Mandatory Metal: 5 Essential Rage Against the Machine Songs

Rage Against the Machine, 1996; photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Heavy music is full of legendary bands boasting deep catalogs stacked with iconic songs — sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, or what to consider their best. With that in mind, we present the “Mandatory Metal” lists, which collect what we consider to be the definitive tracks from various members of the metallurgic pantheon. Up today, Rage Against the Machine, those politically outraged, musically prodigious rap-metal firebrands led by venom0us MC Zack de la Rocha and guitar wizard Tom Morello. RATM are sadly no more — and unlikely to reunite any time soon — but their music lives forever. Here are our picks for their five most crucial cuts, most crucial now than ever, perhaps. If you disagree, sound off on The Pit Facebook page.

“KILLING IN THE NAME”
ALBUM: RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE

Five minutes of awe-inspiring, spleen-venting power.
Sample lyrics: “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.”

“REVOLVER”
ALBUM: EVIL EMPIRE

Discordant, harrowing, all too real — RATM’s roaring take on the horrors of domestic abuse.
Sample lyrics: “Hey revolver/Don’t mothers make good fathers?”

“BOMBTRACK”
ALBUM: RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE

The oppressed stick it to the Man. Loudly.
Sample lyrics: “With the thoughts of a militant mind/Hardline, hardline after hardline.”

“TESTIFY”
ALBUM: THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES

A searing, Baghdad-is-burning polemic. Still relevant post-9/11.
Sample lyrics: “We found your weakness/And it’s right outside your door.”

“GHOST OF TOM JOAD”
ALBUM: RENEGADES

Springsteen’s acoustic tale of economic hardship goes metal, and brilliantly so.
Sample lyrics: “With a one-way ticket to the promised land/Got a hole in your belly/And a gun in your hand.”