Music: Rage Against the Machine

"Some of those that work forces
Are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that burn crosses
Are the same that hold office"
— "Killing in the Name", from their self-titled debutnote 

Rage Against The Machine was a Rap Metal band from Los Angeles, formed in 1991.

The band was on hiatus from 2000 to 2007, during which time the band members sans singer Zack De La Rocha formed the band Audioslave with Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell. Audioslave disbanded in 2007, and RATM reunited for a show in Coachella festival, and have since toured to some extent.

The band was well known for political activism, and the liner notes usually include contact information to various organizations the band supports. They have also played at large protests, and once, when playing on Saturday Night Live (in an episode hosted by buttoned-down Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes), displayed the American flag upside down, until stagehands came and pulled them down.

"Guilty Parties":

  • Zack De La Rocha - vocals
  • Tom Morello - guitar
  • Tim Commerford - bass
  • Brad Wilk - drums


  • Rage Against The Machine (1992)
  • Evil Empire (1996)
  • The Battle Of Los Angeles (1999)
  • Renegades (2000) a collection of cover versions of other bands' songs.


  • Abusive Parents: Zack de la Rocha, after his father's mental breakdown. The latter is referenced in "Born of a Broken Man", off of The Battle of Los Angeles.
  • Alternative Metal
  • Angrish: The language most songs are performed in.
  • Audience Participation Song: Arguably "Killing in the Name".
  • Author Tract: The liner notes. Zack de la Rocha's lyrics.
  • Badass Beard: Zack De La Rocha.
  • Bald of Awesome: Tom Morello.
  • The Band Minus the Face: Audioslave. Kind of.
  • Broken Record: See below.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Killing in the Name":
    Fuck you I won't do what you tell me x 16 (first 4x murmuring, next 4x in a crescendo, and the last 8x shouting out loud)
  • Conspiracy Theorist: The "machine" you should be raging against. They do specifically refer to the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.
  • Cool Old Lady: Tom Morello's mother. She's basically the anti-Tipper Gore, starting an organization called "Parents for Rock and Rap". One of the band's live DVDs even features her introducing her son's band as "the best band in the fucking universe"!
  • Cover Version: An entire album of them. Renegades is a collection of covers. They have also covered "Fuck tha Police", "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" and "The Ghost of Tom Joad" (the latter of which is in Renegades, and for which, incidentally, Morello guested when Springsteen re-recorded it in High Hopes). At live shows they sometimes play White Riot by The Clash.
  • Cursed with Awesome: One of the reasons that their music is so good is because of how seriously they take it, and how seriously they took their music was one of the things that caused their breakup.
  • Funk Metal
  • Hot-Blooded: They are a very, very passionate band.
  • Isn't It Ironic?:
    • "No Shelter" was used on the Godzilla soundtrack because Sony noticed that they mention the great lizard by name. What Sony failed to notice is that they call it "pure motherfucking filler" (immediately after mentioning Godzilla, no less!) and that the whole song was about slick American advertising disguising real suffering. Furthermore, "No Shelter" has the line "Make you think what you need is what they sellin'/Make you think that buyin' is rebellin'"
    • Also, in the 2009 U.K Xmas No.1 race, when Rage's "Killing In The Name" went up against The X Factor's Joe's, "The Climb", there was quite a bit of Irony as there was a successful Internet campaign instructing anti-X Factor fans to buy the song. In addition to the above anti-consumerism lyric from "No Shelter", "Killing In The Name" clearly has the lyrics, "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!"
    • In addition, Rush Limbaugh played "Sleep Now in the Fire" on his radio show once. Tom Morello was not pleased.
    • Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican candidate for Vice President, claimed that Rage was one of his favorite bands. This also displeased Tom Morello.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Tom Morello is a Harvard graduate with a Political Science degree.
  • I Was Young and Needed the Money: Tom Morello once supported himself by dancing. Exotically.
  • La Résistance: Many songs were dedicated to various leftist guerrilla groups in Latin America, most notably EZLN, aka. the Zapatistas, whose red-star-on-black-background logo can be found on the arm of Zack in the article image.
  • Loudness War: Renegades is turned up so loud it audibly distorts through most of the record.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: (In)famously at Lollapalooza to protest the PMRC.
  • The Man Is Sticking It to the Man: An anti-corporate band signed to Epic Records. Tom Morello once justified this by likening it to Noam Chomsky selling his books through Barnes and Noble.
  • Metal Scream: When Zack de la Rocha isn't rapping. Generally happens towards the end of songs, when a single line is repeated over and over again. Examples, aside from "Killing in the Name", include "Wake Up", "Freedom", "Down Rodeo" and "Bullet in the Head".
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: 6-7
  • Not the Intended Use: Tom Morello's claim to fame as a guitar player is in how he occasionally elicits very unexpected sounds from his electric guitars; most famously the turntable-like sounds on "Bulls on Parade", which he does by rubbing the strings with one hand and alternating turned-up and muted pickups with the other. The instrumental on "Testify" has him using the amplifier jack and hitting the guitar bridge with it!
  • Political Rap: Zack De La Rocha's rapping.
  • Performance Video: Several include snippets, but "Sleep Now In The Fire" deserves an honorary mention, with the band playing on the steps of Federal Hall. Without a permit. It's directed by Michael Moore.
  • Protest Song: The whole discography, to varying degrees of specificity.
  • Rap Metal/Rap Rock/Punk Rap: Trope Codifier alongside Anthrax.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: Possibly "Settle for Nothing", judging by the lyrics. "Born of a Broken Man" is also based on Zack's father's Sanity Slippage.
  • Shout-Out: Several, perhaps most obviously to George Orwell. "Testify", for example, lifts the famous quote "Who controls the past now controls the future; who controls the present now controls the past" from 1984.
  • Spelling Song: "Know Your Enemy", "Mic Check". Also arguably "Microphone Fiend", however this is a cover song so it doesn't truly count.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Settle for Nothing", "Born of a Broken Man". "Wake Up" also has a spoken-word bridge, where Zack explains the FBI's COINTELPRO conspiracy. The words dissolve into nigh-incomprehensibility before the guitars suddenly turn up again and Zack starts screaming "WAKE UP!!!"
  • Subdued Section: In a couple of songs.
  • Title Only Chorus: "Know Your Enemy". Although most of the chorus is taken up by Morello's admittedly awesome riff, the actual vocal bits just consist of the one line from de la Rocha, which is of course...
  • Titled After the Song: "Rage Against the Machine" was the name of a song (and EP) by Zack de la Rocha's previous band, the punk outfit Inside Out.
  • Trope Namer: Rage Against The X is a popular trope name on this wiki.

Alternative Title(s):

Rage Against The Machine