And lo, Satan decreed that thrash metal would be superseded by grunge, which begat alt.metal, which begat rap-metal, which begat nu-metal. And then baseball cap manufacturers’ share prices soared.
In the middle of this long-gone process was Rage Against The Machine’s monstrous debut album, a venomous collection of songs that expressed the LA foursome’s deep dissatisfaction with the military-industrial complex, institutionalised racism, public manipulation through advertising and the general decay of society. If all this sounds miserable, it wasn’t: go and see these songs played live and the adrenaline levels of both crowd and band will blow your mind. The high points are the Radio 1-fooling Killing In The Name, Bullet In The Head, Wake Up and Know Your Enemy; but, look, it’s an album of malevolent classics from start to finish.
This 20th anniversary edition adds the 1991 RATM demo in its entirety, plus live clips and promo videos that you’ve probably seen many times before. Skip those and give the demo tracks a spin. The tempos are slower, the solos different and the arrangements slightly primitive when compared with the finished versions. The real gold is in tracks that didn’t make the final album, such as the funked-up Autologic and a jazz workout, Darkness Of Greed.