Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine (Cover Artwork)

Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine: Rage Against the MachineRage Against the Machine (1992)
Sony Music

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: chrisafichrisafi
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Rage Against the Machine don't have an album review on this site? Okay, well, a quick search will show you that they do have one, the 2003 record-label cash-in on the back of their split: a live album. And yes, they do pretty much pre-date this site entirely and they hardly happily slot into the gen.
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Rage Against the Machine don't have an album review on this site? Okay, well, a quick search will show you that they do have one, the 2003 record-label cash-in on the back of their split: a live album. And yes, they do pretty much pre-date this site entirely and they hardly happily slot into the genre of 'punk' however you personally wish to define the term in your head. But over the years this site has had reviews of literally some of the worst musical dross ever created, and pretty much every genre you can think of represented and now, after reading a Wu-Tang Clan album review which isn't even for their classic Enter the Wu-Tang Clan (36 Chambers), I think this has to change, especially given the band are now touring throughout the biggest global venues they can get their hands on.

My copy of this self-titled release, not being a reissue or reprint, is actually one of the oldest physical CDs I own, having racked up a massive 15+ year lifespan now since its release in late 1992. Musical geeks amongst you may have know that's actually 10 years after the CD format was introduced to the musical world, and therefore infer that my record collection must suck. I urge you to remain quiet. I was only five in 1992, after all. And no, I was not a five-year-old die-hard RATM fan headbanging and air-guitaring my way through this album's 10 tracks of savage musical dissent. Instead, years later I was given this album by an older friend, who decided he didn't like them anymore. He was one of the many casulties of nĂ¼-metal, cashing in such trully brilliant and classic music for pale, bland, completely derivative and forgettable impersonations (Limp Bizkit, anyone?).

But enough about CDs, the Wu-Tang Clan and the woefulness of Fred Durst; this review is about Rage Against the Machine. From the first track "Bombtrack," the winning formula this album represents slaps you in the face: Tom Morello's crunching riffs, the politically-charged rants of Zach de la Rocha, slow and fast-building crescendos and a nice sprinkling of solos, gang vocals and chants. Anyone who has heard "Killing in the Name" (which should be everyone, regardless of whether you are on punknews.org or ilovehiphop.net -- even if you discovered it only through the medium of "Guitar Hero 2"), will know exactly how the whole sound comes together.

It comes at you at 400 miles per hour. And accelerates. It takes you left, then right and then along a brand new axis of movement you had previously not discovered. It sounds angry, sad and non-plussed all within a minute of each other, yet stays consistent and tight. However, despite the roaring and huge sound you encounter, the album as a complete unit does tail off slightly towards the end. Tracks like "Fistful of Steel" and "Freedom" continue the raw, heavy 'rage' heard from the start and are not a drop in tempo, but do seem to lose a bit of the shine and real head-banging induced nausea that you get from the true power of tracks like "Take the Power Back" and "Bullet in the Head."

The sound quality is famously brilliant on this album: no over-compression, audio manipulation, clipping or other waveform distortions here. Indeed, the notes even have the disclaimer: "No samples, keyboards or synthesizers used in the making of this record." This album really is pure and unadulterated in every way.

So, you may be asking if I am one of those Rage Against the Machine fanboys. The band seem to have an army of followers, but I am honestly not one of them. I will see them live for the first time in the summer and am excited, but even so, I do think this band really did have its time in a different decade. This, I think, far eclipses the rest of their work, which generally spiralled downwards with every release. However, they remain powerful and relevant today, but not in the same way; they are arguably, alongside Refused, the biggest 1990s influence on a lot of the new music that passes through sites like this every week.

So, okay, it can be a bit repetitive. The last four tracks tail off. Sometimes you wish instead of stretching most of the tracks to five minutes they had kept it at three. Sometimes, Zach's groans, grunts and 'come-on!'s can cut a bit raw and seem slightly out of place. But then moments such as the end of "Know Your Enemy" with the haunting repeated chant "All of which are American dreams" are nothing short of breathaking. This album is all about inspiring music that is straightforward, in your face, uncompromising and hugely powerful. Based on those criteria, this is an absolute masterpiece.


