Rage Against the Machine
The Battle of Los Angeles
This is hard rock the way it should be played at the end of the century.
Full of spit and venom, the third album of fire-fueled aggression from Rage Against the Machine is packed with muscle and loaded with lyrics that are light years beyond what almost any other act in the genre is laying down these days.
The set kicks in immediately with the devastating “Testify,” a scorching rock 'n' roll track with a hip-hop edge. With Tom Morello's Hendrix-styled wah-wah guitar layers crashing into Brad Wilk's massive backbeat, singer Zack de la Rocha delivers a stinging indictment of the news media's alleged attempts to soft-sell war and other atrocities as mainstream entertainment.
If that sounds like a non-traditional lyrical theme in 1999, it's just the start. Straying far from the typical lightweight mutterings of the moment, de la Rocha offers heavily politicized tales referencing everything from downtrodden Mexican peasants and unemployed factory workers to corrupt landlords, deviant clergy members and jailed Black Panthers.
It's a dizzying combination, and when the full force of the band ignites on songs like the riff-driven “Sleep Now in the Fire” and “Ashes in the Fall,” the effect is spine tingling.
There are a lot of acts making a lot of noise right now (think Limp Bizkit), but few making it with such deep-rooted conviction as Rage Against the Machine. This one's a leading contender for album of the year.