Though Rage Against the Machine staged a reunion tour in 2008 and have carried out a handful of different instances since, the seminal rap-rock group hasn’t recorded a studio album since 2000’s Renegades. But Tom Morello — Rage’s boundary-pushing guitarist whose sound outlined the band as a lot as entrance man Zach de la Rocha’s rhymes — has remained an alt-rock fixture.
Still, regardless of launching a number of new initiatives and fascinating in one-off collaborations with artists large and small, Morello has by no means launched a solo album beneath his personal identify — till now. With The Atlas Underground, due Friday, Morello brings collectively well-known associates from the digital, rock, and hip-hop worlds for a wild product that he’s taken to calling a “sonic conspiracy.”
To put together for The Atlas Underground, revisit Morello’s important non–Rage Against the Machine work under.
Audioslave, “Like a Stone” (2002)
After de la Rocha left Rage Against the Machine in 2000, producer Rick Rubin united Morello and his Rage comrades Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford with Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell. They didn’t turn out to be the modern-day Led Zeppelin that Rubin predicted, however they did discover rapid success: Their second single went gold, earned a Grammy nomination, and peaked at No. 31 on the Hot 100, which stays the very best chart exhibiting of a Morello-affiliated tune. Cornell delivered a spine-tingling vocal, however Morello’s solo — a squealing interstellar transmission that proved his creative fashion was equally efficient in energy balladry because it was in Rage’s bombast — solidified the observe’s spot within the alt-rock canon.
The Nightwatchman, “Battle Hymns” (2007)
Despite its many successes, Audioslave’s apolitical nature dissatisfied some. Morello rectified the shortcoming along with his Nightwatchman venture, releasing three albums and an EP of folk-oriented protest tunes, most of which he wrote and sang himself. Many Nightwatchman songs lean on obscure platitudes, however “Battle Hymns,” launched throughout a very bleak interval within the Iraq War, is incisive anti-war critique. “Can you clarify away the sleight of hand and the criminality of spending souls for oil?” Morello asks somberly as he strums guitar and blows a harmonica.
Street Sweeper Social Club, “Promenade (Guitar Fury Remix)” (2009)
Socially conscious strumming solely goes thus far. Morello returned to his rap-rock roots with Street Sweeper Social Club, his unstable duo with fellow radical-minded musician Boots Riley of the Coup. According to Morello, Riley pitched an instrumental resembling “evil disco square-dance rap” — and the peculiar request yielded “Promenade,” a deeply groovy anti-capitalist screed that’s additionally Street Sweeper’s definitive tune. Their sole full-length, from 2009, features a strong model, however for an extra minute of Morello’s six-string wailing, try the superior “Guitar Fury Remix” from 2010’s The Ghetto Blaster EP.
The Nightwatchman, “Solidarity Forever” (2010)
Morello by no means shied from contextualizing the Nightwatchman within the lineage of American protest music, so it was inevitable that he’d finally interpret a few of his spirited folks forebears. His Union Town EP collects vintage pro-worker tunes from the early 20th century to nice impact; whereas Morello ably covers Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” the set’s true standout is his rousing rendition of Ralph Chaplin’s 1915 union anthem “Solidarity Forever,” which turns the tune right into a gypsy-punk gem.
Travis Barker feat. RZA, Raekwon, and Tom Morello, “Carry It” (2010)
From Rage Against the Machine’s 1997 tour with Wu-Tang Clan to “Lead Poisoning,” The Atlas Underground’s closing collaboration with RZA and GZA, Morello has spent most of his profession within the vaunted hip-hop outfit’s orbit. He rekindled the magic with two of the group’s members on “Carry It,” a thundering spotlight from Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker’s solo debut. Sometimes Morello’s guitar mastery can put on skinny if it’s a recording’s solely focus; right here, offset by swaggering RZA and Raekwon verses, it really shines.
