Rage Against The Machine’s debut self-titled album was release on 3rd November 1992.
The album sets off with ‘Bombtrack’, one of the band’s heaviest songs. Morello’s introductory riff was claimed to be too heavy for his previous band Lock Up, so he took it with him when he joined RATM. The song dicusses social inequality and states how “landlords” are going to “burn”. The band were so impressed with their efforts that they named it ‘Bombtrack’ referring to “bomb” as ‘the greatest’.
The second album track ‘Killing In The Name’ is probably the most iconic of all RATM’s song due to its re-release as a single in 2009 in an effort to knock the X-Factor’s winner’s single off the top spot in the UK charts. The campaign was started by DJ Jon Morter and the single sold over 500,000 copies exclusively through download. The proceeds from the sales were given to the charity Shelter. When released originally in 1992, the single didn’t get a huge amount of airplay in the US due to the expletive nature of its lyrics (“F*** you I won’t do what you tell me”). Despite this it has received considerably airplay in Europe, driving the popularity of the band outside the US, with the uncensored version of the song has been played accidentally on several occasions on UK radio shows.
Fourth track ‘Settle For Nothing’ is probably the darkest moment on the album. The lyrics describe those who haven’t made the right choices in life due to lack of guidance and difficult upbringing and have settled for the consequences of their actions. The building of both the instrumentation and the vocals during the song adds to the darkness and anger making it one of the most memorable tracks off the album.
Fifth track ‘Bullet In The Head’ was the second single to be released from the album. The track displays another of Morello’s heavy riffs and using some of his most innovative guitar techniques. The lyrics refer to the bands belief that the government uses the media to control the population and draws comparisons between an average home and Alcatraz. It is probably one of the most well-known songs for portraying the activist nature of the band.
The heavy rap-metal nature continues coupled with de la Rocha’s angry lyrics opposing everything from government to society and war with tracks such as ‘Know Your Enemy’, ‘Township Rebellion’ and ‘Wake Up’. The opening riff of the latter is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’.
The closing track ‘Freedom’ was the last single to be released from the album. Again it speaks about the government and the control they exert on the population. Lyrics such as “anger is a gift” are whispered by de la Rocha before the rest of the lyrics are screamed out portraying the notion that if people didn’t get angry, no one would ever speak up about issues and the band is notoriously known for. The song is a powerful closer to a powerful album full of discontent and anger and the repetition of the “Freedom” at the end of the tracks lingers a while after the album finishes.
Commercially the album did well and was raised for its emotionally-charged lyrics and the successful combination of heavy metal and rap. The album reached number 1 in the UK album charts in 2009 after the re-release of ‘Killing In The Name’. The album received high praise from magazine’s such a Guitar World, Rolling Stone and Q and is a favourite of the former BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe.
Rage Against The Machine was released on 3rd November 1992 via Epic.