Bullet in the Head is a song released by political rap metal band Rage Against the Machine on their 1992 debut album. A fan favorite and one of the album's heaviest tracks, "Bullet in the Head" refers to the band's belief that the government uses media to control the population, drawing comparisons between typical residences and Alcatraz. The track was transferred intact from the band's demo, also titled Rage Against the Machine.
As well as one of the band's most well known riffs, the song features many innovative guitar techniques by Tom Morello. These heavily use a DigiTechWhammy pitch shifter and wah-wah pedal. In the verses, Morello picks the open D and G strings on his guitar with the DigiTech Whammy in the open (furthest) position to raise the pitch by two octaves. This creates a 'sampling' sound. Not as often heard is an unusual sound believed to be Morello picking a natural harmonic on his guitar and then raising the pitch with the Whammy pitch shifter. The band debuted "Bullet in the Head" at their first public performance at California State University in The Quad on October 23, 1991.
"Bullet in the Head" is mentioned in the lyrics to Pennywise's "I Won't Have It", from their 1995 album About Time. In the booklet of the album, Zack de la Rocha's name is also mentioned next to the "Bullet in the Head" part.
This song was to be the second performance on Rage Against the Machine's set during an April 1996 episode of Saturday Night Live. However, the band was kicked out after only one song for hanging inverted American flags from their amplifiers.
A video clip was recorded in a BBC warehouse in New York. While not often cited, this isn't a mimed video, but a live performance recorded for the BBC's program The Late Show. In the words of Tom Morello, "The tour bus pulled up in front of the BBC studio, we ran through the song once in front of the cameras, then left to play a club that night."