on March 25, 2000
Rage Against The Machine, in only three albums, has achieved the balance they've needed. Previously, their heavy messages and their particularly heavy music have clashed, with one drowning out the other in about half of their songs.
But "Battle" changes that. The music has much more variety than previous albums. "Calm Like a Bomb" has some ridiculous guitar work, as does "Voice of the Voiceless," a call of the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal. "Sleep Now In The Fire," the current single, is an almost straight-ahead rock tune, and pretty darn catchy.
Tom Morello is in peak form on "Battle," creating some insane sounds out of his guitars, such as the 'guitarmonica' solo on "Guerilla Radio" or some Tom-knows-what feedback on "Mic Check." Lyricist Zach De La Rocha screams along with his music with feeling not found too often. Their bassist, under the mocking psuedonym "Y.tim.K" shows off his talent quite often, as does drummer Brad Wilk.
Once again, RATM can make the claim that "All sounds [are] made by guitar, bass, drums, and vocals" only. Listen through this album and gasp at that achievement; it doesn't sound like it came easily. Overall this album is a worthy addition to any Rage fan's collection, and hopefully the thought-provoking messages and powerful music will draw in many new fans for such a deserving band.
on March 28, 2006
I'll keep this short and sweet since, while I think this album was excellent, I don't view "The Battle of Los Angeles" to be the band's finest work. I think that's a toss-up between their debut and the nigh-perfect "Evil Empire." This band told it like it was, is, and will likely, unfortunately, continue to be each and every time they released an album.
However, this one digs into the band's favorite topics a little deeper and what it uncovers is hideous and depressing. From songs ranging about the destitution-to-desperation of the poor in Mexico ("Maria") to the us-against-them nature of abandoned/forgotten ethic groups/gangs in the inner city ("Born As Ghosts") to a song about one of their biggest causes, the freedom of (perhaps wrongly) convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and other so-called criminals that may be in the same boat ("Voice of the Voiceless"), this album doesn't relent until the CD ends.
However, the one track that has always stuck out in my mind as the glimpse behind the curtain to which all others should be compared is the masterful "Ashes in the Fall," perhaps the band's most gut-wrenching, soul-searing track in its entire career.
The song takes an unflinching look at poverty and the plight of the lower class, immigrants and homeless: the very people that the government should be taking care of that it instead allows to fend for themselves. Starving, desperate, abused, and neglected, these people see no other way out of their situation than resorting to violence and crime...actions for which they are arrested and imprisoned, if not killed outright. The song's most gripping moment is when Zach de la Rocha mockingly screams, "Ain't it funny how the factory doors close 'round the time that the school doors close? 'Round the time that the doors of the jail cell open up to greet you like the Reaper?"
In other words, while most children are entering/leaving school, the pvverty-stricken are walking into factories where they can be promised low wages and grueling work until the whistle blows. If not that, then finding trouble and expending what little life is left inside them in the confines of a prison cell. It is a bleak image and all too true in the darker corners of every city in the United States.
As others have said, the reference to the new sound being just like the old sound is a snide reminder to the listener that the grandiose speeches of the government's appointed representatives are just echoes of all that was said by those who came before them. And all the while, a voice can be heard in the undercurrent calling for the expulsion of all "non-natives" in favor of the so-called "chosen" people of God, a direct contradiction to everything the founders of the nation believed it should be about, according to the Constitution.
It is an exceptional song on the strength of its lyrics alone, but the band truly outdid itself with the music, from the high-pitched cry of the guitar to the soft rhthym of the bass during the build to the song's final crescendo.
I don't know if there's a human being that can listen to this song and not feel his or her soul quail in horror at the images it creates. If such a person exists, I hope we never meet.
on April 11, 2000
Rage Against The Machine may not be the most prolific band on the planet (three albums over the course of a decade) but the finished product always makes it worth the wait. On "The Battle Of Los Angeles", RATM's sound becomes refined and more eclectic - some songs like "Mic Check" and "Ashes Of The Fall" cover new territory for the band. It's true that they have lost some of the aggression of their other two albums, but they compensate with sonic variety and more insightful lyrics, and songs like "Born As Ghosts" and "Testify" wouldn't sound out of place on their first album. What puts RATM way ahead of many of their peers is that actually have a message and aren't merely "doing it for the nookie". Zack is very passionate about the Zapatista rebels and Mumia Abu-Jamal getting a fair trial (and freedom) and the lyrics on BOLA are the best he's written to date. My favorite songs on the album would have to be "Guerrilla Radio", "Calm Like A Bomb", "Born Of A Broken Man", and "Testify", though all of them are awesome. Highly recommended to fans of the rap/rock sound that are looking for something more lyric-intensive.
