a Sputnik Award Show. :thumb: