1992, Music

Rage Against the Machine (1992)

So much of what Rage did became cliche by the end of the decade that approaching this after hearing too much Rage and too many Rage imitators, it’s really hard to imagine how fresh this must have sounded in late 1992.

Unlike other “funk metal” or “rap metal” bands, Rage got their formula figured out right off the bat and, well, there’s nothing “metal” about it. (This is hard rock. The distinction might seem semantic but listen to Slayer or Sepultura or something else from around this time and then listen to this and tell me this is “Metal.”) The formula is this: pretty classic hard rock riffs with enough of an alternative / punk edge to sound modern, rapped lyrics, and a guitarist who thinks his solos need to sound like a turntable. It is a formula that works pretty well. It feels like the new punk, at least compared to something like Skate Punk, which sounds sophomoric in comparison. And though Morello’s solos eventually became jokes because he never seemed to be able to overcome his own self-imposed stylistic limitation, it was a pretty damn unique thing to do.

But it remains a formula. I have now heard three of their four albums (though I haven’t heard the other two in years) and, like any good punk band, they don’t evolve much, everything sounds the same. I have trouble remembering which songs are on which albums because I would have to concentrate a lot more to hear clear musical differences in their sound. Lyrically I’m sure they evolved but figuring that out would involve listening to the rest of their catalogue again. And I don’t like this formula enough to do that.


All tracks written by Rage Against the Machine

  1. “Bombtrack” 4:04
  2. “Killing in the Name” 5:14
  3. “Take the Power Back” 5:37
  4. “Settle for Nothing” 4:48
  5. “Bullet in the Head” 5:07
  6. “Know Your Enemy” 4:55
  7. “Wake Up” 6:04
  8. “Fistful of Steel” 5:31
  9. “Township Rebellion” 5:24
  10. “Freedom” 6:06

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