Prophets Of Rage review by Prophets of Rage

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  • Released: Sep 15, 2017
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.7 Good
  • Users' score: 4.7 (41 votes)
Prophets of Rage: Prophets Of Rage
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Sound — 8
Many in America had wished for the reunion of Rage Against the Machine since their breakup in 2000, the sentiment especially flaring up at numerous points in the 21st century. Whether it was the 2008 financial crisis, the rise of Occupy Wall Street in 2011, Edward Snowden letting the public know about the NSA's massive domestic spying programs, or other politically-charged events, there was always someone to say with a wistful aggravation, "this would be a perfect time for a new Rage album."

But the event that would finally summon the band back to formation was one that Rage Against the Machine satirically foretold in one of their own music videos - the rise of Donald Trump's presidential campaign that had, astoundingly, resulted in winning the election. At this point, it was basically a call of duty for the band to get back together, though the reformation is not wholly complete: Zack De La Rocha is the missing fourth member of this revamped group of guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk. In his place, however, the band has recruited Public Enemy's Chuck D and Cypress Hill's B-Real, establishing the band's new iteration, Prophets of Rage.

Having worked as this supergroup since last year, releasing their debut EP, "The Party's Over," as well as performing in Cleveland during the RNC as a demonstration against Trump's nomination, Prophets of Rage release their self-titled debut album, which is as close to that long-anticipated fifth RATM album as anyone's going to get. And instrumentally, POR pick the torch back up nicely. Along with Commerford's bass grooves and Wilk's syncopated drumbeats paving the way nicely throughout, one can find a handful of nods to classic RATM moments in Morello's signature oddball guitar noises. His scratching technique appears in the guitar solo of "Hail To The Chief," the sirening tones used in "Fired A Shot" throws back to "Ashes In The Fall," the delay-laden guitar solo in "Smashit" is reminiscent of his guitar solo in "Calm Like A Bomb," and the noisy, choppy guitar sounds in the guitar solo in "Unfuck The World" sounds like a faster, stronger version of his guitar solo in "Without A Face."

While the throwback factor of "Prophets of Rage" is a big one, it doesn't keep the band from offering new tricks. Classic rock influences manifest in parts of the album, whether in the bluesy main riff of "Smashit," or the talkbox effect used in "Legalize Me," and they also mash up some of that classic rock pull-off riffing with an unexpected dose of funk rock in "Take Me Higher." Morello also whips up some new crazy guitar moments, whether it's the multi-faceted pedal fest in his guitar solo in "Radical Eyes," or making his guitar sound like a spaceship laser in "Who Owns Who," which are bound to inspire gearheads to do their best to reverse-engineer Morello's enigmatic ingenuity.

Lyrics — 7
As dual vocalists, Chuck D maintains a consistent medium throughout "Prophets of Rage" while B-Real has his ups and downs - while his speedier flow in "Hail To The Chief" is one of the most captivating verses on the album, other songs like "Legalize Me" hamper his voice with effects. And the two also have their own throwback moment in "Take Me Higher," with the first verse and bridge using the same vocal pattern as LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out," though it feels more like an unambitious recycling of ideas rather than nifty homage.

But for the most part, Chuck D and B-Real's lyrics in "Prophets of Rage" meet the politically-charged bar of expectations. Whether addressing long-established issues, like the military-industrial complex ("Bombs droppin on cities where kids play / Soldiers fallin' in the name of freedom hey / Civilians buried in the rubble where dreams die / Politicians spew lie after fuckin lie" in "Unfuck The World"), widespread homelessness in America ("Four sharing one tent / Can't afford no rent / Forgotten by the government" in "Living On The 110"), or referring to recent events, like the 2016 election ("They say what they must / To gain our trust / But once the ballot's cast, they forget about us" in "Smashit"), and the DAPL protest at the Standing Rock Indian Preservation ("Standing on a rock / Staring at the cop / With the hose in hand / Fire water hit the fuckin flock / We don't want no pipeline / Injustice of our life time" in "Strength In Numbers"), Chuck D and B-Real are forthright in their political dissent. Though they're certainly up to par, their forces combined still can't one-up the incendiary energy of Zack De La Rocha.

