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Rage Against The Machine - XX
Rage Against The Machine Rage Against The Machine XX

Released 23 November 2012
Producer(s) R.A.T.M., Garth Richardson
Label Legacy Recordings
Genre Rock
Website www.ratm.com

If you want to feel old then all you need to think about is the fact that Nirvana’s debut album Bleach was released closer to the Moon landings than today, a fact that was doing the rounds on Twitter last week. Alternatively you can focus on the fact that Rage Against the Machine’s debut album turns twenty this year and to celebrate they have reissued the album in a number of different versions to bring their vitriolic masterpiece to a whole new generation.

I won’t pretend I remember the original album release (I was eight in fairness) and judging by the lack of chart success most of the Irish fans were late coming to the party too. That being said I was very much aware of the band name from the graffiti in a housing estate close to mine, a fierce statement that perfectly summed up the band's modus operandi. Without ever having heard a song I knew this was a band not to be messed with.

By the time I hit my early teens and had money to spend on albums, Rage Against The Machine was one of the first “rebellious” albums I bought. The political messages of the self immolation of Thích Quảng Đức on the cover or the dedications to Bobby Sands and Huey P Newton in the sleeve notes were completely lost on my younger self; all I knew was that this album rocked. I played it to death, loved every track and learned every bass line on the album. Naturally as I got older I listened to it less and less to the point where I’m not even sure now where the CD is, so when I was asked to review this album it was a no brainer, though I was interested to see if I had outgrown the music –
No chance!

The beauty of this album is that it still stands up as being both intense and inspiring and a surefire way to get the adrenaline pumping. Tom Morello’s guitar riffs are still some of the most innovative creations this side of Jimi Hendrix. Tim Commerford’s bass lines still sound as crisp as ever and just beg to be played along to. Brad Wilks’ drumming still powers the songs along in brutal fashion and despite more social acceptance towards expletive laden rap and metal, Zack de la Rocha’s vocal performance still manages to shock and excite in equal measure. Despite the bastardisation of their trademark sound by the Nu Metallers of the noughties,  the album has not lost any of its impact.

Masterpieces come thick and fast; from the offset of the deceptively light descending riff of 'Bombtrack' all the way through to the guitar feedback outro of 'Freedom' it’s an ongoing aural assault of familiar blistering riffs and choruses. The extra content (depending on what version you buy) mostly revolves around live material- normally just padding to beef up special editions but at least here you get to hear Morello’s guitar showboating outside the studio as well as some of de la Rocha’s forthright speeches for song intros.

To teenagers today Rage Against The Machine are probably only really known as that angry band that kept the X-Factor single from taking the Christmas Number 1 spot in 2009. This is perhaps their least anarchic action compared to them shutting down trading on the New York Stock Exchange, or calling for the trial and execution of Bush and Blair as War Criminals. In these times of austerity, repression and discord maybe a little Rage is what is needed.

- Brian Kinsella