People who liked this also liked:
Against Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Clash - London CallingAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitOperation Ivy - Operation IvyThe Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeBad Religion - Stranger Than FictionThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!NOFX - Punk In Drublic

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
nedsammy (December 14, 2011)

If anything, I neglect the front half of the album for the end; Wake Up and Freedom are two of my favourites. Great all around though.

andrewg (June 28, 2008)

funny. i was looking the the iron man cast and tom morello plays "insurgent #5"

the more you know.

drbino (June 27, 2008)

What a classic album. Just saw these guys a couple of weeks ago in holland and i think the songs from this album were definatly the best of the set. Especialy Freedom.
Anger is a gift!
Fuck yeah. Still as relevant today as it was 16 years ago.

INDW (June 27, 2008)

very nice review of a top quality album; their best imo and 9 is the right score.

I would say that the talk of 3 quality albums is misplaced however, the covers album is sorely underrated. Very good cover of minor threat on there.

wyzo (June 26, 2008)

I remember being a young teenager buying this from what would be today a big box store, and thinking I just bought a major label album that is 'subversive', this record is either going to nosedive into hype or justify the label gamble.

I might not dig the level of moshity that this band created in young white kids, but it is painfully dense record. Hard to listen to the whole record straight, just very dense and geologic in its pounding both lyrically and musically. Great songs.

I also liked some of Zach's DJ shadow collaborations.

And while as a whole, including the absurd band name, they were atrocious, audioslave's singles were a guilty pleasure for me, very guilty, I mean that band was the epitome of shitty mt.dew "intense" rock, but those singles are solid if mainstream numbers. I feel so shamed now. As I should.


KurtTGS (June 26, 2008)

Yeah Rastid, I was confused there for a second.

fallingupwards84 (June 26, 2008)

great album, and to the people upset that an older album is getting reviewed... don't read it, plain and simple

Rastid (June 26, 2008)

ok, i'm an idiot, too. I meant paulrulzdood not KurtTGS. My bad, Kurt. My bad.

Rastid (June 26, 2008)

"It had to be capitalism
The vortex of this rage
This competition
Man to man"

KurtTGS, you're an idiot.

sugarfull (June 25, 2008)

Never liked this band, but I'm glad that this got reviewed.

nocigar (June 25, 2008)

Amazing album for an amazing band. Their concert in WI was so awesome, mud pits and giant mud hills and pouring rain!! so fun.

chrisafi (June 25, 2008)

Because its a classic and therefore deserves a review on this site!

Some people may also not be as cool and omnipotent as you, because you obviously know absolutely everything so why bother reading reviews of anything..


RYANGP (June 25, 2008)

Score is for people who review 16 year-old albums.

We knew this was a great cd back in '92, so what's the point of reviewing it again?

KurtTGS (June 25, 2008)

This was my favorite band for like 4 years. I made my dad order the Woodstock '99 pay-per-view just so I could watch their set. He got pissed when they burned the flags.

This record and "Evil Empire" taught me how to play drums.

Speaking of Evil Empire, that riff that comes in on the song "Snakecharmer" right after Zach says "your friendship is a fog that disappears when the wind redirects" used to make me go fucking nuts. Still does.

Love these guys.

paulrulzdood (June 25, 2008)

RATM aren't anti-capitalist, at least not overtly, their lyrics were always typically about social-injustice more than economic systems, but whatever Rastid, you're probably a complete tool

Rastid (June 25, 2008)

"down with capitalism" shirts, on-sale now for just $25!

VictorIkpeba24 (June 25, 2008)

"even if you discovered it only through the medium of "Guitar Hero 2".

I you're in this case an more than 14 years old, kill yourself please.

