Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: August 26th, via Prophets Of Rage
Prophets Of Rage the semi-Rage Against The Machine reunion have released their debut EP, The Party’s Over. Original RATM members Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk have teamed up DJ Lord and Chuck D of Public Enemy and Cypress Hill’s B-Real in the wake of the political mess that is the upcoming American election. The EP serves as an excellent teaser into their current Make America Rage Again tour, as it features two brand new originals, as well as three live tracks; all of which they are regularly performing at each show. For more on Prophets Of Rage live set, you can read my review of their Toronto stop on August 24th, which featured a guest appearance from Dave Grohl.
“Prophets Of Rage”: The opening track is definitely the best of the two originals. Starting off similarly to their live set, the song features a siren as the band builds up the main riff, one which is highly reminiscent of early Rage Against The Machine music. The song has everything you would want from such an offshoot of RATM’s legacy: a funky verse, a hard hitting chorus, interesting textures and tones from Morello, and not one but two badass guitar riffs.
“The Party’s Over”: While not as explosive as “Prophets Of Rage”, the EP’s title track is a solid track which demonstrates a slower tempo with a swaying, halftime momentum and a grooving verse. The deeper groove that the band really digs into throughout the verses gives B-Real and Chuck D much more of an opportunity to rap in a smooth and flowing manner. The song grooves hard and provides a very different approach when compared to the opening track. Regardless, both tracks capture all that we love about classic RATM tracks while providing a modern spin to the music, leaving the listener with the impression that the legacy of Rage Against The Machine is one which will not stall into a nostalgia trip with Prophets Of Rage as just one of the potential offshoots to move forward.
“Killing In The Name (Live)”: This song hardly needs any introduction. In many ways, “Killing In The Name” is so deeply intertwined with RATM’s identity that the song itself is as iconic as the band. The song is a hit, and while listening to this track will certainly leave fans missing founding vocalist Zach de la Rocha, it also highlights how great of a duo B-Real and Chuck D make. The two rappers not only handle the song very well, but their combined vocal textures- the force of Chuck D and the sleaze that is B-Real– make for an interesting dynamic and have a powerful effect when doubled.
“Shut Em Down (Live)”: The 1991 Public Enemy track is completely overhauled to give it more of a modern rock aesthetic. Opening with a guitar solo from the instrumental Van Halen song “Cathedral”, the song explodes into a far more forceful chorus. Similar to RATM’s previous hip-hop covers on Renegades, the verse features a tight groove between Commerford and Wilk, while Morello takes a minimalist route, better allowing for Chuck D and B-Real to rap seamlessly together. The song also features one of the best guitar solos on the record.
“No Sleep Til Cleveland (Live)”: The Beastie Boys hit, “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” is arranged in a means that is both respectful of the original, while also adding a flavour that is distinctively that of Prophets Of Rage. Firstly, the song follows the same chord progression and crunching guitar riff, however the lyrics in the verses have been altered to that of “Fight The Power” by Public Enemy. The tracks guitar solo is also very different from the original as Morello uses the chance to add a more melodic solo rather than choosing to exclusively shred. Finally, and most obviously, the title of the track has been altered to reflect that this live track was taken from Prophets Of Rage set in Cleveland timed to take place during the same week of the “nightmare”- as Morello called it- that is the Republican National Convention.
All five tracks across The Party’s Over are quite excellent, however the main fault with the Prophets Of Rage debut is it’s twenty minute length. I have listened to it again and again while writing this and have loved it through each play through, but it leaves me wanting, no, needing more. Both originals shine as excellent examples of RATM inspired work in a modern day; both playing on the band’s legacy as well as adding an innovating touch. The live tracks, while providing a peek into their concerts, also demonstrate that Prophets Of Rage is far from a nostalgia act, as their drive to create new music based around older hits sets them aside from other bands which choose to take the easy route out. The Party’s Over is as much an introduction to a new band as it is a tribute to careers of each of the past members; an interesting direction taken by few. Hopefully, should a full Rage Against The Machine reunion not occur, Prophets Of Rage will continue to march forward as the voice of defiance in the face of modern tyranny, one which will inspire America, and up and coming musicians, to rage again.
Listen to “Prophets Of Rage”:
Listen to “The Party’s Over”:
Listen to “Killing In The Name”: