Sound — 10
Released in late 1992, Rage Against the Machine's self-titled took the music scene by storm. Their sound is made up of funk-metal and rap-rock, blended with MC5's raw energy; keep in mind that this is nothing like what appeared in the late '90s (where corny white guys with skateboards whined about girls). Once I popped this CD into my stereo, a quiet, funky bassline turned into a direct explosion of sound; this CD begs to be played loud. I was amazed at how crisp the production is. It's very clean, but the production is never holding back the energy each instrument brings out. Tom Morello is a guitar genius; his solos are *not* conventional, and rely on funky melodies and unique use of effect pedals. While bassist Tim Commerford provides a funky rhythm, Tom simply adds to it, layering over the rhythms in traditional funk fashion and providing interesting effects (and making very liberal use of the Digitech Whammy pedal). The closest you'll hear to a convential solo is in "Bombtrack", but is anybody looking for conventional solos anymore? Drummer Brad Wilk keeps the beat and provides excellent fills, but his talents aren't put out on the forefront like the others.
Lyrics — 10
People are often turned off of the band because the lyrics, but if you have an open mind or like rap in the vein of Public Enemy, this will only enhance the album for you. Keep in mind that rapper Zack de la Rocha's lyrics can't be simplified as mindlessly "hating America"; he's very well educated and has the lyrics to prove it. He never fails to show his anger and contempt for the government, raging against the machine better than anybody ever has. Read the lyrics on the booklet and "listen" along if you want to know what this guy's ranting about, otherwise you might not get it. Indeed, he does swear, but these songs wouldn't have the same passion or anger without the swearing. "Screw you, I won't do what ya tell me" doesn't have as much of an affect on the ears. The lyrics align with the chaos of the music perfectly; Zack screams like a maniac and you will not find a single song where he doesn't sound pissed off. The only problem some might encounter is that he stays on a similar theme throughout the entire album, the injustices of government figures and social commentary. Really though, it's a welcome vacation from the love songs that plague radio. Zack never "sings", so don't expect to find a melody in anything he spits out. His high pitch, stern voice is something that many might have to get used to. But what you will find vocally is many dynamics he uses to match up with the instrumentation, from screams to whispers, all given a shiny gleam in the studio. And hell, guest vocalist Maynard James Keenan of Tool even provides his hypnotic vocals for the bridge of Know Your Enemy.
Overall Impression — 10
I've listen to several, several funk-metal bands (from Infectious Grooves and Red Hot Chili Peppers to Faith No More and Primus); in my opinion, the Rage Against the Machine self-titled album best represents both the funk-metal and rap-metal genre, having energy, instrumental mastery, and pure innovative wit. It's obvious they aimed for a unique sound when they released this CD. The strength of this album is in the line-up of great songs; the fourth song "Settle for Nothing" is the only slow song, and any energy lost is regained immediately afterwards during Bullet in the Head. On the seventh song, "Wake Up", the CD is almost brought to an energetic climax; this song is an epic, and every second of this six minute monster is put to good use. Many will recognize the booming intro riff as similar to the riff used in Led Zep's Kashmir, except this one's booming with distortion, and the guitar scratch with the beat during the verses while the bass plays the role of the guitar. This song never gets boring, and I have no idea how they hell they bring the song crashing to the skills; it sounds like all of the instruments are chaotic and off-tune, yet retain melody. I'd say the only bad aspect of this album is how the CD slows down and almost commits suicide after the epic "Wake Up"; it's a crime that the following three songs were positioned after it, since they're great songs, but much slower and more vocal oriented. The album stands up on two feet again once it reaches the chaotic boom of "Freedom", where it sounds like the band destroys their instruments in a fury. I recommend this to anybody who has a love for rock or guitars. As stated in the booklet, the effects and music made are all created by guitar, drums, bass and vocals; nothing's manufactured, nothing's fake. All in all, I'd definitely buy another if this was stolen or lost, but I always keep the original somewhere safe and listen to burned copies; I'll be damned if I scratch this masterpiece.