By Chad Childers
We can no longer stand on the sidelines of history. Dangerous times demand dangerous songs. It’s time to take the power back. It’s time to RAGE again,” stated Prophets of Rage in 2016 announcing their formation. A year later and with a whole bunch of shows under their belt, the band is ready to embrace their rage with their self-titled debut album.
After playing songs by the members’ respective bands — Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill — in concert, the band found their sound and voice, and it comes barreling through on the disc, ready to strike full force and leaving an impact on those who listen. For fans of RATM, you won’t have to stretch far to find familiar territory. There are socially minded, adrenaline-fueled songs that feel like they would have fit perfectly within any of the band’s previous releases, with some even nicking a bit of the vibe from already established favorites. But where you might be surprised are the moments where Prophets of Rage mix it up a bit, offering a funkier feel like on “Take Me Higher” or delivering something really catchy like the Zeppelin-esque, clap-along weed anthem “Legalize Me” or the highly infectious “Fired a Shot.”
Prophets of Rage load up the first half of the album, with the slow-grooving “Radical Eyes,” the stellar and thought-provoking initial single, “Unf–k the World,” and the funky vibe of the class war-conscious current single “Living on the 110″ coming in three of the first four tracks. But there’s plenty more to check out here. “Take Me Higher” is one of the disc’s more experimental cuts opening with a flamenco-like guitar sound before Chuck D. and B-Real delve into a bit on drones and privacy with a nod to LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” coming early on. “Strength in Numbers” is very Rage-esque, with distinctive picking sounds that come off like a chicken clucking accentuating a powerful track that builds to a furious finish.
“Who Owns Who” features some muscular guitar work by Tom Morello, and a chaotic mid-song breakdown with wild sounds coming from the guitarist and DJ Lord. The song itself challenges those interested in activism to know their rights, but understand “who owns who” before treading forward. And “Hands Up” and “Smashit” end the album on a high note.
“Music has both the ability to reflect and transform the times,” stated Morello in early press about their new album. It’s clear that in a time where it’s more important than ever for people to have a voice, the band has solidified what theirs is and are ready to rally for what they believe, all against the backdrop of some at times aggressive and at times funky sounds. Time will tell if they’re able to “transform the times,” but Prophets of Rage are doing their best to rage against the machine for as long as it takes.