“Evil Empire” is the soundtrack to a revolution

This hip hop inspired punk album is a modern masterpiece


“The cover artwork for Rage Against the Machine’s 1996 album ‘Evil Empire’ is an altered image of a piece of art by pop artist Mel Ramos called ‘Crime Buster’. It features a young boy as a superhero,” said feelnumb.com.

Jacob Morales, Writer

Rage Against the Machine is arguably one of the most influential rock music acts in history with their new wave style of punk rock that combined elements of hip hop, funk, and heavy metal. Their experimentation set a new subgenre called “Nu-Metal”.  This style would be enhanced and molded into different iconic acts such as Korn, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, and System of a Down.

Their work is deeply rooted in anti authoritarian messaging. When asked what “Rage Against the Machine” entails in an interview at PinkPop Fest in May of 1993, lead guitarist Tom Morello said, “The machine can be anything from the police on the streets of Los Angeles who can pull motorists from their cars and beat them to a pulp and get away with it, to the overall international state capitalist machinery that tries to make you just a mindless cog.”

Their 1996 album Evil Empire is their most cohesive record to date.  It features some of the most mind boggling guitar solos ever, wild bass lines, hypnotic drum beats, and lyricism that will open your mind. Back to back the record is one of the most enjoyable listens you will ever experience.

The first track titled “People of the Sun” is a funk influenced retelling of the slaughtering of Mexican natives by Spanish conquistadors. At the beginning of the song, De La Rocha exclaims, “We better turn the bass up on this one,” as a nod to how genocides like this again and again go unnoticed by society.  The distorted guitar and bass lines are a major point of interest through this album, and this track’s opening repeating riff is a great introduction. This track is a fantastic opener to a fantastic record.

The second track titled “Bulls on Parade” is a smashing anti war ballad with a seriously addictive bass line that gives the song an even more aggressive tone and style to this decree of anti war.  The chorus sings over and over, “They rally ‘round the family, with a pocket full of shells,” speaking on the behalf of families all over the world being negatively impacted by the mass military system.  This record mastered the art of touching on terrible political problems while masking it all with incredible instrumentals. When you dive deeper, you realize the true message of these tracks.

The seventh track titled “Down Rodeo” is a commentary of white elitism. In the introduction, De La Rocha proclaims, “Yeah I’m rollin’ down Rodeo with a shotgun, these people ain’t seen no brown skinned man since their grandparents bought one.”  To quote genius.com, “The racist white elitists who shop on Rodeo Drive, while chronologically impossible, have never seen a person who wasn’t white since their grandparents bought slaves.” Rodeo Drive is referring to one of the most famous luxury store streets in the world, located in Los Angeles, California.  The “in your face” nature of this track stands out to me, with De La Rocha not holding back for a second, to the instrumentals bashing through the gate with heavy distortion and rhythm.

The eighth track titled “Without a Face” is a bebop style hip hop ballad that tackles the issue with the U.S border. “It seems that as soon as the wall in Germany fell, the U.S government was busy building another one between the U.S. and Mexico,” De La Rocha announced at the PinkPop Festival in Holland 1996, “Since 1986, as a result of a lot of the hate talk and hysteria that the government in the United States has been speaking, 1,500 bodies have been found on the border”. The flow that De La Rocha displays throughout this track is incredibly addicting, especially how he words the first two bars, “Got no card, so I got no soul. Life in prison, no parole, no control.”

With this record, Rage Against the Machine proved to the music industry that they are not to be messed with. Every song on this album is so exciting — each of them with their own flair and spice. This album will go down in history as one of the best rock albums of all time. I rate Evil Empire a perfect 10/10.