Sydney’s RedHook offer their own spin on the Rage Against The Machine classic, ‘Guerrilla Radio.’
1999’s ‘The Battle Of Los Angeles‘ has always been my favourite Rage Against The Machine album. Their self-titled record (1992) and ‘Evil Empire‘ (1996) are both good albums, don’t get me wrong, but their third record was the group at their most pissed, grooviest, riffiest, and deadliest in terms of songwriting and performances. It’s their most consistent release: from ‘Testify‘ up to ‘War Within A Breath‘, it’s just pure, funky, politically-minded rap-rock throughout. And it’s great!
It’s a honed LP with some great deep cuts, like ‘Mic Check,’ ‘Born Of A Broken Man,’ ‘Maria,’ ‘New Millenium Homes,’ and ‘Ashes in the Fall,’ and that’s not even mentioning the other bonafide hits like ‘Sleep Now In The Fire.’ So, it’s quite frustrating as a lover of that album and as a big Rage fan to see so many bands ignoring much of their material in lieu of their two biggest songs: ‘Killing in the Name‘ and ‘Bulls On Parade.’ They’re great songs, yes, but they weren’t the only songs that Zach, Tom, Brad, and Tim wrote together. The closest we get to seeing covers of anything else Rage-related nowadays are Stray From The Path’s ‘Vietnow‘ bouncy rendition’ and Enter Shikari’s faithful yet still electronic-spin on ‘Know Your Enemy.’ So this is where Australian nu-metal/rock locals, RedHook, come in, and I must give them kudos for not lazily going with the obligatory Rage songs.
Now, this ‘Guerrilla Radio‘ cover has actually been performed live by the Sydney band before, namely on their tour with Sevendust earlier this year, but now sees its official release today; dropped in light of the 20th birthday of ‘The Battle Of Los Angeles‘ come November 2nd. Yet sadly, their take is definitely lacking that spark, that sense of aggro groove, and that burning passion Rage so powerfully mustered up on the original tune two decades ago. To be fair, most bands aren’t RATM – hell, not even Prophets Of Rage are and they even have half of the original band in their damn line-up. This RedHook cover is exactly what it looks like on the surface: a local Aussie act covering a song/artist that they love and are inspired by, but in a very amateur way that makes you just want to listen to the original instead. Good on ’em for having a red hot crack at it, and while it’s definitely a faithful cover at times in terms of style, this one misses the mark.
When it comes to the arrangement, the inclusion of heavier, pinching guitars near the end where we see RedHook’s metalcore and nu-metal roots coming in don’t really benefit the track that much. Then there’s that resonating “all hell can’t stop us now” outro, a part that’s meant to really impact and inspire the listener, yet here it just limps towards the finish line. Lathering on some gang vocals, double-tracking some screams, or adding further instrumental layers would’ve maybe better helped the finale carry more punch and feel like a riot is in full swing – an effect that Rage created so well in their time. There’s also the awkward ’90s-styled film clip – think loads of film grain and VHS aesthetics – seeing RedHook “destroy” an abandoned house intercut with random newsreel footage and some band performances that don’t add anything of value either. (I do love how one of the band members is just always seen squatting in the video, never doing anything else.)
That being said, there are a few nice touches here. The second verse sees a lyrical change, with vocalist Emmy Mack bringing up the lock-out laws that have ruined much of Sydney’s nightlife and live music scene, making it work within the context of the track. And as for the video, whilst I don’t care for appearances, her wearing a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 shirt suits well as ‘Guerrilla Radio‘ was one of the biggest numbers off that game’s soundtrack. (Alongside Millencolin’s ‘No Cigar,’ of course.)
So that’s my take. Check it all out below: