Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine

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Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine

1 CD(s) - Rap Metal - Label: Epic - Distributor: Sony Music/Arvato Services - Released: 20/05/2002 - 5099747222429

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Review of "Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine"

published 05/03/2008 | kerrieryall
Member since : 04/10/2006
Reviews : 81
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About me :
Thanks to everyone who has rated/commented on my reviews - I will try and return the favour as soon as I can.
Pro Stunning innovative guitar riffs and confrontational vocals
Cons Hard to think of one, but not an album for everyone
very helpful
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Value for Money

"A Few Angry men"

In the early 90s innovative guitarist Tom Morello left his band 'Lock Up' and went in search of members for new band. After seeing rapper Zach de la Rocha playing a club he also enlisted drummer Brad Wilk and childhood friend Tim Commerford on bass. Calling themselves 'Inside Out' they put together they put together some demo tracks that would later evolve into the self-titled 'Rage Against the Machine'. This album also features Stephen Perkins on percussion and some guest vocals from Maynard James Keenan (Tool and Perfect Circle) for 'Know your Enemy'.

Released in 1992 the album is renowned for it's high production values (some audiophile sites use tracks, in particular, 'Take the Power Back' to test speakers and amplifiers), original guitar techniques and it's hard line stance on political issues (covering social justice and equality). It was produced by Garth 'GGGarth' Richardson who has also worked with L7, Kerbdog, The Melvins, Rise Against and Skunk Anansie.


'Landlords and power whores
On my people they took turns
Dispute the suits I ignite
And watch 'em burn'

The album opens on a great introduction to RATM. The composition, innovation and mood of the track hint at what is to come, but is relatively simple and easy going compared to later tracks. The track opens with a heavy riff from the guitar and angst ridden drums, but it is the vocals that provide the pace and rhythm. The bridge is formed of a simple guitar riff interrupted by muted guitar slides.

'Killing in The Name'

'Those who died are justified for wearing the badge, they're the chosen whites
You justified those that died by wearing the badge, they're the chosen whites'

Opening with an explosive guitar riff with short sharp chords, before launching into their most infamous riff. This straight forward and anthemic rock track is instantly recognisable to just about anyone. The vocal composition is simple with the verses built around the same few lines repeated for brain washing emphasis, suggesting some members of the American police force are members of the KKK. . The verses are slow paced and expectant, after the first chorus you know what to expect; it is the quiet before the storm. The guitar solo (placed at number 89 on Guitar World's "100 Greatest Guitar Solos") makes heavy use of a Digitech Whammy pitch shifter which makes the sound high pitched and panic inducing, a sound that would become the trademark sound of the band. Personally it would not go down as one of my favourites as it is not easy listening, the genius though, lies in its emotive feel for what is a very short solo. The guitar chords are matched by equally furious vocals, while the percussion remains very basic and virtually indistinguishable, largely relying on the guitar and bass for rhythm.

'Take the Power Back'

'To expose and close the doors on those who try
To strangle and mangle the truth
Cause the circle of hatred continues unless we react
We gotta take the power back'

A surprisingly gentle start with a bluesy bass riff and drums that build tension before the guitar comes in. The main body of the track consists of a clear, short riff punctuated by distorted slides and muted breaks. The bridge is introduced by a screaming guitar which quickly moves to intricate and melodic as it ascends to a climax before it begins a dissention where it is met by more vocals punctuated by simple and clear chords. A gentle break with a rhythm tapped out on symbols and gentle riffs building in amplitude as the vocals gain pace creates a tension leading into the outro. The outro itself starts with a gentle melodic guitar riff before coming to an intensely aggressive climax.

'Settle for Nothing'

'If we don't take action now
We'll settle for nothing later
We'll settle for nothing now
And we'll settle for noting later'

A gentle start with a warm and foreboding bass, heightened by a wailing guitar, whispered vocals and gentle percussion. These build up until the tension breaks for the first verse breaks to a heavier and more aggressive and distorted guitar riff using the single notes built into chords to make the sound more full. The entire track is lead by a persistent, clear and off beat percussion with the emphasis alternating from foreboding and oppressive to overpowering, thus giving each mood all the more impact. The bridge opens with a lonely delicate melody (a stark contrast to the heavy chords). The vocals then replace the guitar with increasing passion and amplitude and take the track back to the final cycle of heavy chords.

'Bullet in the Head'

'Believin' all the lies that they're tellin' ya
Buying all the products that they're sellin' ya
They say jump and you say how high
Ya brain dead
Ya gotta fuckin' bullet in ya head'

The bass takes the main riff as ascending and descending riffs on the guitar take the backdrop. This track sees Morello using the Digitech Whammy again together with a Wah-wah pedal. During the verses he picks open D and G strings while having the Digitech Whammy fully open, resulting in the notes being raised 2 octaves and the sound that results is like an alarm. This unusual sound is created by picking a natural harmonic then raising the pitch on the Whammy. During the chorus the vocals and guitar take turns in taking the lead with the guitar starting with dirty low pitched chords then moving up in pitch while retaining the filth. The entire piece has a funky rhythm with a jazzy drum set and guitar backed vocals. The bridge begins with a fast paced guitar that is then joined by the bass and drums. The guitar then falls away to leave the bass taking the riff forward for the last verse and outro. The outro is vocally lead, starting with a whisper, and then leading the listener to an explosive break in tension as the rest of the band become more erratic.

