Rock and Roll Casino

                                                Battle of Los Angeles
                                                Rage Against the Machine
                                                Epic Records
                                                Rating: Gold

                                                One of the disadvantages with releasing an
                                                uncontested superb debut is trying to follow it
                                                up with subsequent releases. While most
                                                listeners of modern rock can pick a Rage
                                                Against the Machine song out of a line-up of
                                                100 tracks, the group hasn't stopped trying to
                                                come up with a new formula to package its
                                                     On The Battle of Los Angeles, the band's
                                                third release, we get another forceful assault
                                                of deeply hard-driving tracks, funk-inspired
                                                grooves and a blatant disregard for making
                                                music the way that traditional instruments
                                                were built to create. As with each Rage
                                                release, The Battle of Los Angeles comes
                                                with the band's disclaimer that says all sounds
                                                made on the release are made from guitar,
                                                bass, drums and vocals. This message doesn't
                                                mean a thing until the listener tunes into the
                                                disc and comes across the magical sounds
                                                created by this fired-up foursome.
                                                     One the disc's opening track, "Testify," the
                                                whole band takes a break from hard-driving
                                                rawness in mid-song to create something like
                                                a danceable break-beat segue you might
                                                expect from a group like the Beastie Boys.
                                                While "Guerrilla Radio" takes on a similar
                                                tactic as "Vietnow" did on Evil Empire, it
                                                instantly drew questions about how the band
                                                makes some of its unique sounds we hear. In
                                                the guitar solo part of "Guerrilla Radio,"
                                                guitarist Tom Morello breaks from his funky
                                                grooves to come at us with what sounds like a
                                                     "Mic Check" is another stellar example of
                                                the group's ability to stretch the horizons of
                                                their instruments. Bassist Tim Bob and
                                                Morello create a fuzzy field of hallucinogenic
                                                distortion laced with dreamlike guitar
                                                plucking. In the middle of it all is vocalist Zack
                                                De La Rocha's voice, sneering and chanting
                                                about the skewed reality he says we all live
                                                within. "Sleep in the Fire" is piercingly driving,
                                                while "Maria" almost uses Morello's guitar
                                                manipulation to the point where you almost
                                                can't take it anymore. Just when you think the
                                                shrill guitar sounds have gotten their best of
                                                you, the group breaks into a more traditional
                                                Rage-inspired chorus flavored with powerful
                                                drum work, intensely forceful guitar chords
                                                and thick bass lines.
                                                     As with previous Rage releases, The Battle
                                                of Los Angeles doesn't disappoint. As
                                                politically charged as ever about cultural
                                                imperialism, standing strong against corporate
                                                America and government oppression, Rage
                                                Against the Machine continues to provide a
                                                positively charged musical voice that straight
                                                up tells it like it is