Rage Against the Machine – “The Battle of Los Angeles”
“The Battle of Los Angeles” is perhaps the best album by Rage Against the Machine, and it marks the peak of their history, considering they disbanded the following year.
“The Battle of Los Angeles” consists of Zack de la Rocha’s rap-influenced vocals blended with Tom Morello’s innovative and neat guitar lines. I could spend this whole review just talking about Morello’s guitar playing; it has changed how I – and millions of others – view the instrument. Simply put, Morello often uses these strange techniques on this album, and uses them to his advantage. He employs the classic kill switch toggle effect in many of his solos, and even has a harmonica-style solo in “Guerrilla Radio.”
Perhaps the most curious track on the album, “Ashes in the Fall,” has a unique guitar intro. It’s a great song, but I am bewildered by exactly how Morello manipulates his guitar to produce such a cool sound. As always, the bass and drums were great, and Tim Commerford’s bass playing was even featured as a intro to the epic track “Calm Like a Bomb.” Overall, outstanding performances by all.
The album displays Rage’s signature anger and activism. De la Rocha vividly and graphically portrays images of the wars and domestic violence, occurring both nationally and internationally, through his lyrics. Like any Rage album, the lyrics are meaningful and charged. “Mic Check” is quiet in comparison to the rest of the tracks, but it still has that Rage feel that makes it awesome.
The album comes with four singles: “Testify,” “Guerrilla Radio,” “Calm Like a Bomb,” and “Sleep Now in the Fire.” “Guerrilla Radio” is now often considered the band’s most widely known song, and it still dominates the radio today.
“The Battle of Los Angeles” is a great album, second only to their self-titled debut. It remains one of my all-time favorites and defines who Rage Against the Machine is.