Tuesday, October 12, 2010

368. Rage Against the Machine. Big, loud, sweary and very very angry.

Album: Rage Against the Machine
Artist: Rage Against the Machine
Genre: Rage Against the Machine
Year: 1992


  1. Bombtrack
  2. Killing in the Name
  3. Take the Power Back
  4. Settle for Nothing
  5. Bullet in the Head
  6. Know Your Enemy
  7. Wake Up
  8. Fistful of Steel
  9. Township Rebellion
  10. Freedom

Sometimes I listen to albums and wonder why the singers are so angry. Rich and successful young men with fame, groupies, drugs and fleets of expensive cars shout a lot about how annoyed they are and rail against humanity in general. Rage sells and contentment doesn't. Rock tracks called "Goodness, isn't life super?" don't move off the shelves.

One of the angriest bands on the planet were Rage Against the Machine, who weren't just a bit teetchy and irritable they were driven by an incandescent ire and sulfurous fury which underpinned every song of every album. They're a stroppy bunch of disgruntled rock stars and for my money they're one of the greatest things to come out of nineties music. Their debut album screams out of your speakers from track one. It grabs you by the ears, slams your skull into the CD Player and shouts "how the hell can you just sit there?" directly into your face. It hammers you around the head with righteous indignation at the injustice of the world and leaves you breathless, educated and eager to take the ride all over again. It can only be listened to live or in the privacy of your own home. Playing it in public would incite riots and cause the overthrow of the established government- which is exactly what RATM were hoping for.

The most famous track on Rage is definitely Killing in the Name of, a single that took 17 years to get to number one on the UK charts. It's original release in 1992 saw English record buyers send it to number 25, below 24 other songs that were much safer in lyrical content and contained little to no actual swearing. In 2009 thanks to facebook, the internet and sheer bloody-mindedness it not only achieved the number one spot but managed it at Christmas, a time when the number one spot is "coveted" according to the ubiquitous phrase "The coveted number one spot." For several years the Christmas chart topper had been the exclusive domain of the winner of X-factor whose overblown and lifeless cover of a popular standard was cynically churned out by evil men in suits in an attempt to gain extra funds from their newly spawned cash-calf. Disgruntled bloggers (are there any other kind?) decided that enough was enough and they would mobilise the forces of the planet to buy Killing in the Name of and turn it into a surprise hit. The campaign worked and Rage against the Machine had a number one single almost two decades after it was released.

But Rage Against the Machine is more than just it's most famous single. There are lots of other great tracks on the album that run the full gamut of emotions from disparagingly annoyed to seethingly vengeful. It's proof that sometimes you can judge an album by it's cover. Rage Against the Machine features the famous photograph of a Vietnamese bhuddist monk protesting the war by setting himself on fire in public. It's a well chosen image- RATM are advocating the use of fire to achieve a more peaceful world. They're trying to ignite something and prepared to use whatever means necessary. A lesser band would just be annoying but Tom Morello and Rage are capable of turning anger into great music.

Highlight: Killing in the Name of
Lowlight: Township Rebellion

Influenced by: Rage. Rap and Metal
Influenced: Sadly lots of terrible bands who tried to combine metal chords with rap lyrics. Please stop now.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: These guys are terrible. They have absolutely no talent and they act really afeminite. This is music for the mindless. Even Sugar Ray is better than these guys!

-RATM act afeminite? Even if you had correctly spelled what I think you mean I'm still not sure I agree with you.

So are you Raging along with Rage or turning off your machine to enjoy the silence? Let me know below.


  1. Have 'Rage against the machine' ever released another album? If so, what did they call it?

  2. They released a few others, but this one is usually considered their best.

    A sidenote: "Wake Up" was used in the movie The Matrix.

  3. What a great review. I have never heard the album but on the strength of this review I think I will go outside now and set fire to something.