Rage Against the Machine is a band I only started listening to out of curiosity. I'd never heard any of their music, but I had gotten into Audioslave and wanted to see what these guys were like. Rage is a unique band in many ways. First off, this album (their final album, which was called Album of the Year by many Rock magazines; Even Time Magazine in fact) is amazing. Every song is good and not just in the sense, it's not bad. You can listen to each of these songs a few times over, there's not one track I'd skip over while listening to it. Tom Morello (who does stuff with a guitar that the best guitar players in the world couldn't do) is in top form; Tim Commerford cranks out some great basslines here (most notably in "Calm Like a Bomb"), and Brad Wilk is of course great. Zack De La Rocha's vocals and lyrics are very angry and very political here; He makes some genuine points though. That's one of the things I find most impressive about Rage. A lot of bands that do political songs, wind up with good lyrics and bad songs. It doesn't even matter if you're listening to the lyrics on this album; The music is still completely enjoyable. If you're looking to buy a really good CD, then get this. Here are the tracks and occasional in-depth commentary:
2. Guerilla Radio-5/5-One of my favorite songs on the album.
3. Calm Like a Bomb-5/5-One of my favorite Rage songs. It's really catchy and you can't beat Tom Morrello's riffs.
4. Mic Check-5/5-I love the lyrics; I love the chorus. Great song.
5. Sleep Now in the Fire-5/5-The guitar riff in this song is awesome. As are the lyrics; One of my favorite songs on here.
6. Born of a Broken Man-5/5-Zack De La Rocha speaks the verses and then pours energy into the chorus. I know some people who don't like this song, I love it.
7. Born as Ghosts-5/5-My 2nd favorite song on the album.
9. Voice of the Voiceless-5/5-It's short, but it's a great song.
10. New Millenium Homes-5/5-This probably ties as my 2nd favorite song. It sounds a little like Bulls on Parade, but the lyrics and music are awesome.
11. Ashes in the Fall-5/5-The music is awesome. De La Rocha whispering "Like ashes in the fall" is kind of creepy; Angry lyrics that definitely get their point across.
12. War Within a Breath-5/5-And a very impressive album closer. Some of the best drumming is on this track.
on October 4, 2005
This album, the third from Rage Against the Machine, has long been one of my favorite C.D.'s, and it used to be THE favorite. Every band member--especially guitarist Tom Morello and vocalist Zach de la Rocha-- are at the top of their game, here, and this C.D. just sounds awesome! "The Battle of Los Angeles" is possibly Rage's heaviest and angriest effort, and almost every song is a hit. It's hard to pick best songs, but the radio hit "Guerilla Radio" (which has great riffs, angry rapping, and lots of yelling), "Testify," "Calm Like a Bomb," "Ashes in the Fall" (which is a song where Zach builds from a whisper to a yell), "War Within a Breath," and my personal favorite, "Sleep Now In the Fire" stand out the most. Most of the song structures are the same (with Tom Morello making hip-hop sound effects for Zach de la Rocha to rap over in the verses, and Tom plays bigger, chunkier riffs in the choruses), but when the album sounds this great, how can you complain? This album, which Spin Magazine listed as one of the best C.D.'s of the last 20 years, is also (of course) lyrically very powerful. Zach was always a great vocalist, and an even better lyricist; he could rap in a way that would force you to hang on to every word. "Guerilla Radio" battles Al Gore, whereas "Sleep Now In the Fire" is about government greed, "Testify" is about a whitness testifying in court, "Born As Ghosts" rhymes about children becoming soldiers and fighting in war, and "Ashes In the Fall" takes on religious hypocrisy. This is, in my opinion, this group's finest hour. Tom Morello's crazy guitar noise makes every song sound awesome, and Zach's lyrical strength and bold political statements makes this album relevant and timeless, even several years after its release. Sadly, however, "Battle of Los Angeles" would be Rage Against the Machine's last album of new material (2000's "Renegades" was a covers album.) Well, at least they went out on top!
