In the midst of an, AT BEST, political crises, I was craving nothing more than a resurgence of Rage Against the Machine, and my angst-ridden wish was thereby granted. This whole album is in your face, straightforward, and honestly just completely bad-ass. As much as the saying, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” rings true, Chuck D’s addition to this supergroup was the fixing we never thought we needed. With beautifully in your face with tracks like “Legalize Me” and “Who Owns Who”, Prophets make their messages crystal clear. Highlights of this album, for me, definitely were “Radical Eyes” and “Unfuck the World,” oh how I’ve missed Tom Morello’s guitar sorcery! Every single guitar part on this album is magic and, paired with Chuck D’s vocals, is enough to make anyone wanna join the revolution. The only track on the album I feel is a little below their level is “Take Me Higher.” It has an unpleasant aftertaste of a worn and trying to remain relevant classic rock band, and honestly just felt a little forced. Other than that, this album exceeded all my expectations and is on par with every legendary Rage album of time’s past.
After a three year hiatus, Death From Above 1979 is back, thank you god. This is one of the only bands whose entire discography gets me utterly pumped up. This album is a perfect follow up to their 2014 release The Physical World, which was their first after a nasty separation in the early 2000s. The Physical World showcased the band’s evolution from heavy rock, borderline manic instrumentals, and vocals, to a more refined heavy alternative sound. Outrage! Is Now brought this transition a step further, maintaining a modern alt-rock vibe while also bringing back some of the old aggression of the pre-fallout days. “Moonlight” specifically blends these elements beautifully with the encapsulating double base of the old Death From Above 1979 sound while still maintaining softer vocals and a toned down rock sound that is present in a lot of alternative music today. Their third single release from the album, “Holy Books,” is my personal favorite track. I like the underlying societal message and the digression of the chorus, which takes a surprising turn as the more relaxed portion of the song. There wasn’t a single track I wasn’t fond of. I think this album is their best, technically, and Jesse and Sebastien remain as hardcore as ever.
The Foo Fighters really surprised me with the quality of this album, to be honest. They seemed to be stuck in a specific sound and state with their previous releases, Sonic Highways and Wasting Light, only having a couple stand out tracks, at most. Concrete and Gold is a completely different story. Although their first single, “Run,” was pretty typical of Foo’s sound, it hinted towards the more on trend-alternative vibe the rest of the album had in store. The heavy bass drum in “The Sky is a Neighborhood” is almost Imagine Dragons-esque (think Believer). But the background harmonies and soft, melodic guitar intro are still reminiscent of earlier Foo Fighter’s tracks. “La Dee Da” was another pleasant surprise on this album. The distorted guitar accompanied by Grohl’s signature screech make this track similar to other alt-rock artists such as Eagles of Death Metal. Another track that took me off guard was “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour).” Although this was not my favorite track, it was interesting to hear the band experiment with an almost folksy-alt feel that we’ve never really heard from them in recent history. Major kudos to Foo Fighters for always evolving and being able to surprise fans after all these years.