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21st November 2012

From the vault: Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine

As it turns twenty, we look back at the incendiary debut from the Californian funk-metallers

Were it not for Rage Against the Machine, it would be easy to imagine Zack De La Rocha as the leader of a radical left wing activist network, ranting and raving about corrupt policemen and the government controlling the population through the media. Thankfully, Rage burst onto the scene in 1992 with their politically charged debut album, allowing De La Rocha’s views to be transmitted in a manner which is much more pleasing to the ear, with the band channeling a raw punk energy so perfectly surmised by their moniker.

The very concept of rap metal seems incongruous, bringing together two genres that, on paper, seem to have little in common, but Rage’s debut is by no means contrived, with de la Rocha spitting his articulate lyrics over the simple-but-effective guitar lines that have become Tom Morello’s signature.

The album explodes with ‘Bombtrack’, discussing the bands aggrievance with social inequality with the belief that ‘landlords and power whores’ should ‘burn’ before legendary single ‘Killing In The Name’ is unleashed. Even without the successful Facebook campaign that got the song to Christmas number 1 in 2009, which has subsequently led the song to become the face of opposition towards modern pop music, this would still be regarded as a classic. The track is an angry, brutal attack on American society with reference to cross burning by the Klu Klux Klan and the accusation that some members of the US Police Force are associated with the racial group, ‘some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses’.

There is no time to take a breather before the record rips into ‘Bullet in the Head’ and the ‘Know Your Enemy’, with ‘Freedom’ providing a riotous close to proceedings. Even if you don’t agree with De La Rocha’s views, you certainly can’t ignore them with his powerful and commanding vocal delivery.

Since their debut, Rage have perfected the art of rap metal (no matter how hard Limp Bizkit have tried) and through their eponymous debut album in particular, they will forever be spoken as one of the real giants of music.

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