'Know Your Enemy'

'What? The land of the free?
Whoever told you that was your enemy?'

Opening on an anthemic and distinctive riff that is instantly recognisable to the most casual RATM listener. It was created using a toggle switch to change between 2 pick ups, one of which is turned on, the other off which creates a tremolo affect. This effect is similar to the transform effect used by DJs, which Morello took a lot of his inspiration from. A fast paced, ascending riff then leads the listener into the verses and another fast paced riff based around the bass. For the break Keenan takes over the heavily produced vocals which are brought to an end by a crazy high pitched guitar solo again controlled by the Whammy pedal. The guitar solo itself is a crazy high pitched good thing with a sense of urgency.

'Wake Up'

'Ya know they murdered X
And tried to blame it on Islam
He turned the power to the have-nots
And then came the shot'

An unusual composition that comprises of multiple music parts that fit together much like a suite with a funk time signature. A long introduction, with opening riffs are reminiscent of Led Zeppelins' 'Kashmir' and lyrics berating the listener to speak out against racism in the US government and include a section of spoken word that is taken from a memo from J Edgar Hoover suggesting targets for the suppression of the Black Nationalist Movement. During the bridge, Morello switches between pick ups muting notes giving a more electronica sound followed by heavy and increasingly fast paced and obscenely heavy guitar chords which become quieter and expectant as they are joined by whispered vocals. The tight guitar notes then fall back to return to a rolling guitar for an interlude before coming back to an intense bass and alternating guitar chords together with spoken word using two sets of vocals are used to reiterate key lines. The intense last verse features de La Rocha screaming 'Wake Up' repeatedly, just in case you didn't get the message along to an erratic guitar, before coming to an abrupt end.

'Fistful of Steel'

'Something about silence makes me sick
Cause silence can be violent
Sorta like a slit wrist'

Introduced by a wavering guitar which falls into discord before the bass takes up the thoughtful central riff with a slow plodding beat and is answered by the vocals. In the background the guitar takes up a lonely wail while the vocals lead the piece, punctuated by the bass and drum beats acting as one and a heavy guitar riff between verses. The bass and guitar set up strong opposing forces with the bass leading the verses and the guitar taking on the choruses. There are 2 sets of vocals; one clear, while the other is distorted. The bridge, an intense duet between a painfully high pitched guitar vocals, increase in pace until they explode into a powerful outro with a heavy abrupt ending.

''Township Rebellion'

'Why stand on a silent platform?
Fight the war, fuck the norm'

In typical RATM style the bass takes the opening riff after a brief intro for the first verse with screeching interludes from the guitar and heavy chord based breaks between verses. The composition is fast paced and unforgiving with a disjointed and awkward rhythm and frequent breaks in the vocals for emphasis. In a bizarre twist the first break takes on an 80s 'stadium rock' influence, while the bass keeps it grounded and dirty. The second break features dirty guitar chords overlaid by angry whispered vocals building in intensity. The last chorus has an amazing riff, but it doesn't last long before it moves into the intricate and funky outro.


'Yo, check the diagonal
Three brothers gone
Come on
Doesn't that make it three in a row?'

Based around the story of political prisoner Leonard Peltier. A Native American activist jailed in 1977 for the murder of two FBI agents amid some controversy over his guilt. Opening with a simple, clear guitar riff, the vocals quickly take the lead. This track features less experimentation on guitar and is more of a straight forward rock track than the rest of the album. Percussion uses a basic rock drum set with short sharp beats, while the bass remains very simplistic. Breaks in between vocals are filled with subdued percussion and eerie guitar. There is a brief introduction to each chorus with a barely audible line; 'Anger is a gift' before it heads into an enraged mix of sound with a melodic guitar and simple bass. The outro is a true release for the players after the track almost grinds to a halt, the tension builds up again with an ascending bass before exploding with screaming vocals and the guitar joins the bass riff as they work in unison bringing up the pace until it is exhausted and descends into discord and feedback.

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Comments on this review

  • TheIncredibleCheeseSandwich published 03/07/2008
    another good review
  • larsbaby published 05/03/2008
    You really know your stuff, really impressive review of a modern classic - have an E!
  • lilyellowfish published 05/03/2008
    Excellent review, really detailed xx
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Product Information : Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine

Manufacturer's product description

1 CD(s) - Rap Metal - Label: Epic - Distributor: Sony Music/Arvato Services - Released: 20/05/2002 - 5099747222429

Product Details

EAN: 5099747222429


Listed on Ciao since: 16/07/2000