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02 | Anger Is A Gift
Rage Against The Machine Self-titled
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Where for art thou Rage?

Man, if ever there were a time where the world could use a powerful rock band hellbent for social justice it's definitely now. Thinking back, the issues of the 90s seem down–right quaint compared to where we are today. Surely today's youth are pissed off at the previously unimaginable level of incompetence on display daily in the nation's capital and are in real need of fist–raised, screaming rallying cries with a heavy hardcore groove?

Instead Millennials seem to rally around Africa? By Toto?? To which my hardcore–punk soul turns its head sideways and lets out a confused "brugh?" like a dog hearing a strange sound. But then perhaps my rational–adult–father–of–teenagers mind understands that where my generation tried to make an impact through angst, disenfranchisement and unfiltered Camels, this generation is looking to make a real difference through way more powerful means: love, inclusion and unity. Terrible taste in music though. For real.

Anyway, imagine taking the riff laden core of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, soaking it in a thick bath of the 80s fury of Black Flag and Minor Threat, laying a jackhammering if–the–ChiliPeppers–got–pissed funk groove beneath it and the flowing fire of NWA and Public Enemy over the top. There had been less serious pairings of these types of elements in prior years—No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn, Aerosmith and RUN DMC, Anthrax's I'm The Man, and of course there was Public Enemy's epic sampling of the breakdown from Angel of Death. But nowhere had these pieces come together so purposefully with such direct and furious power. It was an explosion and stood in hard contrast to the (great but) inward–looking grunge bands of the time.

Don't call it ‘rap–metal’ or ‘rap–rock’ though. Yes, those elements are in there, but those cringy terms sell short the incredible musicianship and willingness to smash through norms of sound and song structure. Tom Morello's reverent, infectiously catchy riffs and dedication to forcing unfound, unnatural sounds out his guitar pushed the boundaries of rock in a way they haven't been pushed since.

But it's Zack de la Rocha's unmatched ability to slide from smooth flow to raw oratory to barely contained, anguished whisper to guttural, primal scream that defines the Rage in Rage. It's why Prophets of Rage (nothing but love and respect for Chuck D and B-real) just can't have quite the same impact. No one puts an exclamation point on an outro quite like Zack: "FREEDOM?!?! YEAH RIIIIIIGGGGHHHHT!!!!!!", and of course… Well, you know about how "I won't do what you tell me". It never gets old.