Sound — 8
Zack de la Rocha truly has been silent too long. Even after so long a period without releasing material, it seems that de la Rocha has not lost his edge at all. He does have a new trick up his sleeve, however: he occasionally throws in some melodic singing on more than one occasion, although his vocals are still composed primarily of the hard-hitting rap-style vocals of Rage Against the Machine. The former drummer of The Mars Volta, Jon Theodore, makes a solid performance on this album, although his style differs a considerable amount from the fill-based, hyperactive drumming he produced with The Mars Volta. I would argue he does not drum to his full potential on this album. However, The key to this album is simplicity, with most of the tracks consisting of a drumline, some slightly distorded keyboards, and vocals. While Theodore's drumming is toned down quite a bit, it fits with the spirit of the album. I am reluctant to compare this band to The White Stripes on such tracks as Blue Orchid but the element of simplicity is undeniably similar. This album succeeds at taking a minimalistic approach to music, showing how music doesn't require a six-piece band.
Lyrics — 10
Well, it's Zack de la Rocha. I think everyone knew what to expect out of him, politically-fueled, activist lyrics that leave an impression on anyone who takes the time to listen to them. Favorite topics of de la Rocha can be found on this album: the feds, corruption and unfairness of the law, etc. The band says on their website that this album is based around a quote from a famous photograph that reads, "It is better to live one day as a lion, than a thousand years as a lamb". This underlying theme is present throughout all of the songs. As previously stated, tracks such as If You Fear Dying feature a change from rapping to actual melodic singing, which has almost never been done by Zack de la Rocha previously. De la Rocha's lyrics are as powerful (though arguably as controversial) as ever.
Overall Impression — 8
For Rage Against the Machine fans like myself, who have been mourning the break-up of RATM for years, this album serves as a hopeful reminder that Zack de la Rocha is still alive and kicking, even if it hasn't seemed like it. I realize I have compared this album to Rage Against the Machine's material much more than I have to The Mars Volta, but One Day as a Lion has a sound that will appeal to fans of the former rather than the latter. However, it is also nice to see the return of a phenomenal drummer such as Jon Theodore after leaving The Mars Volta. This EP left me with a desire to hear more from this band. Between Theodore and de la Rocha, this is an unstoppable creative force and I hope to hear them expand in many directions with any subsequent releases, specifically in Theodore's drumming. I mean, they work fine, but... c'mon, man. They have the potential to be much, much better than fine. So go buy it. It will feed your Rage Against the Machine appetite for a couple weeks.