The first two albums of Rage Against the Machine were released in relatively quick succession. Perfectionism has caused the release of their third, "The Battle of Los Angeles", to be delayed quite a bit. Technically, therefore, is has become an excellent album. Guitarist Tom Morello once again coaxes totally unexpected sounds from his instrument, at times sounding rather like a pinball machine. "All sounds made by guitar, bass, drums, and vocals", it says on the back of the album. It's a good thing they said that, or else you'd think they have hired the services of a keyboardist...

So the album sounds good and Morello once more treats the ears to a miscellany of sounds never before heard coming from a guitar. But is the album any good besides that?

Don't expect a lot of change from this band. Singer Zak de la Rocha still gets angry at a lot of things, whether it be injustice to the American Indian or oppression of women. I find it amazing that he can stay angry that long - ever since 1991 or so, in fact. By now he must be a pretty wealthy guy who has very little reason to be angry at anything, but he is one of those individuals who can just as well get angry on behalf of others. And because there are plenty of things to rebel against in the world, I guess there will be enough inspiration to be found around us so that Rage Against the Machine can release quite a few other albums.

Musically they haven't changed much, either, though they are better musicians now. There are several drivingly catchy tunes on the album, including the openers "Testify" and "Guerilla Radio". In fact, most of the songs are well written anger vehicles, with the exception of "Mic Check" that is simply too staccato for my taste. Guitar-wise there are some climaxes in "Calm like a Bomb", "Born as Ghosts" and "Voice of the Voiceless". Some of them are quite unbelievable!

"The Battle of Los Angeles" will not disappoint anyone who liked the band's previous two albums. There's a lot of energy in the tracks, the lyrics radiate justified anger, and I personally think it's good that bands like Rage Against the Machine are there to jog our collective consciences.

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Written November 1999


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