Rage Against the Machine, 'The Battle of Los Angeles' (1999)
With Rage Against the Machine, every one of their records is, to me, just essential. On their two first records, there's a youthful and incredibly antagonistic energy, but in terms of the craft of songs and streamlining everything that this band stands for in my mind, this is where it all maximized and this is where it came together at the most potent level.
The Battle of Los Angeles just sounds so fucking authentic. There's no filter. It feels so instinctive, impulsive and from the gut. Until that time, a lot of hard-rock records were very labored over, including our own. A lot of work was put into them, and this just sounds like four people, playing music in a room, ready to fucking take on the world. And the consistency is just amazing. There's "Testify," "Calm Like a Bomb," one of the great deep tracks, "Sleep Now in the Fire" and some deeper, deeper cuts like "Voice of the Voiceless" – it's just insane. And when Zack [de la Rocha] is yelling at you, it sounds like he's like in your face, just talking to you. All great records have that thing where you feel like it's for you, like it's talking directly to you.