Evil Empire [LP]

by: Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine spent four years making their second album, Evil Empire. As the title suggests, their rage and contempt for the "fascist" capitalist system in America hadn't declined in the nearly half-decade they were away. Their musical approach didn't change, either. Lead vocalist Zack de la Rocha is caught halfway between the militant raps of Chuck D and the fanatical ravings of a street preacher, shouting out his simplistic, libertarian slogans over the sonically dense assault of the band. Since the band didn't perform together much after 1993, there isn't a collective advance in their musicianship. Nevertheless, guitarist Tom Morello demonstrates an impressive palette of sound, creating new textures in heavy metal, which is quite difficult. Even with Morello's studied virtuosity, the band sounds leaden, lacking the dexterity to fully execute their metal/hip-hop fusion -- they don't get into a groove; they simply pound. But that happens to fit the hysterical ravings of de la Rocha. Though his dedication to decidedly left-wing politics is admirable, his arhythmic phrasing and grating shouting cancel out any message he is trying to make. And that means Evil Empire succeeds only on the level of a sonic assault. [Evil Empire was also released on LP.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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