Friday, 15 April 2011

CD Review: Renegades, by Rage Against The Machine (2000)

Released after Zack De La Rocha had already left the band but featuring his vocals, Renegades is the final studio album from Rage Against The Machine. Consisting entirely of covers, the album is as uneven as the song selection.

Paying homage to a multitude of genres from rock to punk to hip hop, and with 12 tracks covering artists as diverse as The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, MC5, Devo and The Stooges among others, Renegades is a hit and miss affair, frequently alternating between brilliance and mediocrity.

When Rage Against The Machine hit the target, which on Renegades is often, the results are irresistible. Kick Out The Jams (MC5), Renegades Of Funk (Afrika Bambaataa), I'm Housin' (hip hop group EPMD), How I Could Just Kill A Man (Latino hip hop group Cypress Hill) and Maggie's Farm (Dylan) are all brilliantly infused with Rage Against The Machine's unique combination of innovative guitar work and mightily angry vocals. It's impossible not to move to the beat of Renegades Of Funk. How I Could Just Kill A Man enjoys the benefits of the pure arrogance of De La Rocha's vocals bolted onto Morello's seductive riff, while Maggie's Farm rides a monstrously fat bass line dripping with deliciously unhealthy juices.

But when Renegades falters, it's not pretty. Pistol Grip Pump (hip hop group Volume 10), Beautiful World (Devo), In My Eyes (punk band Minor Threat) and The Ghost Of Tom Joad (Springsteen) are either poor songs to begin with, or just not a good fit for Rage Against The Machine's brand of nu-metal.

Ultimately there are more successes than failures on Renegade, and the album stands as an appropriate final monument to a band that was never short on guts and rarely afraid of innovative experimentation.


Zack De La Rocha - Vocals
Tom Morello - Guitar
Tim Commerford - Bass
Brad Wilk - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Microphone Fiend - 8
2. Pistol Grip Pump - 6
3. Kick Out The Jams - 10
4. Renegades Of Funk - 10
5. Beautiful World - 6
6. I'm Housin' - 10
7. In My Eyes - 6
8. How I Could Just Kill A Man - 10
9. The Ghost Of Tom Joad - 6
10. Down On The Street - 8
11. Street Fighting Man - 7
12. Maggie's Farm - 10 *see below*

Average: 8.08

also included on the CD:

13. Live version of Kick Out The Jams
14. Live version of How I Could Just Kill A Man

Produced by Rick Rubin.
Engineered by Jim Scott and David Schiffman.
Mixed by Rich Costey. Mastered by Vlado Meller.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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