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All Music Guide Review

You can feel it coming, but it's still scary. The drums build in the usual, obvious way, but then suddenly the volume is louder than it's supposed to be. I'm talking about "Bombtrack," the first cut on the self-titled debut by Rage Against The Machine, a band that should be the best-known band in America by the time this gets into print.

The song begins with a super-tight John Bonham stomp-fest guitar-and-drum riff behind Zack de la Rocha's militantly anti-American, anti-corporate, anti-everything-nasty rap. He's wonderfully whiny, fantastically nasal and it all adds to the effects of a pubescent kid joy-riding a tractor through a mall. Only this kid's screaming something vaguely anarcho-syndicalist and firing his old man's nickel-plated magnum at every symbol of Republicanism he can see. Tom Morello starts scratching on his guitar, doing the work of two turntables, in an update of that famous Martin Barre riff from Jethro Tull's "Locomotive Breath."

The next track, "Killing in the Name," makes Jane's Addiction sound like tourists in a Santeria shop. The music is dissonant, violent, manic and, above all, driven by crunching grooves. Rocha assails the cross-burning segments of our society while the other players thrash their asses off. Morello does things to his guitar that shouldn't happen to a dog. The only precedent for this sound was the collaboration between Anthrax and Public Enemy, but the difference here is, no sampling, no synthesizers, no keyboards.

Dimitri Ehrlich, Pulse!

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