Rage Against the Machine is one of the most influential and successful bands in the history of rock music that has only released four albums. Their self-titled debut dropped in 1992 and is critically acclaimed—it has made several prominent lists documenting the greatest albums of all time. The album’s cover features the famous image of Thich Quang Duc engulfed in flames. In 1963, he set himself on fire to protest his government’s oppression of Buddhism.
Their debut offering was followed by Evil Empire in 1996, The Battle of Los Angeles in 1999 and Renegades in 2000. Renegades is a cover album that saw Rage Against the Machine tackling a wide range of artists including Cypress Hill, Devo, Bob Dylan, MC5, Bruce Springsteen, and The Rolling Stones. Both Evil Empire and The Battle of Los Angeles peaked at number one on the Billboard 200.
Rage Against the Machine is comprised of Zack de la Rocha (vocals), Tom Morello (lead guitar), Tim Commerford (bass guitar), and Brad Wilk (drums). Creatively, the band is led by Rocha (lyrics) and Morello (innovated guitar work). Rage Against the Machine’s sound combines rap with heavy metal and is often referred to as “rap metal.” Regardless of what you call their sound, they helped lay the foundations for nu metal.
Rage Against the Machine is one of the most politically charged bands to ever step into a recording studio. Their politics are so dramatic and intense that they’ve appeared at protest concerts against the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. They’ve donated proceeds from the sale of Rage Against the Machine tickets to a number of causes including the Zapatista Front for National Liberation.
The band went on hiatus beginning in 2000. They returned in 2007 with a reunion concert at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Morello said the band returned to voice opposition to the “right-wing purgatory” the country had apparently fallen into. After the Coachella appearance, the band launched a four-year, six-leg, 50-concert reunion tour.