100 Best Albums of the '90s

From Moby to Nirvana, the records that defined a decade

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Rage Against the Machine, 'The Battle of Los Angeles'

74. Rage Against the Machine, 'The Battle of Los Angeles'

Rage Against the Machine's first two records sound better than they used to, now that we know they were leading up to something. But they sure don't howl or move like The Battle of Los Angeles. Tom Morello is the most adventurous metal guitarist since Eddie Van Halen Hagar-ed out, and his boombastic sonics in "Born of a Broken Man," "Ashes in the Fall" and "War Within a Breath" rumble like crosstown turntable traffic. Zack de la Rocha has figured out how to project with his major-threat mouth, while bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk beef up their arena muscles. As a result, Battle captures Rage in all their stadium-shaking ferocity, blasting righteous propaganda to the cheap seats. Rage's macho bluster trips up their politics; even the kinda-sorta-feminist "Maria" is the sound of real men stuck on their own potency. But hopefully that's a temporary glitch — with Battle, Rage have already pushed their noise and their message further than the Clash ever dreamed possible.

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