“This is not Rage Against the Machine, Cypress Hill or Public Enemy. It’s a super group; one of the greatest super groups ever.” – Chuck D.
With their self-titled debut, Prophets of Rage aim to rekindle the revolutionary spirit of some of the most vital, incisive, and relevant music from the 90’s. For these turbulent times, who better than to rage against the machine than some middle-aged millionaires?
From the opening chords of Radical Eyes, there’s no mistaking Tom Morello’s distinctive rap metal groove – stomping out of the gate with a tight, muscular fury. Unfortunately, that’s where the Rage similarities end. A profoundly annoying and repetitive chorus confirm why Zac De La Rocha politely declined the invitation. And he is sorely missed.
Throughout the album, Prophets shamelessly pursue past glories, wrapped up in reheated and uninspiring retreads. From the lyrical nadir of Legalize Me (“Get free, get free, yeah. Legalize me!”) to the throwaway The Counteroffensive, the whole affair plays like an extended jam session that should never have left Morello’s basement. The majority of songs blend into one, potentially interesting musical ideas rendered tedious by repetition and bludgeoned into submission.
The sole highlights are few and far between. Living on The 110, a symbol of racial inequality in LA, sees Chuck D and B Real sharing lyrical duties over a semi-decent RATM backing track. Hail To The Chief, a clear shot at Trump (“All hail to the chief / Who came in the name of a thief / To cease peace”) has a kernel of something interesting, but its lack of specificity ultimately renders it toothless. Fired A Shot, like so many other tracks, starts strong, but soon tapers off into a thick dirge.
With too many ideas that don’t go anywhere, Prophets are a side project in need of a good frontman. Lacking the searing intelligence and fury of their previous incarnations, they’re left playing themselves into tepid circles. If this revolution is televised, it’ll be pre-watershed.