DECEMBER 1999 | VOL. 3, NO. 12


Review: Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine's Irresponsible Criminal Support

Rock's Girls and Boys Indulge Their "Deepest" Diary Doodlings

Stone Temple Pilots, 311, Dream Theater


Sound Bites

December 7

"Being John Malkovich" - Original Soundtrack

"Deuce Bigalow - Male Gigolo" - Original Soundtrack

Sheryl Crow - "Live"

L'il Kim - "Notorious K.I.M."

Notorious B.I.G. - "Born Again"

December 14

"Man on the Moon" - Original Soundtrack

"The Green Mile" - Original Soundtrack

December 28

Jay-Z - "Volume 3: The Life and Times of Shawn Carter"

January 4

"On Any Given Sunday" - Original Soundtrack

- © 1999 ICE Online
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Rage Against Everything

Rage Against the Machine - The Battle of Los Angeles
The Battle of Los Angeles

12 Tracks | Running time: 45:16

Rating: A-


For once, right-wing conservatives and Tipper Gore may agree on something: their dislike, possibly hatred, of Rage Against the Machine. Throughout their short, but controversial career, Rage has defiantly given the finger--and in the case of Gore's PMRC, shamelessly displayed another unit--to American establishment, bringing musical rebellion to a level that is, thankfully, infrequently reached. Exposed penises (a silent, perverse protest to the PMRC at Lollapolooza) and all, rock has missed them.

To the thrill of the rebellious teen and fans of groove-based music alike, the band everyone loves to hate released The Battle of Los Angeles after a three-year absence and never missed a beat (or a governmental target). Amplified by the angry, incendiary lyrics of frontman Zack de la Rocha, the band remains extraordinarily controversial as evident in the content of their web site and their active support of death-row convict Mumia Abu-Jamal. On "Guerrilla Radio," "Mic Check," and "Voice of the Voiceless" Rage reigns again as the champion of their self-anointed underdogs. They act as protectors of the shit-upon, discriminated-against underbelly of American capitalist society--at least in their ambitious eyes.

Like them or not, you have to hand it de la Rocha and crew: they are educated and are taking advantage of their musical talents to raise awareness for their adopted causes. Such influence can be disturbing, to say the least, as witnessed in Worchester, MA as the naive sheep who worship the band casually spit out opinions that aren't theirs. Though, while RATM's music is chock full of attacking, militant themes, you get the feeling that they support the education of the masses not a universal brainwashing. In "Testify" de la Rocha asks "Who controls the present now?" in a call for voices to be heard--in other words, don't hide your opinions, testify, regardless of your beliefs.

One does have to wonder if Rage takes their message and politicking too far. On "Calm Like A Bomb," de la Rocha raps "Tha pulse of tha condemned sound off America's demise," denouncing the future of a country that, ironically, through it's Bill of Rights, allows Rage to make money criticizing it. They would be hard pressed to take such a hard-line, almost anarchist, stance in virtually any other country without recourse. But the country they are criticizing for being a military-like, cop-ruled state ("whose curled 'neath tha shadows from the gaze of the cops"), actually allows them a rather potent voice. Talk about irony.

If it's possible to look past their politics, one finds Rage very accomplished musicians. They were the original rock-rap hybrid, long before Korn and Limp Bizkit were even close to signing record contracts, playing Woodstock and heading record companies. While de la Rocha's pissed vocals are the obvious fire, the bombastic rhythm section of Brad Wilk (drums) and y.tim.K. (bass), who has some bizarre need to change monikers with every album, is the fuel that keeps things burning. The pair expertly drives the band with hip-hop inspired beats flavored by extremely funky accents and breaks. Simply put, you will catch your foot keeping time even as de la Rocha piles guilt upon all of white America for its rampant crimes against humanity.

The Battle of Los Angeles impresses as even more musical growth in the career of Rage. More so than before, guitarist Tom Morello looks beyond distortion to help punctuate the lyrics with soulful melodies weaving beneath and around everything else. Always an accomplished technician, Morello breathes life into the music, providing the perfect melodic counterbalance to de la Rocha's chaos.

As a complete package of intelligence (however misguided), deep tradition-laden grooves and surprisingly potent melodies, Rage Against the Machine's third offer is their best yet. Rock music thanks them; conservatives and the PMRC cringe.


KEVIN RIDOLFI, of Pawtucket, RI, is the creator and editor of Renaissance Online Magazine. He can be reached at

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