Review #221: Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine

Karla Clifton
2 min readJan 5, 2022

#221: Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine

The first time I heard Rage, I was 14 and at a Lady Gaga concert. One of the opening acts was Lady Starlight, and she played a bunch of hard rock songs from the ’90s, including “Killing In the Name.” Wow. My whole personality changed after that.

That’s kind of the problem with Rage, actually: Angry teens LOVE them. I know a lot of people who sniff at Rage because they hear “F*** you/I won’t do what ya tell me” and picture a 14-year-old “raging” against “their mom.”

But listen. There’s a lot of posturing punk bands that have maybe-not-so-complex political messages, and they all use Rage as their blueprint, but that’s hardly Rage’s fault. And this very upsetting album cover is a crop from that famous photo of a Buddhist monk setting himself on fire in Saigon as protest of the South Vietnamese government. So don’t hate.


“Bombtrack” — The line F*** Manifest Destiny: You tell me this isn’t an incredibly nerdy band.

“Killing In the Name” — It really is a shame that this song is so easily misconstrued as “Bratty Teen” when it’s more “Down with the KKK.” Remember when this was voted the UK’s favorite Christmas song?

“Know Your Enemy” — The skipping intro, the way the rhythm changes almost immediately. I learned who Tom Morello was from Guitar Hero.

“Wake Up” — Isn’t it kind of crazy that Joni Mitchell and Tom Morello both played the guitar? What a versatile instrument.

“Fistful of Steel” — Not talking about a gun, but a microphone. Cuz he knows the power of a question!

“Freedom” — Love the kitschy dial tone at the end of the song.


“Settle for Nothing” — I hate to say it, but I think Zack de la Rocha needs the angry guitars to back up his protest poetry.


You know who’s full of it? The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rage has been nominated for induction four separate times, and lost its bid each time.

Review #220: deja vu, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Review #222: Ray of Light, Madonna