Let’s try a thought experiment; You are Tom Morello, guitarist of Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, Prophets of Rage and Street Sweeper Social Club. You play tours as part of the E Street Band with Bruce Springsteen, you have your own project under the title The Nightwatchman. You are pretty much single handedly responsible for the band Tool! You’re at a point in your career where you’ve pretty much done it all. What’s left to do? If your answer is make Trap music, then you’d be partially correct in guessing the sound of Morellos new album “The Atlas Underground”.
That’s right, in a move that would confuse the heck out of anyone that grew up in the 90’s, old man Morello has screamed at all the children to get ON his lawn and party like it’s 2018 in a twerk inducing political statement. In his actual words, he comments “Amid this heightened sense of impending doom, it’s now time to rally the troops in a last-ditch effort to save the planet, and our artistic souls. By challenging the boundaries of what music is and has sounded like before, you can open peoples’ eyes to changing the status quo in society.” He’s not wrong to a degree; essentially this album blends his signature guitar tone with Trap, House, Dub, Rap, Dubstep, Electro and a few songs that resemble Rock that infuses various politically charged themes.
To be direct, I think that this is a highly esoteric collection of music and the intended impact may have had its sights set on an audience that isn’t exactly renowned for their attention to global affairs. I could be horribly wrong and I hope I am, but let’s put it this way: I tried to listen to the album with the singer of my band, as soon as the first song turned into Trap music, he turned my radio off. Now the type of crowd that usually listens to this kind of stuff is too busy trying to amass Instagram followers to care about the state of the world.
With all of that said, let’s try to look at this album objectively as it does have some songs that are pretty damn awesome. “Roadrunner”, “Rabbits Revenge”, “We Don’t Need You”, “Lead Poisoning” and “Every Step That I Take” are Rap/RnB oriented songs and feature completely different feels between them that take diverse influence from that spectrum of music. “Find Another Way”, Lucky One” and “Vigilante Nocturno” encompass the rock portion of the album which again are quite eclectic but are uniformed by Tom’s signature guitar tone being heavily present throughout. “Battle Sirens” straight up switches between a Trap fronted Audioslave. “How Long” is pretty much straight up House music with one of the most disgusting bass sounds I’ve ever heard! This leaves us with “Where it’s at ain’t what it is”, it blends House, Funk, Dubstep with vocals that reminds me of Pharell Williams’s style.
There’s no question that this album is original in its composition (I mean that literally) but I sense that this is more of a project born out of the fact that an artist like Morello can get away with it and have it get taken seriously. Personally, I think it’s one of the strangest steps he’s ever taken however when you get to a certain point like he has, you are afforded the opportunity to take risks and try something that is new to you. To that end, he has embraced music as a whole into his latest work and it will certainly turn heads! In what direction remains to be seen though.
Pre-Order your copy of ‘The Atlas Underground’, out on October 12th, HERE!