Review Summary: A Rage by any other name...
Look, for all intents and purposes this is a Rage Against the Machine EP. The fact that the word "Rage" is in the band's name is no sly winking ironic bit of fan service. Gone is the softening of Morello, Commerford and Wilk's edges that was seen in Audioslave and Morello's other post-RATM output. Back is the hard charging funk metal riffing laced with Morello's trademark use of guitar effects, and with unapologetically political rapping slapped over it. This is new RATM music that RATM fans have craved for SIXTEEN(!) years.
However, as was apparent in Audioslave's records too, the RAGE in Rage Against the Machine comes from Zack de la Rocha's atonal and always pissed off beat poetry. Chuck D and B-Real are hip hop royalty and their MC cred certainly exceeds that of de la Rocha, but they don't RAGE the way he did. Nobody does, really. And that's where this project falls apart.
The fact that there is only one new song and that 3 of the 4 covers on this EP are live recordings indicates that its release is a bit of a hasty effort on the part of this project's musicians to release music ahead of the controversial upcoming US Presidential elections. It's not a band trying to put out a great album, it's a group of fiercely political musicians raising their voices in the only way they know how; the actual music is secondary.
And the music isn't bad, per se. Except for the venerable "Killing in the Name" the songs sound exactly like they're supposed to; like heavier and more pissed off versions of the originals, fortified with Commerford and Wilk's slamming funk metal rhythms, and Morello's surprisingly wanky - but in a good way - guitar work. The title track, and only new song, is not particularly memorable, but is passable. I daresay "Prophets of Rage" and "Shut 'em Down" sound really good. However, the absence of de la Rocha's anarchic energy leaves a huge hole that all of Chuck D and B-Real's considerable talents cannot fill.
Ultimately, that's this EP's biggest failing. It's just good enough to remind you of a far better band, but not good enough to satisfy your craving for said band.