Tuesday, March 16, 2010

CD of the Day: ‘The Battle of Los Angeles,’ Rage Against the Machine (1999)

My Rage Against the Machine phase ended abruptly on Sept. 11, 2001. Since that fateful day I have rarely found the urge to pop in a CD from a band who seem to hate the country that’s made it filthy rich, spewing communist propaganda against a capitalist system the bandmembers had no problem using to their individual advantage.

So, yeah, it’s been awhile since I’ve listened to “The Battle of Los Angeles.” It holds up pretty well, balancing the raw-nerve emotion of their 1992 eponymous debut with the slicker, more concise radio-friendly fare from 1996’s “Evil Empire.” “L.A.” is anchored by three of the band’s best tracks, “Guerilla Radio,” “Testify,” and “Sleep Now in the Fire”—it’s no accident these were hit singles.

But as typically happens with Rage albums, this one wears out its welcome by the end. Listening straight through, it all starts to blend into one big Tom Morello riff around Track 9, “Voice of the Voiceless.” Finale “War Within a Breath” gets special notice for its U2 shoutout, though.

“The Battle of Los Angeles” was inarguably Rage’s most accomplished album at that point in their career, technically superior to anything they’d done before with some truly great songs. I just sorta … grew out of it.

Grade: B+

Favorite Track: “Guerilla Radio”

Least Favorite Track: “Ashes in the Fall”

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