Overall Impression — 8
As the highly-anticipated return of an influential band in American rock music, both in terms of sound and lyrical substance, Prophets of Rage don't overthink their comeback on their debut self-titled album. While some moments focus on bringing a few new things to the table, the majority of the album is simply set on tapping back into the innovative, sonically wonky alternative rock that helped make RATM an iconic name in the first place. Even after all this time, "Prophets of Rage" proves that Rage still got it.



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26 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Hexagram88
    While Rage Against the Machine had an element of unrefined angst, this release is a far cry from the original band and falls completely in line with what one would expect from those in the "system" telling how the "system" is ruining it for everyone else. It's ironic that the same guys working hard to make a living making music are the same ones telling you that those who work hard making a living in any other area of the market are not permitted to keep their share.
    Funnyname99
    A fair point, - but musicians promoting social awareness are not the same as the PR team for Monsanto, or the head of strategy for JP Morgan.  Not every rich man is an ill-gotten rich man. 
    joe01522
    If you can get rich by selling albums and playing shows then good on you. For me the lyrics just don’t seem as well thought out and intelligent as RATM songs, and that’s where the lyrics are lost.
    joe01522
    I’ve had another few listens and I actually really like it. Still think some of the lyrics are a bit weak, but it’s a fun album.
    unjo88
    Agreed 110%. At first it was really mediocre but with repeat listen throughs it gets better. I don't care much for the lyrics in "unfuck the world", musically its one of their best but it definitely feels watered down. Hail to the Chief though is on point!
    ivan-v-nebenan
    It is also ironic that the RATM or Audioslave (featuring RATM minus Zakk) tabs are being banned on UG from time to time. Never had this experience with any other artist. BTW, if they protest against capitalism, well, then they should be against copyright too. And put themselves in prison, since in their Marxist wonderland no free speech and expression via arts exists :lol:
    FranzZipper
    There is a difference between making a record, where the majority of the income goes to areas other than the artist and charging for water or food or fuel at exorbitant prices. 
    MurphySanders7
    This band really blows
    rufizonfire
    I sooooo wanted this to be good, but the 1st time I listened to it I thought, "Did some nerdy computer geek just spend hours editing old RATM/PE/CH albums to put this together?" Because that's exactly what it sounds like. Nothing new at all sadly.
    fras1788
    Everytime I listen to prophets of rage it makes me sad knowing that these riffs are wasted without Zack De La Rocha
    RedLabelRecords
    Legalize me is the gem here in my opinion. Though I gotta admit, it sounds more like an Audioslave song off their third album.  It's not RATM. It's Prophets of Rage. Good thing they changed the name of the band. It's not the same without Zack.
    Funnyname99
    The problem is, - they don't sound angry.  I watch the news for five minutes and I get supremely fucked off. And Rage'esc chug rhythms fill my head. Shame I don't have the exposure that these guys have, - because I've got the rage they're missing. 
    HugoPan
    nah, I am done with this hal-assed, communist cock-sucking music. I can ignore certain ideologies that are contrary to mine(to an extent, don't expect me to listen to nazi black-metal), but the music must be good. and, while I listened to this album, all I could think it that "this could be a great RATM comeback album, but instead we are stuck with this subpar release". maybe the next one is better? I surely won't keep an eye on them, but hope for a better release if this project continues.
    scottishmob
    Hey now - some of that Nazi Black Metal is pretty good. If you want you could just listen to it on youtube - at least that doesn't really benefit the creators.
    imbatman1312
    I think it depends if it's just white supremacist undertones or full on Jew-bashing Nazi overdrive tunes. I can stand some questionable lyrics, but not a full song of fascist crap.
    Emenius Sleepus
