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Rage Against the Machine - XX
Sony Legacy Recordings
Rage Against the Machine was a musical Molotov cocktail: Guitarist Tom Morello’s shredder-DJ fretboard mastery and effects manipulation was the fuse, renegade frontman Zack de la Rocha’s Howard Zinn-approved lyrics and rebel conviction was the gasoline, and the flexible funk-metal acrobats of bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk were the glass bottle holding everything together. Thanks to these incendiary components, Rage Against the Machine still burns as one of the most important albums since 1990.
Rage Against the Machine – XX 20th Anniversary Box Set is a double-CD, double-DVD package ripe with early concert footage (where Morello uses a ‘burst LP on “Wake Up”), seven raw demos of album material, and a 2010 show in Finsbury Park, London. Other unreleased material includes three new songs. “A Mindset’s a Threat” has a slithering “Wake Up”-style riff that dances with de la Rocha’s Rasta-rap delivery, “Auto Logic” bounces like “Killing in the Name” as de la Rocha spits venom. And “The Narrows” rhythmically navigates around Morello’s screeching and scratching à la “Fistful of Steel.” The DVD’s coup de grâce is Rage’s first concert complete with a lone slamdancer wearing a tucked-in polo.
The only negative of this nostalgic collection of must-have metal is the sober reminder that a band as historically impactful as Rage hasn’t made new music in more than a decade. —Chris Kies
Must-hear tracks: “Auto Logic,” “Freedom”