The debut, full-length album from Prophets of Rage is in stores now. While the album sits on record store shelves, one thing definitely not left on the shelf by the rap-rock supergroup is their sheer ferocity. The group is comprised of former Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave members Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk as well as Public Enemy leader Chuck D, B-Real of Cypress Hill and Dj Lord. The six-piece come united to provides a Soundtrack For the Resistance, even if their message outweighs their music.
Without doubt the shining star here is Tom Morello. He is an innovator of the electric guitar. His revolutionary and ambitious guitar playing carries the album musically, while also synching it up nice with the rest of he and rhythm section’s back catalogue. His guitar squeaks, squeals and steals the show.
Chuck D and B-Real take the music further in the rap direction than the late Chris Cornell did with Audioslave, but that is to be expected. Prophets of Rage prove here to be more a spiritual successor to Rage Against the Machine to Audioslave. The album lacks the melodic nuances of Cornell’s widespread vocal range, which put to good use through three Audioslave albums.
Like “Cochise” before it, “Living on the 110” is a strong, if not great lead single to introduce us to the album. The music swings, the rhythm pushes and pulls, ever so slightly, just enough to add some tension. B-Real and Chuck D pass the mic, trading off rhymes. The song’s guitar solo is an immediate, fire-starter of solo. Ripping, punishing and ever so flashy.
“Unfuck the World” is forgettable in all but title. The lounge-in-cheek “Legalize Me” also serves as a song with a witty title, yet flaccid execution. The album’s standout track, “Hail to the Chief” though, is a monster of a track. This track could have been lifted right off of Evil Empire. Every aspect from Commerford’s thumbing, brooding bass to Morello’s squeaky, scratchy “Bulls on Parade-esque” solo, the track is classic Rage Against the Machine. And far and above the best track on the album.
What plague’s the album is how much is makes you long for the return of Rage Against the Machine. Those expectations were tempered in Audioslave, as the voice and creative force behind Soundgarden came out of left field. It wasn’t a perfect match on paper. But in music it worked. Here, the vocal and verbal onslaught of not only one, but arguably two of the best MC’s of the past thirty years left me, just wishing it was Zack de la Rocha menacing the microphone.
For those hoping they stumbled upon the long-awaited, often cried for fifth Rage Against the Machine album? Don’t hold your breath. The album’s twelve tracks move at a swift pace. But not that swift Even the artwork, the clenched fist in front of the red star scream classis Rage. The greatest fear in the Donald Trump America is that this may have been the best chance to get the band back with de la Rocha; and it didn’t come to pass.
Do you know how everyone has that Aunt they love so much? And then at Christmas time, she shows up unexpected, the first time you’ve heard from her in a while. She hands you a present; an alarm clock. You didn’t ask for it. You certainly don’t need it. It’s nowhere near the level of the previous gifts she’s given you. But you appreciate it for the thought put into it and because at some point, your cell phone may be dead and you way need to use the clock for a wakeup call.
Well, that’s what this album is. Is it any of the collective’s best work? Not by a mile. Did we need it? Not really. But we appreciate it because of their intent, their convictions and the wakeup (no pun) call it provides to all of us, to pay attention to the world around us during these troubled times. And to try and make a difference.
Through and through, there is a lot to enjoy here. The world is a crazy place. Our country is a crazy place. It’s comforting that in times of political and social unrest in our country, these musicians heard the call to arms and acted. The member of Rage Against the Machine have a lush, legendary discography. Chuck D is no slouch, either. Will this album replace Evil Empire or Yo! Bum Rush the show? No, it won’t. But that speaks less about the quality of this album and looming shadow cast by their previously released classics, and by Zack de la Rocha.