    Music > ideology. All bands that have it in reverse, regardless of their affiliations, are utter shit, since art comes secondary to whatever they're preaching. 
    HugoPan
    Yeah, as long as the lyrical content is not that nazi bullshit( some bands don't play or sing about these themes all the time, but members openly support it ), I sometimes that.
    Candlewolf
    This sentence made my head hurt: Prophets of Rage don't overthink their comeback on their debut self-titled album. You can only debut once.
    Linken-01
    Saw these guys live last year in August , they were absolutely amazing !!
    ivan-v-nebenan
    The "protest" content of this music is so predictable that it is boring. The last time the three RATM really shone musically was Audioslave. With Cornell, they concentrated on music not on protest as  an end in itself. Love guitar on Unfuck the world, though.
    slizewskil
    The problem is that Zack is Zack, and nobody else is. Believe me, I WANTED Zack to come back way more than Chuck D or B Real. I like Cypress Hill and Public Enemy, but the combo of all 3 leaves something to be desired. The reality I've come to accept, is that I want to hear RATM songs played live, they'll be played in this format. Something is better than nothing, and the album itself isn't bad. It's just difficult when RATM had so many good albums that it almost overshadows anything else Brad, Tim, and Tom will ever do. The only way to recreate that energy, sound, and energy that RATM had, is to have all 4 of the members of RATM.
    Amito
      ‘Prophets of Rage’ is the debut album from the supergroup, following on from their 2016 EP ‘The Party’s Over’. The band contains the musical powerhouse from Rage Against the Machine (Tom Morello guitar, Timmy C bass, Brad Wilk drums) as well as the legendary B-Real from Cypress Hill and the revolutionary Chuck D & DJ Lord from Public Enemy. The album opens with track ‘Radical Eyes’. Chuck D explained the song’s meaning: “the Western world has created biased structures and stereotypes. Opposing viewpoints and movements are seen as radical rather than diversity,” he said. “‘Radical Eyes’ is the lens everything is viewed through, any life movement in opposition is considered radicalized.” Then we have lead single ‘Unfuck the World’, a heavy and direct anthem which touches on subjects of current affairs. A track similar in the vein to RATM’s ‘Killing in the Name’. The third track has quite a poppy-funk sound to it, which talks about legalising a certain substance. No guesses as to who took lead in writing that one Dr. Greenthumb. ‘Living on the 110’ is a track that confronts economic inequality in America. Tom Morello explained: “The 110 is a freeway in Los Angeles and living beneath it are thousands of homeless people. Bentleys and Rolls Royces roaring by are literally driving on top of the poor and their makeshift homes, a picture-perfect analogy for the grotesque economic inequality that plagues our times.” It also contains the chorus being played with a bow on the guitar. ‘Hail to the Chief’ is another standout track, which features a guitar-DJ battle between Morello & Lord. B-Real’s flow on this track is very reminiscent of Jay-Z. ‘Strength in Numbers’ has a feel of ‘Bulls on Parade’ to it, with a ferocious opening guitar riff. Guitarist Tom Morello described this track as a call for unity in troubled times. He explained: “we stand together or we fall apart. The world is in chaos, but if we’re gonna go down we’re gonna go down together… and we’re gonna go down swinging. The question remains: can we be as united in the streets as we are in the mosh pit? Let’s find out.” ‘Who Owns Who’ sounds like it could’ve been on Rage Against the Machine’s 1996 sophomore album ‘Evil Empire’, with flashbacks to their instrumental style at the time. You cannot help but think what this track would sound like with RATM vocalist Zack de la Rocha on it. Overall this album is a solid effort, the instrumental’s are on par with RATM’s previous efforts, with Morello still busting out unique sounds that have not been heard before. The vocal delivery between Chuck & B-Real is tight, with some amazing flow at parts. Lyrically it’s on point, albeit being a lot more direct than the music of RATM. Subtlety is not  a strong point with the lyrics, going for a more direct approach as apposed to hiding behind clever metaphors. A must listen for any fans of RATM, Public Enemy, Cypress Hill or rap-metal. 4/5
    vppark2
    Not sure what is worse, this album or the dreadful new Stray From The Path album.