Bruce Springsteen, “This Depression” (2012)
Around the discharge of the primary two Nightwatchman data — which frequent Springsteen producer Brendan O’Brien helmed — Morello struck up a private relationship with the Boss. The pair carried out collectively repeatedly starting in 2008, and Morello even crammed in for E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt on an Australian tour in 2013. The partnership prolonged to the studio, the place Morello contributed to 2 songs on Springsteen’s 2012 LP Wrecking Ball. Though he’s sharing wax with one in every of America’s most revered musicians, Morello maintains his singular tone, which pairs surprisingly nicely with Springsteen’s steely heartland rock.
John Fogerty, “Wrote a Song for Everyone” (2013)
The cascading solos Morello lets rip on the finish of John Fogerty’s re-recorded “Wrote a Song for Everyone” are a far cry from the rootsy blues-rock that characterised Creedence Clearwater Revival’s authentic. But it manages to gel with plucky mandolins and a spirited vocal duet between Fogerty and Miranda Lambert for an surprising reimagining of the tune that’s among the many finest on Fogerty’s 2013 album of the identical identify.
Ramin Djawadi ft. Tom Morello, “Pacific Rim” (2013)
Blockbuster motion flick music supervisors can’t get sufficient of Morello’s otherworldly riffs, which have appeared in Spider-Man, Battleship, Real Steel, and Bright. The better of the crop is “Pacific Rim,” a team-up with movie composer Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones, Iron Man) for the 2011 sci-fi movie of the identical identify. The quaking end result underscores Morello’s versatility: How many musicians can efficiently play with members of Wu-Tang and Hollywood’s finest orchestral minds?
Bruce Springsteen, “The Ghost of Tom Joad” (2014)
Morello performed an integral position on Springsteen’s most up-to-date album, receiving credit on eight of the tracks on 2014’s High Hopes. The up to date model of “The Ghost of Tom Joad” the 2 recorded bore particular significance: Rage Against the Machine lined the 1995 Springsteen tune on Renegades, and it was a signature dwell collaboration between Springsteen and Morello, who performed it throughout 2009 performances at Pete Seeger’s 90th Birthday Concert and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert. Here, they blow out Springsteen’s subdued authentic into an electrical seven-minute behemoth.
Prophets of Rage, “Unfuck the World” (2017)
“We’re not a supergroup,” Morello declared upon asserting Prophets of Rage in early 2016. “We’re an elite process drive of revolutionary musicians decided to confront this mountain of election yr bullshit, and confront it head-on with Marshall stacks blazing.” While the high-octane rap-rock Morello, Wilk, and Commerford churned out with rappers B-Real and Chuck D shares loads of DNA with Rage Against the Machine’s, that doesn’t detract from its pummeling energy. Their self-titled debut’s lead single joins a bracing refrain (“No hatred, fuck racists”) with critiques of fascism and drone warfare, earlier than Morello unleashes his six-string pyrotechnics. Michael Moore, who directed Rage Against the Machine’s “Testify” and “Sleep Now within the Fire” clips, helms the tune’s can’t-miss music video.
Chuck Berry, “Big Boys” (2017)
Morello’s sonic inventiveness and technical talent have enshrined him as one in every of rock’s most influential guitarists. So, although their types are worlds aside, seminal guitarist Chuck Berry enlisted Morello for a tune from his closing album, 2017’s Chuck. On “Big Boys,” Morello retains his most flamboyant tendencies in test — so it goes when teaming up with a critical contender for rock’s Mount Rushmore — however his enjoying nonetheless infuses the tune with youthful power.
Tom Morello, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” (2018)
With The Atlas Underground, Morello invited different vocalists and musicians to assist him create a high-concept, grandiose sonic panorama. But he hasn’t deserted his folksy Nightwatchman ethos fully. Morello has carried out a canopy of AC/DC’s 1976 basic for years, but it surely’ll lastly see official launch on an Appleseed Records compilation due later this month. His colourful model detes from the unique considerably, translating energy chords into propulsive strumming, including an off-kilter clavinet solo, and rewriting the lyrics to decry American international coverage. “Call the White House anytime,” Morello sneers. “I’ll ship the bombers in with a silly grin.”