Rage Against The Machine

Sure, I enjoy heavy metal, but sometimes the raw power and emotion feels forced. Not so with RATM, one of the angriest, aggravated, frustrated band's I've ever listened to. Their music carries such meaning with the sound, it hits you in the head, the heart, everywhere. An extremely politically active and progressive band, they sang about police violence, wage inequality, and Native American rights. Whether you agree or not with their lyrics and opinions, the feelings from their music are very clear.

The band consists of Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello (guitar), Tim Commerford (bass), and Brad Wilk (drums).

Like pretty much every other person who likes RATM, I started with "Killing in the Name" and it went downhill from there. I love the intensity of the bass and guitar, and the semi-intelligible screamed lyrics.

Nate's Epic RATM Playlist

  1. Killing in the Name (Rage Against the Machine 1992)
  2. War Within A Breath (The Battle of Los Angeles 1999)
  3. Know Your Enemy (Rage Against the Machine 1992)
  4. Sleep Now in the Fire (The Battle of Los Angeles 1999)
  5. Calm Like a Bomb (The Battle of Los Angeles 1999)
  6. Bombtrack (Rage Against the Machine 1992)
  7. Bulls on Parade (Evil Empire 1996)
  8. Testify (The Battle of Los Angeles 1999)
  9. People of the Sun (Evil Empire 1996)
  10. Born of a Broken Man (The Battle of Los Angeles 1999)
  11. Bullet in the Head (Rage Against the Machine 1992)

Rage Against The Machine (1992)


This first album put RATM squarely on the map as they declared they're here, they're angry, and they're not gonna put up with your BS.

Bombtrack: Your intro to RATM begins with a standard track with that heavy straightforward beat that has you rocking out before you know it.

Wake Up: Really like the trippy guitar interlude and the powerful intro.

Killing in the Name: Numero Uno RATM song. The song starts and goes to nothing, but with the sound of the cowbell, you know you're headed for trouble. The bass/guitar call/response is unforgettable, as is the song's main riff. Don't forget the iconic accusatory line "Some of those that work forces are the same that burn crosses" and of course the frustration-laded outro, filled with the repitition "**** you I won't do what ya tell me!" Hardcore.

Take the Power Back: I like the twanginess of the bass parts.

Bullet in the Head: This song has "swagger," I can't explain why it feels that way, but it does. The sounds of the chorus makes you wanna headbang. The song, as usual, has an excellent bassline.

Know Your Enemy: This may be my favorite intro of any RATM, kind of sad the entire song doesn't sound like it. But the pace picks up. The bridge with the lines "I've got no patience now... so sick of complacence, now..." has such a cool guitar solo, I think it may actually be better on the studio version (gasp). And who can forget the ending, where de la Rocha lists off some less-than-ideal qualities, then states "all of which are American dreams!"

Township Rebellion How often do you get a sick cowbell beat? Well, this song tops that list.

Freedom: I love the different bass parts and the song has a syncopated, almost Latin-ish feel at times. Don't ask why, but I like the line "Inka, inka, bottle of ink."

Evil Empire (1996)


This second album has some great hits, but doesn't reach the same heights as their eponymous album. Nonetheless, my favorite songs are "People of the Sun" and "Bulls on Parade."

People of the Sun: This song is extra-funky with that slappin' bass. The drums also come through extra crisp, with a little Red Hot Chili Peppers vibe.

Bulls on Parade: It's like "Killing in the Name" part 2. This song is angry with a killer bass riff. And I know nothing about guitars, but that guitar solo is awesome.

Revolver: This song has an almost dreamy quality to it for large chunks, then plenty of the usual RATM.

Live & Rare (1996)


An early live album, it features some of de la Rocha's thoughts on certain political situations. I think "Bombtrack" is the live highlight, really amplifying its vibe. Of course, no one can forget the absolutely ridiculous cover of NWA's "**** tha Police," which sounds kind of strange hearing the lyrics sung by de la Rocha.

The Battle of Los Angeles (1999)


This album is awesome, with some of my favorite lyrics out of any of their songs. My favorite songs include "Testify," "Sleep Now in the Fire," and "War Within a Breath."

Testify: This song is just loud, and that's awesome. I love the declarative course, "now testify!"

Guerilla Radio: Any time a song has a slow crescendo intro, you know I'm down. The song has a great guitar riff and dope solo, also in a RHCP vibe.

Calm Like a Bomb: This is another song where I'm not sure if I like the studio version better. I love the guitar with all the different bits and pieces, such as where it slides up the scale during the verses. Absolutely love the solo section, where everything just falls apart into cacophony towards the end.

Sleep Now in the Fire: This song is one of my favorites, as RATM demonstrates that they can deliver the same raw emotion without resorting to eardrum popping volume at all times. There's something wonderful about the staccato delivery at the start of the chorus, with "I am the Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria..."

Born of a Broken Man: Another song where the whispered lyrics of the verse contain as much power as those of the chorus. You can hear it with the line "praying for someone to turn off the light."

War Within a Breath: This song is alright on the album, but it gets massively amped up when live. I love the line "a rising sun / looming over Los Angeles." The bass and guitar absolutely kill it with the riffs.

Renegades (2000)


Eh, this album is alright, but doesn't really capture the same energy as the prior albums. There's a bunch of covers, which personally I usually like no matter the quality, but I don't think RATM is great as a cover band.

How Could I Just Kill a Man: A cover of Cypress Hill, it's weird in the same vibe as their prior NWA cover.

Street Fighting Man: You can barely tell this is a Rolling Stone cover, it sounds even weirder than their other covers. It completely gets rid of the chill vibe that the original has.

Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium (2003)


This has everything a live album should. It's pretty much a compilation of their hits, with every song taken up a notch. Normally the dials go to 11, but here they go to 12! There's not a ton of weird splicing or lots of talking, so you can just enjoy the tracks. The album opens with just the crowd cheering, and the anticipation builds before you get dropped straight into "Bulls on Parade." "Bullet in the Head" and "Bombtrack" have an extra level of swagger and posturing. Get your guitar fix with "Calm Like A Bomb," "No Shelter," and "Know Your Enemy," and bass fix on "Freedom" and "Sleep Now in the Fire." Note, there's no studio version of "No Shelter." My absolute favorite drum fill is right after the 1 minute mark in "War Within a Breath." This is what I listen to while driving in early to work in the mornings, the perfect way to wake up and get pumped.