Sound — 10
RATM's twangy, hollow guitar sound makes them instantly identifiable to anyone familiar with the band. Tom Morello manages to create some pretty insane sounds on his guitars, mainly because he creates his own pedals. Some examples of his unique sounds come on Maria and Ashes in the Fall. By the way, have you ever listened to the end of Guerrilla Radio and heard a soft song playing in the background? That's actually a Korean radio station that Tom's custom distortion pedal was picking up. RATM tried to cut the track several times, but eventually just decided to leave the Korean station go on in the background. This album showcases the musical ability of Tom Morello in particular and RATM's unique sound.
Lyrics — 8
Zach de la Rocha again showcases his unique vocal abilities. His ability to make his screams seem musical, similar to Cobain's knack for musical screams, provides an element of individuality to the band if you didn't get it from the twangy guitars. The only knock on the lyrics in my opinion is on a few songs in particular Mic Check, the lyrics are really nonsensical. However, when there are great riffs in the background, it lessens the negative effect of these bad lyrics.
Overall Impression — 10
Personally, this is my favorite RATM album. However, The Battle of Los Angeles and their s/t albums both have about equal recognition as RATM's best album. Guerrilla Radio, Calm Like a Bomb, Sleep Now in the Fire, Born of a Broken Man, and Ashes in the Fall are my favorite songs from this CD. While I love the music, sometimes I dislike the political nature of RATM. However, as long as the music is rockin' I would definitely look past differing political views in favor of the music. If you are a Rage fan and do not have this CD, first throw a brick at your face and then go out and buy this CD immediately!