VictorIkpeba24 (June 25, 2008)

Classic. I don't like rap/metal or anything that sounds like that, but this album is a classic, everyone likes it.

lookbackandlaugh (June 25, 2008)

This is pretty much the only rap/metal combo that I can stomach, mostly because of De La Rocha's voice and lyrics. Although I wish that Inside Out had more albums, it's good that a band with something to say got some exposure.

cheesetits (June 24, 2008)

Wow, nostalgia trip. Best Rage cd, "Know Your Enemy" is also my favorite song. I'm not afraid to say I like this band, and I'm comfortable in my self esteem to say I am actually not also a douchebag, a rare combination. One of the few bands that went out on top in my opinion.

T-Rock (June 24, 2008)

This album is probably the most revolutionary, rebellious album that ever hit the mainstream. You can say a lot about RATM, but despite their mainstream success, they never pulled any punches. On any release. Every track on every album seemed to say something that would make politicians cringe.

BTW, if anybody wants to doubt their rebelliousness after this album, please watch the "Sleep Now In The Fire" video with Michael Moore. They play oustide of Wall Street and end up getting arrested. That was from the "Battle of LA" era. They were still as good as it gets.

sammyg (June 24, 2008)

This album is awesome but its raw and doesn't really showcase all the band can do. "No Shelter" has to be one of my favorite RATM song of all time and its from the Evil Empire days. That album, "Evil Empire" is damn fine and quite a focused, relentless, heavy record. Its amazing and is of higher quality than this, their first release. All three of their records are awesome. I would say they were on the rise until they stopped, all three albums are easily A efforts.

Dante3000 (June 24, 2008)

"Know your Enemy" is still my favorite RATM song.

chrisafi (June 24, 2008)

I agree, this is the best and most revolutionary Rage album in my opinion, hence me saying so.

baseball (June 24, 2008)

If you ask me, every subsequent RATM release did not match up to the previous one. This is one band I would definitely say started out at the top of their game.

thebigtakeover (June 24, 2008)

I'm not sure why so many people say that this album is better than battle of Los Angeles. It's probably because I got that one first, but I think all their other shit pales in comparison.

paulrulzdood (June 24, 2008)

this album was mindblowingly revolutionary in 1992 (yes, I did own it in 1992, I'm 28 now, this was one of the first musical leaps I made as a middle school kid graduating from a steady diet of hair metal to grunge and these dudes, Green Day and Offspring turned me on to punk, pop punk and politically charged music) and still holds up today, although not as well as Evil Empire or Batltle of LA.

The first 3 tracks, Know your enemy, wake up and Freedom are all amazing, lyrics, energy and think of the fucking context of when this shit came out. 1992...ok, Motley Crue were huge still, Nevermind was only a year old, rap rock was essentially unexplored territory other than Aerosmith/RunDMC "walk this way" and like "body count" I guess. mainstream rap rock was unheard of, music was in a transition from 80's hair metal to 90's grunge and RATM just burst out of nowwhere with politcally charged socially aware angry raps over Zeppelin esque classic guitar riffs with a grunge tinge. It was perfect and revolutionary, it was so new and it blew my mind. It's probably still my favorite RATM album and while some songs (know your enemy) are painfully played out now, I can still recall when "fuck you I won't do what you tell me" made me lose my shit. I was heavily into these guys throughout highschool and moved on in college to other styles of music and bands but my respect remains.

also, their lyrical content and attitude is much more punk than half the bands reported on this site. I mean what the fuck do the Shins have to do with punk? I'm just sayin. Or Wolf Parade? Ok, its called punknews.org not coffeshopshoegazers.corg.


blip (June 24, 2008)

So, I'd rather read a review of an album that I have had the chance to listen to for 15 years or so, than anything that came out today?

Well, there's 9 others, perhaps you could click one of those first instead of being a little bitch.

RightLaneEnds (June 24, 2008)

So, I'd rather read a review of an album that I have had the chance to listen to for 15 years or so, than anything that came out today?

blip (June 24, 2008)

great album, though i feel like EE might have been their best. but maybe that's just cause i bought it first.

baseball (June 24, 2008)

This album still rocks. I remember learning so much of this on my guitar like 10 years ago.

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