Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

Album review: Supergroup Prophets of Rage are more bark than bite

Formed by members of Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, the album has surprisingly little to offer other than bumper sticker slogans

Prophets of Rage by Prophets of Rage. Courtesy Fantasy Records
Prophets of Rage by Prophets of Rage. Courtesy Fantasy Records

Our times demanded a band that articulated the political uncertainty facing the US, and who better than six musicians from three of the most innovative and potent bands of our generation.

On paper, Prophets of Rage is a dream line-up for anyone with a passing appreciation of music spanning the last three decades.

There is the trio of Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk, the explosive rhythm section of Rage Against the Machine. Then there is hip-hop’s golden voice, that deep baritone of Public Enemy M C Chuck D, who enlisted the group’s decks man D J Lord.

To round off the bill is the witty yet equally fierce rapper B-Real from one of hip-hop’s biggest cult groups, Cypress Hill.

That mixture of sonic brawn, political and street smarts should have resulted in an album for the ages. Alas, the Prophets of Rage self-titled debut album falls to the curse plaguing most supergroups.

Whether it is to seize the political moment or to bulk up their set list, the rush to release an album resulted in a set of songs that are more bark than bite.

The album’s biggest asset is Morello’s virtuosi guitar work, yet it’s an albatross. In order to navigate Morello’s careening Led Zeppelin-esque sound, a rapper of a certain elasticity is required. While D and Real both had their moments, such as in the storming Hail to the Chief and bouncy Living on the 110 respectively, the majority of the album sounds incongruous.

All of which could be shaken off if the lyrics, such as in the dour Drones and Fired a Shot, were not the most disappointing aspect of the album. With an approach favouring bumper sticker slogans over actual insight, you can’t help but feel Prophets of Rage are perpetrating what they are actually fighting against.


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Updated: September 28, 2017 11:35 AM