on May 18, 2000
The Battle of Los Angeles is the equivalent of a musical machine gun. Once it kicks in, there's no stopping it - relentless, uncompromising, and seizing the epitome of rap/metal's edgy essence. "Anger is a gift." Zack de la Rocha, the fanatic frontman of Rage hissed on their 1992 self-titled. Well, Rage Against the Machine have been blessed with a tremendous gift and they push their gift to its bursting limits on The Battle of Los Angeles. If their self-titled was a dynamite, The Battle of Los Angeles slams like an atomic bomb clearing all opposition out of the way. This is to Rage, as Fear of A Black Planet was to Public Enemy. And Rage Against the Machine rock the political arena with an equal ferocity and conviction as Chuck D. and the gang. Gone are the frills of album-fillers from Rage's hip-hop/metal funk peers, but drills forward with the momentum of a semi-truck, not once letting up on the visceral sound or energy. Its immediate and in-your-face music. This makes rap/metal all the more of an effective tool for de la Rocha's rapid spit-fire vocals and Morello's guitar work. Musically aside, The Battle of Los Angeles leaps bounds lyrically. "Where burning batons beat the freezing who shake/Under toxic sunsets they dine and toast/Their walls deny the terror faced by the children born as ghosts." Zack de la Rocha whispers fashioning bleak, desolate images. The lyrical subject attacks specific political subjects ranging from Mumia, Leonard Peltier, and sweat shops large improvement from 1992's "Killing In The Name"'s defiant chorus. Zach de la Rocha's vocals are still the explosive spit-fire screaming raps, but on The Battle of Los Angeles, he drops to deathly menancing whispers conveying a sense of quiet urgency. The Battle of Los Angeles opens with a rising drum roll and de la Rocha's grunt kicks in "Testify", with Morello's paranoid guitar winding in the background. Morello's scratching, screeching, reeling guitar are the highlights of the songs, elevating Zack de la Rocha's solos to blazing, lofty heights. On "Mic Check", a haunting, bubbling guitar solo drapes stuttering vocals, only to follow in with fluttering bass lines and turntable-like guitar sounds, all dropping away to reveal a lonely twinkling guitar plinking dancing around Zack de la Rocha's vicious delivery. "Sleep Now In The Fire" is perhaps Morello's most convential guitar work, but nonetheless powerfully executed with de la Rocha's growling tortured entrance, driven by Brad Wilk's clattering drums. "Maria" is a dazzling display of Zack de la Rocha's vocal prowess as he weaves a frightening, bone-chilling story of a sweat-shop workers who meets a tragic, terrifying death. Reading through "Maria"'s lyrics, you don't believe that anyone could pull it off, but Zack de la Rocha does with convicing reality as well. Even at the end of the album, "War Within a Breath" doesn't let up, and by the time the album ends you're head is pounding ,your blood is rushing, and your palms are sweaty. And you're ready for more. The victory of this battle goes to Rage Against the Machine.
on December 9, 1999
Let me start off by saying that this is my first Rage album I owned, although I did listen to Evil Empire. So I am judging this by itself, not agaist other albums. Okey, first off this album is great! It has got some really rockin' songs such as Testify, Calm like a Bomb, Sleep Now in the Fire, and Born of a Broken Man(amazing chrous). It also has the song that everyone has probobly heard, Gurilla Radio. This song is great, with Tom Morrelo proving is is truly one of the best guitar players of the 90's. This song also mentions alot of different political aspects, such as Free Mumia. Another song where they show their versitility is on mic check, which is almost like an old school rap song, that still rules. Zach de la Rocha's (The proclaimed Anti-Myth Rhythem Rock Shocker) vocals are top notch, ranging from the shouts(Now Testify!), to the funkier(Gurilla Radio) to the low(The verses of Born of a Broken man). Tom Morrelo makes sounds that I never knew were ever possible on a guitar, and Y tim K and Brad Wilks make up the rhythem section, with powerful bass and drum beat, especially on Guirilla Radio. All in all this album features hard tunes, political lyrics, and amazing instruments. Buy it right now!
