Sound Advice: Prophets of Rage with AWOLNATION and Wakrat (Oct. 5)

Prophets of Rage, the latest project undertaken by Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk, play Riverbend Music Center.

click to enlarge Prophets of Rage - PHOTO: DANNY CLINCH
Photo: Danny Clinch
Prophets of Rage

Two of the more recent Rock supergroups — usually formed by members of different bands that are not active at the time — to experience great commercial success are Velvet Revolver (with three Guns ’N Roses members and a late Stone Temple Pilot) and Audioslave, which featured Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell and what was left of Rage Against the Machine after frontman Zack de la Rocha stepped away from the band. Though both found commercial success with a Rock-radio-ready sound, each ’00s sensation was rather bland and generic, especially when compared to the groups from which they sprung.

So Rage Against the Machine’s creative guitarist Tom Morello and powerhouse rhythm section of bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk know a thing or two about creating a band featuring established musicians that can draw a lot of attention. This time around, though, the trio’s latest project, Prophets of Rage, includes a trademark Rage ingredient missing from Audioslave — the Hip Hop power of de la Rocha’s fierce lyrics and commanding delivery. And they found a pair of ringers to add that ingredient who just happen to be two of the finest Hip Hop MCs of all time.

When you talk about smart, powerful rappers, you can’t get much better than Chuck D, whose booming vocals and brilliant lyrics made Public Enemy Hip Hop legends and no-brainer Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. Teaming with PE’s main man in Prophets of Rage is B-Real, the deft if somewhat more laidback lead MC of Cypress Hill. The rappers have two of the most distinct styles in Hip Hop history, with Chuck D’s bass-heavy wallop and B-Real’s sinewy, piercing style being instantly recognizable upon the first syllable.

While Audioslave was focused on original material (because who wants to hear Chris Cornell rap, really?), Prophets of Rage has the ability to not only present some new songs with the vibe of all of the members’ stylistically compatible previous output, but also perform songs from the Rage, PE and Cypress Hill catalogs. While that formula certainly plays into nostalgia, it’s also an opportunity to hear classics like “Take the Power Back,” “How I Could Just Kill a Man” and “Miuzi Weighs a Ton” in a new context. Though the sets on the band’s current tour rely heavily on Rage’s discography, it should be especially interesting to hear how Morello and Co. creatively interpret the MC’s classics.

Given that Rage and PE, in particular, are two of the greatest socio-political-minded groups in modern music, the new band’s presence on the road in the run up to such an important and bitterly fought battle for the White House — as well as during the rise of voices in movements like Black Lives Matter — seems almost like destiny. The band’s creation seems less about selling a million albums and more about amplifying some important ideas in a time when it’s needed. If you’re a music lover who feels as if we’re in an era where artists sadly no longer speak up about vital societal issues, Prophets of Rage’s Make America Rage Again tour (see what they did there?) offers a litany of socially conscious ideas set to an explosive soundtrack. The band’s concert might not help you make sense of today’s nonsensical political climate and contentious social problems, but it will almost certainly offer some catharsis and a chance to rage against it all with like-minded citizens.

Click here for tickets/more show info.

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