For Fans Of
You would be forgiven for thinking that a band featuring three-quarters of Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy’s Chuck D & DJ Lord, and Cypress Hill’s B-Real would be a fucking exceptional band. However, you would be wrong.
Oh so very wrong.
To many, this rap-rock supergroup is a dream lineup but it’s sadly not the sum of its individual parts. Yes, the band has the rapping and solid flow of Public Enemy & Cypress Hill, Rage’s funky grooves, Tom Morello’s signature guitar tone & solos, and the occasional moments of the former two’s DJ elements, but it all just feels so…shallow. I’d toss that up to this release feeling so watered down when compared to the respective quality and achievements of its member’s respective bands. They aren’t prophets so much as they are profiteers on their older, frankly better work, and on the fans that are so jaded by the US election campaign due to the vast media shitstorm that engulfs America every four years.
Politics aside, ‘The Party’s Over’ is a five track EP, with two studio recorded songs and three live recorded songs. Now, four of these are actually covers, with only one original track to be found, essentially making Prophets Of Rage a glorified cover band. Now, if this release had been fleshed out to become a full-length covers album (much like their live shows are) or being a release chocked full of legitimately new material, this could’ve been something really special. But it’s not.‘The Party’s Over’ is stuck in a middle ground between those two extremes, either one of which would have been far better or at least far more interesting, and thus, it has the worst of both worlds.
We begin with the band’s self-titled track – ‘Prophets Of Rage’ – which is more accurately a rendition of the Public Enemy song of the same name. Overall, it’s…all right. It is just the Public Enemy song reworked with Brad Wilk’s groovy drumming underneath it and Rage’s/Morello’s usual guitar flare over the top. Nothing more, nothing less. Next up is the EP’s eponymous track – the only original tune of the five – and it’s a slower, more restrained song than the predecessor. Again, it’s a decent track and it is indeed groovy, but it only makes me think that the band should’ve named themselves Prophets Of Mild Frustration instead.
After a rather shaky start, we arrive at the three live tracks, which include ‘Killing In The Name’, ‘Shut ‘Em Down‘, and ‘No Sleep Til Cleveland‘. I suppose that with these three songs, the group as a whole trying to cover all bases of the member’s respective pasts, but in doing so, they’ve painted a bleak, uninteresting picture of their own future.
As I type this, I look over to my live DVD collection, which includes not one, not two, but three RATM DVD’s, all of which contain equally better versions of ‘Killing In The Name‘ than this performance of the seminal Rage song. I do appreciate the new take on it, but it’s nowhere near as fierce in its vocal delivery or as energetic as the original was and still holds up to be. Next up is ‘Shut ‘Em Down‘, which is more of a cover of the Public Enemy song than it is of the 2010 Cypress Hill track that guest featured Morello. With that being said, it’s arguably the EP’s highlight, with a solid guitar intro and an eventual slick guitar solo, but even then I’d still hesitate to call this a great song.
Finally, we reach ‘No Sleep Til’ Cleveland’ which is, of course, their take on the Beastie Boys’ ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn‘. First off, the Cleveland part comes into the title due to the 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) being held in Cleveland. So there’s the sole political connection there and the lyrics occasionally miss-match between the two titles in a half-hearted way. Just like the other two covers, POR (ha!) have indeed put their own spin on the songs, but I’ve always felt that that phrase never qualifies a cover of any kind as actually being good. As it stands, ‘No Sleep Til’ Cleveland’ is a simple and mundane rendition of what was already an average song to wrap up an EP that didn’t begin in stellar fashion either. Huh, go figure. There’s also a Rage-inspired guitar solo and a ton of wah-wah guitars courtesy of Morello because of course there fucking is!
Honestly, when it comes to covering the Beastie Boys, no one is ever going to top the Cancer Bats cover of ‘Sabotage‘ or Crystal Lake’s metalcore jam of ‘Body Movin‘. Can’t get much better than those two, really.
Now, no disrespect to B-Real & Chuck D, they’re very good at what they do in the hip-hop and rap world, but this style of music lends itself far better to the aggressive vocal style of Zack de la Rocha. B-Real & Chuck D aren’t really filling those shoes. Not fully, anyway. As you’ve probably gathered by now, Morello, the band’s spokesperson and guiding force, utilises his usual guitar tricks and while they’re still very cool, still very solid, I just wish they were for, you know… the Rage songs of old! Wilk & bassist Tim Commerford are still one of the most effective rhythm section duo’s in rock music, it’s just a shame their powers are being used for watered-down mediocrity instead of good music. Finally, DJ Lord has his rare moments but he feels sorely underused overall, and his Djing just doesn’t cut through the mix that well, so much so that he might as well be called Backing Vocal Lord here.
As fate may have it, Rocha’s recent single ‘Digging For Windows‘ shits all over this entire EP and that’s just one song. Funnily enough, it captures the aggression and the actual rage that POR was aiming for with this EP but have failed in delivering. Of course, Rocha’s inclusion in this band would be so fitting, even with the two other rappers in tow. We all know that lineup works well if the live version of ‘How I Could Just Kill A Man‘ is anything to go on. But it’s immensely disappointing that we can only imagine what that lineup, with a host of legitimately new material and a strong, determined vision, would be like.
Ah, one can only dream.
‘The Party’s Over’ really should have been a full-length album and not just a five-track EP. But you know, maybe there’s still a full-length record on the way, or there’s still more music to be written and recorded by the band? Well, that’s if they’re even still together after the presidential election ends this November and if they can be arsed continuing into 2017. But whatever the case, ‘The Party’s Over’ is just too little, too soon.
Prophets Of Rage? More like Prophets Of Shit.
1. Prophets of Rage – 3:10
2. The Party’s Over – 3:32
3. Killing in the Name (live)
4. Shut ‘Em Down (live)
5. No Sleep ‘Til Cleveland (live)
‘The Party’s Over’ is out now. (Also, notice how everyone is crying out that Flavor Flav needs to join this band? Yeah, me neither! I couldn’t imagine anything more cringy, honestly.)