Before Rage Against The Machine released their self-titled debut album in November of 1992, rap and metal did not mix as often as it does now. Sure, there were plenty of examples at the time and bands doing that style (Faith No More, especially), but it wasn’t a commercially dominant form of heavy music – at least not yet. Nu-metal’s commercial success was still a ways off, as Korn wouldn’t released their debut album until 1994.
To say Rage Against The Machine’s debut was revolutionary was an understatement. Considering the unstable political climate at the time with the Bush to Clinton transition, there was much to, well, rage about. And rage they did. An unabashedly political album, Rage don’t hold back their thoughts on their debut record. In fact, their political ideologies were key to their identity as well as where much of their notoriety came from.
It was the rare album to make no musical compromises but still sell a bunch of copies, going triple platinum in the USA alone. It even featured a then-unknown Maynard James Keenan on “Know Your Enemy”, an album standout. Buoyed by now iconic singles like “Killing In The Name”, “Bombtrack”, and “Wake Up” (a six-minute long track which appeared at the end of 1999’s The Matrix), the album did indeed inspire a wave of incoming bands who would take rap-metal in various directions.
With Tom Morello’s innovative style of guitar playing, a capable rhythm section, and Zack de la Rocha’s abrasive and aggressive hardcore punk/hip-hop delivery (remember, Zack had also fronted the hardcore punk band Inside Out, signed to Revelation Records), Rage had all the tools for success. To say there were many followers in the band’s wake is an understatement.