Music News

Rally ’round the family: Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Evil Empire’ turns 25

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Epic Records

Rage Against the Machine’s sophomore album, Evil Empire, turns 25 this week.

Released April 16, 1996, Evil Empire followed in the footsteps of Rage’s 1992 self-titled debut, which introduced the world to the band’s unique combination of Zack de la Rocha‘s ever-political rapping vocals with Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk‘s funk metal instrumentation.

Both of those elements were on full display on Evil Empire, with songs including the future Rage classic “Bulls on Parade,” which found de la Rocha decrying the hypocrisy of so-called American “family values” over the band’s crushing riffs and drum beats.

Evil Empire debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, the first Rage album to do so, and has since been RIAA-certified three-times Platinum. It also gave the band their first Grammy with “Tire Me,” which won Best Metal Performance. “Bulls on Parade” was nominated that year, as well, for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Even with their increased commercial success, Rage stayed true to their political values. Their performance on Saturday Night Live in 1996 doubled as a protest again Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes, who was hosting the episode. Rage reportedly hung American flags upside-down over their amps, which were then removed right before they started playing “Bulls on Parade.” As a result, their planned two-song performance was cut to just the one.

Following Evil Empire, Rage would release one more album, 1999’s The Battle of Los Angeles, before the band dissolved in 2000. A covers album, Renegades, was released following the breakup.

Rage then reunited in 2007 before going on hiatus again after a final show in 2011. In 2019, they announced another reunion with a planned tour for 2020, which has since been postponed to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Video contains uncensored profanity.)

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