Review Summary: Rage's debut is a monumental accomplishment that never once dips in quality and remains as essential now as ever.
Rage Against The Machine have stood proud as one of the best known and most influential metal bands ever since the release of their eponymous debut twenty-one years ago. They began their rise to fame with the release of such songs as Killing In The Name, the song that sent them soaring up the music charts and ensured their album sold by the sackful. More recently, the band encountered a return to the forefront of the music scene through their inclusion in the highly successful Guitar Hero video game series and the re-release of Killing In The Name, which eventually earned the Number One spot in the charts at Christmas in the U.K.
Released in 1992, the band's first studio album is widely regarded as their finest work, seamlessly blending elements of metal, hard rock and hip-hop. Blistering guitar solos, tight instrumental work across the board and tight rap flows and agonized screams are the bread and butter of this release, and keep it feeling fresh throughout. The bass work is among the finest in commercial metal, from the memorable and infectious introduction to Bombtrack that kicks off the album to the rumbling on Fistful Of Steel that bridges the gap between the drums and Tom Morello's guitar work. Riff-wise, this is easily the most creative the band got, with Killing In The Name boasting a brilliant riff set whilst Settle For Nothing has an extremely deliberate, menacing atmosphere that stands out from the rest of the songs.
Numerous songs on here stick out as instant classics, from the funky bassline that introduces Take The Power Back to the furious, crazed frenzy of politically charged lyrical content that is Fistful Of Steel. However, the real pinnacle of Rage's monumental and highly influential debut album would be Know Your Enemy. The introductory guitar line to this bounces around whilst a very catchy drum beat builds up to a very heavy and unforgettable guitar riff. Zack's rapping on this song is far and away his best on the album, with some very well written, powerful lyrics that will incite fury in the listener's mind. His lyrical content is often very political, showing a blatant disrespect for the Government and it is this winning combination of defiance and anger that makes him the real star of the show. He roars and shouts his way through various sections of songs, whilst showing himself to be a more than talented rapper.
Rage Against The Machine's debut is an album that went on to influence nearly every rap-rock/rap-metal band to come after them, and is a spectacular accomplishment in music that everyone deserves to hear at least once in their life. From Zack's out-of-control rap flows to the sickeningly well-crafted guitar riffs, this is a magnificent album from cover to cover.