Against the Machine 
Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium
/sony; 2004/



I’m sincerely doubtful regarding the honesty of RATM live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium. The booklet specifies that the band did not resort to any overdubs in the recording process. There is not a single ‘pain’ in this live album as a French listener would put it, meaning not a single false note. Even if Tom Morello and his pseudo-communist comrades are accomplished musicians, let me doubt the veracity of the aforementioned assertion. SEB WOOd played the devil’s advocate and pleaded that at first few people truly believed that no keyboards, samples or synthesizers were used in the making of their milestone. He’s got a point but I can tell he was not that convinced… I’ve heard people asking dubious questions about the recording date as well, implying that this recording is not their last live performance and suspecting another commercial trap.

I know this is not ‘Nam, this is bowling, there are rules but sometimes when it comes down to music, you don’t care whether the band tells the truth or not as long as the music is good right? Uh. Anyway, we’ve been aware from the beginning that RATM’s relation to sincerity, honesty and truth has always been fuzzy and vague. They cleared their signing to Sony arguing that it gave them the opportunity to proselyte communism, to preach sermons and to add their contribution to the struggle against this horrid thing called capitalism. So why did they took advantage of Guevara’s image to sell merchandise? But then their unlikely gig right in front of Wall Street that generated a temporary stock market black-out was truly and incredibly delightful, wasn’t it? RATM= Duality.

My relation to RATM has always been uncertain. ‘Did they really convince anyone to join their desperate battle?’ is a question that remains unanswered. Yet, RATM stuck to our teenager’s attraction to rebellion, anger and contempt for sure. Despite the forerunners Faith No More (and to a lesser degree Suicidal Tendencies), RATM has been the band that best merged metal and rap. Despite Public Enemy’s influence, Zack De La Rocha’s deliveries have always sounded idiosyncratic and relevant to me.

Let’s forget our doubts and the simultaneous release of this live album on dvd to focus on the music. RATM live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium is a sort of best of gathering all the band best songs (see track list below). Be it recorded live and be the audience highly audible, RATM live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium sounds like a studio album thanks to the quality of its recording capturing the raw energy delivered when the band performed. If there is only one little curiosity, a manly cover of ‘Kick out the Jams’, it features all RATM best songs: 1. Bulls on Parade 2. Bullet in Your Head 3. Born of a Broken Man 4. Killing in the name (and the delirious audience n°1) 5. Calm Like a Bomb 6. Testify 7. Bombtrack (and the delirious audience n°2). 8. War within a Breath 9. I’m housin’ 10. Sleep now in the Fire 11. People of the Sun 12. Guerilla Radio 13. Kick Out the Jams 14. Know Your Enemy (and the delirious audience n°3) 15. No Shelter 16. Freedom (and the delirious audience n°4)

I’ll let the reader decide whether this live album is worth buying. On the account of my principles, I wouldn’t purchase it but then their performance of ‘Know Your Enemy’, the song which is more than ever meaningful, is truly stunning.

-Blacklisted ‘Evil Empire’ Igor

/june 1st 2004/