Prophets Of Rage – ‘Prophets Of Rage’ (Album Review)

Prophets Of Rage  is literally the sound of today.

For proof, just turn on the news.

A few hours ago, North Korea launched another missile over Japan, nudging the world closer to World War Three. On one side of the ongoing war of words is a psychopathic dictator; on the other, a spray-tanned sex predator. And let’s be honest – when you read the words “psychopathic dictator” you probably weren’t sure whether they actually referred to Kim Jong Un or Donald Trump.

As if that weren’t enough, here in London our underground train network has just been bombed.

Today, then, is one filled with menace and tension – and Prophets Of Rage is also laden with both. The band made up of members of Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill are obviously perfectly equipped to make provocative on-record political statements set to deep-pocketed grooves and run through with undeniably catchy lyrics. Prophets Of Rage’s message comes through loud and clear: Things are fucked up right now, and we need to do more than we’re currently doing to make the changes we want to see actually become a reality.

Over the past few months, advance tracks Radical Eyes, Unfuck The World, Living On The 110 and Strength In Numbers have fired up the hype machine to fever pitch. As Public Enemy once pointed out, believing the hype is generally inadvisable – but today, it looks like we can believe it for once.

Whether tackling political arrogance, ignorance, homelessness, or economic inequality, Chuck D and B-Real’s lyrics are consistently on point throughout Prophets Of Rage. Tom Morello remains one of the guitar world’s ultimate riff masters, shifting between hip-shaking funk, instant-classic riffs, and seagull noises at a moment’s notice. Behind it all, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford continue to provide rock-solid rhythmic foundations, and Prophets Of Rage / Public Enemy DJ DJ Lord gets highlighted on short interlude The Counteroffensive before duelling with Tom Morello during Hail To The Chief’s solo section.

That last track, by the way, is fucking intense.

Outside of the advance singles, Prophets Of Rage’s track listing is intimidatingly strong bar Fired A Shot, full of idiosyncratic Whammy pedal work and weak lyrics simplified probably due to guitaristic overload. In any case, Hail To The Chief’s “is it Morello or DJ Lord” duel; Legalize Me’s status as a pro-cannabis anthem; Take Me Higher’s mix of über-funk and Jimmy Page riffs; Hands Up’s party groove and batshit crazy solo; and Smashit’s mutation of Rage Against The Machine’s classic Wake Up intro all add up to one of the best debut albums of the year.

There’s only one track left, and it’s a fucking monster. Who Owns Who is perfect, everything you could possibly demand from Prophets Of Rage’s lineup crammed into a single song. Those aforementioned seagull noises come just for starters, Tom Morello embarking on a harmonic-strewn masterclass while Chuck D waxes poetic. We’re treated to a video-game-noise solo later on, but really this track is all about the chorus, and one line in particular. It’s a simple one, but it gets right to the core of what Prophets Of Rage are all about: We fucking matter.

That’s the ultimate takeaway from the first of many listens to Prophets Of Rage.

Today, a country whose nuke-proud rulers feel Japan would be best located at the bottom of the sea launched another missile over it, while someone who believes in fictional stories that separate humanity into “us” and “them” burnt a bunch of British commuters in order to terrify us into letting them get what they want. If you’re not surrounded by 24/7 violence, that doesn’t mean you don’t live in a warzone – and before blindly fighting back, we should first shrink the group we label “them” to those who only care about their own greed, and expand the group we label “us” to include everybody else.

Lest we forget, at least Prophets Of Rage are there to remind us.

LTK RATING: 100% (Essential Listening!)

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Posted on 15 September 2017

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