Rage Against the Machine: XX (20th Anniversary Special Edition)

rageRage Against the Machine
XX (20th Anniversary Special Edition)
(Sony Music Entertainment)

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That clicking, tight opening of the heavy-grooving “Bombtrack” opens (re-mastered, as all the tunes are here) Rage Against Machines’ XX 20th anniversary edition. (Some sets come with DVD’s, some booklets, some just the CD’s). I love Zack de la Rocha’s boiling anger as he sings, “Now you do what they told ya,” under Tom Morello wack-a-wacka on “Killing In The Name” and bassist Tim Commerford takes the power on “Take The Power Back.”

It’s all about atmosphere in Tom Morello’s pull-off’s on “Settle For Nothing,” a song I feel would have been better served if it never broke out into what is expected. Commerford and Morello are incendiary though on “Bullet In The Head,” with the bass holding down the entire edifice, the electric guitar flying all over with riffs, noises, blips and bleeps and wailing Hendrix-like leads.

Morello plays with his volume button to create the opening riff on “Know Your Enemy” (rather innovative stuff). The band then kicks in with loud, fast slicing, the absolute huge commercial over-the-top snap and riffery on “Wake Up,” a mover just too perfect to ignore. “Fistful of Steel” might at first sound like a Morello feature, but listen to drummer Brad Wilk under all the slightly annoying screams of Morello and the roiling of Commerford.

“Township Rebellion” is what I feel is the most innovative sounding song here and “Freedom,” with its high riffs end the regular disc. But there’s lots here in this anniversary edition than just the original XX remastered.

The first disc ends with three live tracks, “Bombtrack, “Bullet In The Head” and “Take The Power Back.” Disc two is the original Rage demo recorded in 1991 and sold at merchandise tables at the band’s early live shows. It’s a nice historical document, which many Rage fans will probably have in their possession anyway.

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