Sound — 8
It could only take a political shitstorm of this level to finally wake up the likes of Rage Against The Machine from their rest, albeit not in a fully united fashion. While former frontman Zack De La Rocha is gearing up for the release of his solo debut album come 2017, Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford joined forces with Cypress Hill's B-Real and Public Enemy's Chuck D to form Prophets Of Rage, showing most of the old band getting back in the politically-charged rap rock saddle once again, at a time when the USA could use some new soundtracks of resistance.
With Prophets Of Rage being one of the more pleasant surprises of the year, it also synched up with Commerford's newest punk project, Wakrat, quite nicely. Fronting the trio with guitarist Laurent Grangeon and drummer Mathias Wakrat (whom the band is named after), Commerford is poised to make a lot of rebellious lemonade with the abundance of lemons that 2016 has given.
In their debut self-titled album, Commerford doesn't treat Wakrat like an ego project made to put a constant spotlight on his bass playing, and each member shows their worth. Mathias's jazz-influenced drumming teems with energy in "Generation Fucked" and "The Thing," and though Commerford's standout riffing in "La Liberté ou la Mort" and "New Clear" isn't merely a repackaging of his funky bass style from his RATM days, Grangeon's guitar parts imitate the noisy likes of Morello's RATM days, heard in the dissonant "Nail in the Snail," the choppy guitar sounds in "The Thing," and the wah pedal usage in "La Liberté ou la Mort."
More than anything, though, the calling card for "Wakrat" is its emphasis on technically-conscious songwriting. The spiraling riffs in "The Number" and "Pigs in a Blanket" are one thing, but the tricky measurement shifts that are thrown about in numerous songs (like the 7/8 riffs in "Sober Addiction," the 10/4 chorus in "The Thing," and the scratchy 11/8 riffs in "Knucklehead") impressively show Wakrat always on their toes, eager to challenge the simple, straightforward drive of conventional punk music.
Lyrics — 6
As opposed to the brainy songwriting, Commerford's lyrics in "Wakrat" are as brash as can be. Wanting to express the pathological perpetuity of the USA's violent history and future ("We do a dance / Until it aches / Making an enemy / Out of everything" in "Generation Fucked"; "Swallow the lies, forget who's been slain / Rivers of blood, forget who overcame" in "Nail in the Snail"), Commerford accentuates this highlighting of bloodthirsty vices with a manic lyrical mindset and delivery in "The Number" ("I got nothing to say and I liked it / One dead, two dead, three million more motherfuckers dead"). However, this unhinged effort of swinging profane hooks like a madman overshoots the mark of angsty punk aggression in "The Thing" ("I can accept your space / But I fucking hate you face"), "Knucklehead" ("Gimme the gun, fuck the knife / Gimme the gun, I'm alright / Fuck the gun, gimme the knife"), and "Pigs in a Blanket" ("Fuck with me, yeah, fuck with me / Fuck with me and I'll kill you all"), devolving into unchained rage without any message to guide it anywhere.
Overall Impression — 8
While all the RATM fans may still be holding their breath for a full RATM reunion to happen with a long-awaited new album, it's refreshing to hear Commerford opt to take Wakrat in a musical direction that isn't a total facsimile of RATM's or Audioslave's sound. Being both raw and smartly composed, Wakrat's brand of punk hones the visceral energy key to its genre while deftly breaking the mold by constantly contorting its rhythms, resulting in a roller-coaster ride of an experience that whips the listener around at its own will.