Release Date: Sep 15, 2017
Record label: Fantasy
Some fans struggled to accept it when members of Los Angeles rap-rock renegades Rage Against The Machine formed Audioslave with the late Chris Cornell, who swapped RATM vocalist Zach de la Rocha’s politically-charged raps for classic rock crooning. Those fans may have an easier time with Prophets of Rage, which sees the same set of musicians team up with Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Cypress Hill’s B-Real. Guitarist Tom Morello told Rolling Stone: “We’re not a supergroup.
Clearly, RATM guitarist Tom Morello feels the same. In reaction to the news that Donald Trump planned to run for the Presidency, he called up his ex-bandmates, drummer Brad Wilk and bassist Tim Commerford, before recruiting Public Enemy 's Chuck D and DJ Lord and Cypress Hill's B-Real… and Prophets of Rage were born. When we saw the band live earlier this year during their whirlwind visit to the UK, it was a bedlam-inducing rocket ride through the best of the members' respective catalogues that raised fists in honour of Corbyn and middle fingers to Trump.
Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian recently recalled a conversation from the early 90s where he had noted that the only way Rage Against The Machine could have become more exciting would have been – with no disrespect to the band’s vocalist Zack de la Rocha – to install Public Enemy’s Chuck D as their frontman. More than two decades on, that whimsical notion became a thunderous reality, with the added bonus of Cypress Hill’s inimitable B-Real as Chuck’s co-rapper and an accommodating world providing guitarist Tom Morello and his new band with the most perfectly fucked-up political backdrop. Until mere weeks ago, Prophets Of Rage’s gigs were dominated by covers of RATM, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill tunes, but new material was always a distinct possibility, and this 12-track eruption of socially enlightened fury is the end result.
When three-quarters of Rage Against The Machine announced they were uniting with Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Cypress Hill’s B-Real as Prophets of Rage most rock fans had the same reaction: 'Well that’s fucking cool'. It is cool, isn’t it? Comfortably the most successful political agitators in alt-rock meeting the fury of early hip-hop’s most righteous MC is a meaty enough idea. Adding in B-Real – no stranger to slick couplets and serious activism himself – is another layer of cool (along for the ride is late-period PE turntablist DJ Lord, although, being absolutely honest, it’s not massively clear what he’s contributing outside of the live show.
This rap-rock supergroup – featuring Public Enemy's Chuck D and DJ Lord, Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk, and Cypress Hill's B-Real – revved up old PE and RATM classics on their debut 2016 EP. The band's first full-length contains 12 hardrocking lefty diatribes against government conspiracies ("Drones – they got ya tapped, they got ya phone," Chuck D raps in "Take Me Higher"), civil injustice ("We fuckin' matter," he declares on "Who Owns Who") and, in the case of B-Real's rhymes, restrictive weed laws ("Legalize Me"). The only thing they're missing is Rage singer Zack de la Rocha's bloodthirsty snarl.
Given the depth and wealth of their combined catalogs, one might expect the members of rap-metal supergroup Prophets of Rage to scrape by without borrowing slogans from other, younger artists. And yet here they are on their self-titled debut, transforming a song title by Angel Olsen into the chorus and rallying cry of their own single, .
Supergroups are hard as all hell to pull off. Chances are Tom Morello knows this (and if anyone would know it’d be him, right?). In May last year Prophets of Rage were finally revealed as a collaborative group project between members of Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, after a brief but cryptic PR campaign designed to pique interest.
If you remember my review of Prophets Of Rage’s The Party’s Over EP, you’d recall my prediction that based on what was (and wasn’t) on that release that this band, despite it’s remarkable line up, would be a major flop — think the Hindenburg in 1937. And with their release of their self-titled full-length it is clear that the band has doubled down now on a project is not working out well to say the least. The opening track “Radical Eyes,” which if you haven't noticed yet, is based on a pun in the title. But this track is a perfect example really of guitarist Tom Morello is either being held back or just phoning it in when to comes to his contributions to the album overall.