Rage Against the Machine

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About Rage Against the Machine

When rap-metal pioneers Rage Against the Machine exploded onto the scene—with manic guitars and incendiary rhymes blazing—they threatened to be one of the most destructive bands to penetrate America’s pop consciousness. Founded in Los Angeles in 1991, the band created a scorching brew of punk, funk, hip-hop, and metal that tapped into Gen X’s angst and directed grunge’s moody introspection outward—putting fear into authority and fire into the hearts of kids desperate to seek the source of their malaise. After guitarist Tom Morello’s metal band Lock Up and vocalist Zack de la Rocha’s hardcore group Inside Out called it quits, they joined drummer Brad Wilk and bassist Tim Commerford and began concocting thrashing, politically fueled tracks, which soon caught the attention of Epic Records. They signed with the label before releasing their chart-topping 1992 self-titled debut, featuring the defiant track “Killing in the Name.” Drawing from the fiery polemics of hip-hop pioneers Public Enemy, de la Rocha spit out vitriol with a cocky charisma as Morello pushed his guitar to the limits, loading it with squealing and squalling effects that ricochet off Commerford and Wilk’s throbbing rhythms. The quartet continued this momentum over three more albums, with big alternative hits like “Bulls On Parade” from 1996’s Evil Empire, “Testify” from 1999’s The Battle of Los Angeles, and the band’s rousing version of Afrika Bambaataa’s “Renegades of Funk” from 2000’s covers album Renegades. But internal struggles would eventually undo the group, and they officially called it quits in 2000. Still, Rage’s message remained patently relevant—throughout George W. Bush’s presidency (the main impetus for the band’s 2007 reunion) and then under Trump’s America (which brought them together again in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA, United States
August 1991
Hard Rock
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