on December 28, 2004
I've only been seriously listening to music for about 4 years, and Rage Against the Machine were one of the very first bands that I really got into. Since that time, however, I've moved away from alt-rock or alt-metal almost entirely, listening to more traditional and lesser known varieties of metal. I still considered RATM to be one of my favorite bands, but I hadn't carefully listened to one of their albums in a very long time, so I decided to go examine their catalogue more carefully. I was kinda worried that they wouldn't completely hold-up, but it turns out that I like them better than ever before. They play off of each other perfectly, Tom is still an amazing and creative guitarist, Zack is one of the most intense vocalists around, and Tim and Brad are a brilliant rhythm team. I've had this cd longer than any other one currently in my collection, I believe, but listening to it yesterday it was still as alive and exciting to listen to as ever.
Most people tend to think of the debut as their best album, and for the longest I would've agreed, but I now think this album is their best. The debut is perhaps slighter stronger on a song to song basis, but the greater variety of sounds on 'The Battle of Los Angeles' makes it a more interesting and satisfying listen, taken as a whole. Here RATM have tightened up their attack a bit, with shorter songs than on the debut, and more focused songwriting than on 'Evil Empire'. Normally I like when bands stretch out a bit, but I think that the sharper, conciser form fits RATM best. Stylistically, they've opened things up some as well, tracks like the particularly bass-intensive 'Mic Check' and the eerie, clanging 'Born as Ghosts' being little like anything they've recorded up to this point. Nothing on this album is anywhere close to bad, but 'Voice of the Voiceless' is definitely the weakest track. It's still good enough that it ought to be on the album, I think. It's got plenty of classics, too. 'Testify' 'Guerilla Radio' and 'Sleep Now in the Fire' recall the debut's tracks, but in a looser, less metallic form, and they all rock plenty hard.(And, they showcase Morello's penchant for very groove-intensive, but still energetic riffwork, and some innovative sounds. i.e. the howling, metallic wind used for the 'Testify' verses) 'Calm Like a Bomb' has got lots of great basswork, and perhaps Zack's best vox on the album.(Zack's always great vocals are better on 'The Battle of Los Angeles' than on any of their other albums, imo) 'Born as Ghosts' is a very eerie piece, with truly fierce buzzsaw guitars. 'New Millenium Homes' is one of the 'rappier' tracks on the album, and it grooves very well, and has a great pre-chorus/chorus. 'Ashes in the Fall' is a longer more atmospheric work, but it's still sharply written, with particularly strong dynamics, piercing guitar lines, and some of Zack's most enraged vox. 'Born of A Broken Man' is one of the best track album tracks, with ghostly, incredibly evocative guitarwork during the verses, and the best riff on the album, during the chorus. (I particularly like it when they reprise the main riff, in an incredibly trebly form, just before the final chorus. Best moment on the album)
Yes, great album here, equal or superior to anything you're likely to have heard on rock radio in the last 15 years.
on February 21, 2000
This cd is in my opinion the best Rage cd yet. Every song on this cd work together well and make it one of the greatest cds of the 90s. The extra song is No Shelter, which is a great song, but I don't know if it's worth 10 more bucks.
on December 23, 1999
RATM's explosion onto the music scene ushered in the unfortunate rise of nu-metalists (e.g. Limp Bizkit) who tap into that pit of despair called surburban angst. It can be argued that the Beastie Boys really made all of this happen. But that does not take away the value of the band--we can't discredit the brilliance of Nirvana because of the worthlessness of Candlebox. However, where the Korns of world stop, is where RATM begins. RATM has a sense of seriousness, credibility, and sincerity that the johnie-come-latelies do not. While being highly politically charged in lyrics, multi-ethnic in make-up, and uncompromisingly hard in sound, RATM distinguishes itself from the pack. This album has more features of a successful band (great production, electronic tweeking, etc.), and it does succeed beyond "Evil Empire", but it does not surpass the group's debut. Nonetheless, it is a fine, smart, and hard piece of work.