The Epic 2017 Project #248: 170905
Rage Against the Machine (1992)
This was the self-titled debut from Rage Against the Machine released on November 3, 1992. It went to No.1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, No.45 on the Billboard 200 chart and No.17 on the UK albums charts.
“Know Your Enemy” features Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan on “additional vocals”, and also features Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins on trashcan percussion. Keenan occasionally appeared onstage with the band to perform the song. The album cover features the self-immolation of Thích Quảng Đức that occurred on June 11, 1963.
The second single release from the album was ‘Bullet in the Head’ This rapidly became a fan favorite and one of the album’s heaviest tracks. It refers to the band’s belief that the government used media to control the population, drawing comparisons between typical residences and Alcatraz. The track was transferred intact from the band’s demo, also titled Rage Against the Machine.
As well as one of the band’s most well known riffs, the song features many innovative guitar techniques by Tom Morello. These heavily use a DigiTech Whammy pitch shifter and wah-wah pedal. In the verses, Morello picks the open D and G strings on his guitar with the DigiTech Whammy in the open position to raise the pitch by two octaves. This creates a ‘sampling’ sound. Not as often heard is an unusual sound believed to be Morello picking a natural harmonic on his guitar and then raising the pitch with the Whammy pitch shifter.
Bullet in the head peaked at No.16 on the UK singles chart, albeit a very heavily censored version. Sadly, this meant that the song was often faded out by the time Zac de la Rocha got to the ante-penultimate line ‘Ya gotta a bullet in the fucking head’ and the song reached its massively powerful crescendo.
But there’s no fade here…