Our Kind of Rage

It’s hard not to like Rage Against the Machine. After all, they’ve played alongside L7 and 7 Year Bitch at pro-choice rallies and headlined anti-Nazi marches. The stood naked on stage for 15 minutes at Lollapalooza III to protest censorship. One of their earliest videos combined scenes from the documentary Incident At Oglala and text from In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.

(It became number one in the country within 2 months.) They’ve fought for Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Zapatista movement, and the cultural survival of Tibet. They’ve headlined Latinpalooza and come out hard against sweatshop labor. With all this activism, a lessor band would get lost in the politics. But Rage Against the Machine prove on their latest release, Battle of Los Angeles (Epic), that the music is the message and the melody is vehemence.

In one song, “Guerrilla Radio,” Rage asks, “More for Gore or the son of a drug lord?” before deciding “None of the above.” In another, “Maria,” the woman of the title is praying and suffocating on memories of “smoldering fields rape rubble and bones” in Mexico.

Lead singer Zack de la Rocha’s vocals on this release seem to combine his usual intensity with guitarist Tom Morello’s over the top cacophony to create a sound that unimaginable for a studio release.

After a summer where the testosterone antics of the Woodstock boys filled the media with stories of rape and destruction, Rage proves that rock doesn’t have to be a men’s world.

Despite it’s heavy metal collusion, Rage is at it’s core a thinking woman’s band. These guys are advocating for social change. Unlike a lot of rockers they aren’t pissed that they’ve been stiffed of their white male privilege; they want equality and justice for the marginalized in our society-women and people of color. Now that’s sweet music to my ears.