Rage Against the Machine (also known as RATM or simply Rage) is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1991, the group consists of rapper and vocalist Zack de la Rocha, bassist and backing vocalist Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello, and drummer Brad Wilk. They draw inspiration from early heavy metal instrumentation, as well as hip hop acts such as Afrika Bambaataa, Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys, and Dutch crossover band Urban Dance Squad. Rage Against the Machine is well known for the members’ leftist and revolutionary political views.
Probably the first album to successfully merge the seemingly disparate sounds of rap and heavy metal, Rage Against the Machine‘s self-titled debut was groundbreaking enough when released in 1992, but many would argue that it has yet to be surpassed in terms of influence and sheer brilliance — though countless bands have certainly tried. This is probably because the uniquely combustible creative relationship between guitar wizard Tom Morello and literate rebel vocalist Zack de la Rocha could only burn this bright, this once. While the former’s roots in ’80s heavy metal shredding gave rise to an inimitable array of six-string acrobatics and rhythmic special effects (few of which anyone else has managed to replicate), the latter delivered meaningful rhymes with an emotionally charged conviction that suburban white boys of the ensuing nu-metal generation could never hope to touch. As a result, syncopated slabs of hard rock insurrection like “Bombtrack,” “Take the Power Back,” and “Know Your Enemy” were as instantly unforgettable as they were astonishing. Yet even they paled in comparison to veritable clinics in the art of slowly mounting tension such as “Settle for Nothing,” “Bullet in the Head,” and the particularly venomous “Wake Up” (where Morello revises Led Zeppelin‘s “Kashmir” riff for his own needs) — all of which finally exploded with awesome power and fury. And even listeners who were unable (or unwilling) to fully process the band’s unique clash of muscle and intellect were catered to, as RATM were able to convey their messages through stubborn repetition via the fundamental challenge of “Freedom” and their signature track, “Killing in the Name,” which would become a rallying cry of disenfranchisement, thanks to its relentlessly rebellious mantra of “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” Ultimately, if there’s any disappointment to be had with this near-perfect album, it’s that it still towers above subsequent efforts as the unequivocal climax of Rage Against the Machine‘s vision. As such, it remains absolutely essential.
“Know Your Enemy” features Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan on “additional vocals”, and also features Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins on trashcan percussion. Keenan has been known on occasion to appear onstage with the band to perform the song. The album cover features the self-immolation of Thích Quảng Đức that occurred on June 11, 1963.
1. “Bombtrack” – 4:04
2. “Killing in the Name” – 5:14
3. “Take the Power Back” – 5:37
4. “Settle for Nothing” – 4:48
5. “Bullet in the Head” – 5:07
6. “Know Your Enemy” (feat. Maynard James Keenan) – 4:55
7. “Wake Up” – 6:04
8. “Fistful of Steel” – 5:31
9. “Township Rebellion” – 5:24
10. “Freedom” – 6:06
All tracks written by Rage Against the Machine (Tim Commerford, Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Brad Wilk).
Rage Against the Machine
- Tim Commerford (credited as “Timmy C.”) – bass guitar, backing vocals, production, art direction
- Tom Morello – guitar, production, art direction
- Zack de la Rocha – vocals, production, art direction
- Brad Wilk – drums, percussion, production, art direction
- Maynard James Keenan – additional vocals on “Know Your Enemy”
- Stephen Perkins – additional percussion on “Know Your Enemy”
- Craig Doubet – assistant engineer
- Stan Katayama – engineer
- Nicky Lindeman – art direction
- Garth Richardson – production, engineering
- Jeff Sheehan – assistant engineer
- Steve Sisco – mixing assistant
- Andy Wallace – mixing
- Bob Ludwig – mastering (1992 CD and Vinyl)
Released: November 3, 1992
Recorded: April–May 1992 Studio Sound City, Van Nuys, CA, Scream Studios, Studio City, CA, Industrial Recording, North Hollywood, CA
Genre: Rap Metal, Funk Metal
Label – Epic Records