Godsticks on Rage Against The Machine

Darran Charles is a member of Godsticks. They have recently released their new album called Inescapable.

Here, Darran talks of his love of the mighty, and recently reformed, Rage Against The Machine.

Rage Against The Machine

I suppose it was only until my very recent discovery (20 years after the event to be exact) of their last studio album that caused me to ponder just how much of an impact Rage Against The Machine had on me as a musician

In many ways they broke through at a fortuitous time – back when hip hop and rock artists were starting to collaborate – so their debut album wasn’t as left-field as it could have sounded if released a few years earlier. I was always a huge fan of both rap and heavy rock, so RATM’s debut album was, for me, a welcome conglomeration of those styles.

The one thing I used to love about rap music was that it was so passionately angry: which is why fusing it together with another very passionate and angry style of music in hard rock made perfect sense. Despite his style, I never really think of Zack Dela Rocha as a rapper but more of a musical polemicist. Though I must confess that I never paid attention to the meaning behind the lyrics – it was always the impassioned delivery that impacted upon me. Whatever he was protesting against, I was on board!

Though Spotify has in some sense ruined my appreciation of new albums (that’s another topic entirely), this is one of the things I’m thankful to it for. On a recent road trip, I began dipping into the Evil Empire album (one of my favorite albums) and I spotted the cover of an album I didn’t recognise called Renegades. For some reason, I’d always assumed that Riots Of LA was their last album before breaking up, so I was intrigued. Anyway, I clicked on a random song from this album How I Can Just Kill A Man and I was transfixed – what an amazing riff!  I played that song repeatedly for hours.

Darran Charles Godsticks Monnow Valley Studio 2019-3
Darran Charles

So, it was the discovery of this album which led me to reflect upon and appreciate just what one hell of a riff writer Tom Morello is. He was quite rightly lauded as a major pioneer of all these hip-hop inspired guitar sounds that were incredibly imaginative, especially in their execution (for me,  they began to feel a little gimmicky when he continued to do this on later Audioslave albums) but I think it’s due to this facet of his style that his incredible riff-writing is overlooked. Or it could be down to the fact that the band are mixed so in such a powerfully balanced way that no instrument really stands out as such. The chorus in Kill A Man a perfect example of how a well-produced and tightly-knit band can sound: bass, drums, and guitar all mixed perfectly, none dominating, but all combining to give you a sonic punch in the throat!

For me, any band whose music has you involuntarily moving, nodding your head, tapping your foot, or just in any way physically responding to it, then that makes them special. Rage Against The Machine are one of the very few that do this to me.

Here’s the video for Denigrate that features Dan Tompkins from TesseracT. Inescapable was released on 7th February 2020 on Kscope. Maybe you can spot the RATM influences?

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