Music Review: ‘Rage Against the Machine’


Kolja Westhues, Journalist

Rage Against the Machine was a popular rap rock group that formed in the early 1990s. Throughout their career, they were known for commenting on different political issues though their music.

Rage Against the Machine’s first eponymous record is their best LP. In light of the band getting back together in 2019 and playing at Boston Calling in May, it is the perfect time to take a look back at this iconic album. I personally enjoy all of the songs on the record.

The opening track on the LP, titled “Bombtrack,” which gets the listener pumped up and angry. The heavy, unique, and screeching sound of Tom Morello’s guitar sets an energetic tone for what is to follow.

The second track and main single on the record, “Killing In The Name,” is a passionate plea against murder, covering issues like the death penalty and war.

Next up is “Take the Power Back,” one of my favorite tracks off the record. This song is about the corrupt and “Eurocentric” public schooling system in the United States. Lead singer Zack De La Rocha’s vocals perfectly encapsulate his rage at the education system.

Then comes “Settle For Nothing,” my least favorite song on the album. While some may enjoy it, it is too slow and understated for my liking.

The fifth track on the LP, “Bullet in the Head,” has the most recognizable bass line in any Rage song. The song allows Tim Commerford (the band’s bassist) to really shine.

“Know Your Enemy” exposes the hypocrisy of American freedom by bringing attention to the elitism that exists in government. The song features TOOL vocalist Maynard James Keenan and introduces a chant that is repeated throughout the album: “Fight the War, F*** the Norm.”

The seventh track “Wake Up” perfectly conveys Rage’s message of waking up to the corruption that surrounds us all. At the end of the song, Rocha screams “Wake Up!” eight times to capture the listener’s attention.

“Fistful of Steel” is one of the calmer tracks on the record, but still has an undertone of rage. The track is one of the first examples of Morello’s unique distortion style.

“Township Rebellion” reintroduces the chant from earlier in the record, “Fight the War, F*** the Norm.” This particular song has a much faster beat than the rest of the album, but features slower dramatic interludes. In the second half of the track, a loud scream conveys Rage’s anger perfectly.

The tenth and final track on the album, “Freedom,”caps off the record. In this track, the vocalist introduces a new chant–“Freedom, yeah right.” This refrain is repeated throughout the song, solidifying the band’s message that liberty is a lie.

Rage Against the Machine’s debut record is not only their best album, but also one of the definitive records of the modern era.

My final rating is a 5/5, and I recommend that people break free from their musical comfort zone to give it a listen.