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25 Years of Rage: Rage Against the Machine Album Review

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Friday, November 3rd, 2017 marked the 25th Anniversary of one of the most important albums of the 1990s. In 1992, the band Rage Against the Machine released their self titled debut; which would shake the very foundation of rock music. In the early 90s, Grunge music – a sub genre of Hard Rock which was centered in Seattle – was just beginning to become the mainstream genre of the decade. While Grunge became the forefront of rock music in the 90s, other sub genres of rock still flourished. Classic/Blues rock saw a resurgence with The Black Crowes, ska-rock was popularized by Sublime, and metal continued to grow from the roots in the 1980s. There were many bands which continued with the principle characteristics of metal, such as Pantera and Metallica. However, there were several bands in the 90s which attempted to create fusion driven sub genres of metal. These bands include Korn, Tool, and Rage Against the Machine.

Rage found its sound by combining elements of the most prominent genres of the decade. By combining their love of hip hop and hard rock, Rage created rap metal; which would later heavily influence the nu metal movement of the early 2000s. Rage was a very politically driven band, with every song on their debut album being centered on a different current issue. The album’s cover is a real life photo from a monk burning himself alive in protest of the Vietnam war. What’s most interesting about the album is how timeless it is. Even now the album still relates to issues which still occur in modern America. “Killing in the Name, possibly the band’s most famous song, centers on the issue of police brutality and the revolution against unjust powers in the United States. “Settle for Nothing” is about the struggle of inner city youth becoming part of the gang culture. This is an issue that is often debated and talked about in current day hip-hop; most recently in albums such as good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar and 4 Your Eyez Only by J. Cole. Rage’s debut album is filled with political statements, and this gave them an edge. They had an important message: stand up for what you believe in and do not be silent. Even if you do not agree with all the political statements and stances of the band. they have a message that most Americans can get behind.

The self titled debut was only ten songs, but it still had more punch that most other albums of the decade. Other than “Killing in the Name,” classics include “Wake Up”, “Bombtrack”, “Township Rebellion”, and “Freedom.” “Wake Up” highlights some of Tom Morello’s masterful guitar playing; and shows the switch from hard rock to heavy metal very gracefully. The song also features some of Zach de la Rocha’s most eccentric and passionate lyrics, with him literally screaming “wake up” at the end of the song. “Freedom” also highlights Morello as a guitarist, and features one of Rage’s best song intros.

While short, the debut self-titled album managed to be a major commercial and critical success of the 1990’s. Today, the influence of RATM is still very prominent; with many of their songs still being played on the radio. The first album remains their best album to date; and is still cherished as one of the greatest debuts in modern rock music.

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25 Years of Rage: Rage Against the Machine Album Review