Rage Against the Machine (demo album)

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Rage Against the Machine
Ratm demotape2.JPG
Demo album by Rage Against the Machine
Released December 1991[1]
Recorded August–September 1991
Genre Rap metal
Length 57:51
Label Atlantic[1]
Producer Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine chronology
Rage Against the Machine (demo tape)
Rage Against the Machine
(1992)Rage Against the Machine1992

Rage Against the Machine (also known as American Composite) is the original demo tape by Los Angeles rap metal band Rage Against the Machine, released in December 1991.[1] The 12-track tape was recorded at Sunbirth Studio in Los Angeles, California after drummer Brad Wilk joined the band, but before they had played their first live show.[2] When the band began performing live shows they sold the tape for $5, and sold around 5,000 copies.[2][3] The band was signed to a record deal with Epic Records on the strength of the demo's success shortly afterwards.[4]

As well as being sold at early live shows, the demo tape was sent to a number of record companies to showcase the band. Atlantic Records was sent one, and produced a number of copies which they sold under their name. The band later discovered this but decided not to take action.[5] The Atlantic Records tape has a different cover to the one seen above, with a picture of a man with a distorted face and Rage Against the Machine with the lettering taken from different newspaper headlines.[1]


Most of the songs on the demo tape were included on the band's eponymous debut album, with only five songs left out: "Darkness of Greed", "Clear the Lane", "Mindset's a Threat", "Autologic" and "Narrows". Two of these were eventually included as B-sides, with the remaining three songs never seeing an official release.[6] Some of the tracks on the demo are almost identical to the versions that appear in the debut album, but others have noticeable differences; the tempo of "Take the Power Back" on the demo, for example, is much slower and has a different final verse. The record was notable for the first appearance of the song "Bullet in the Head", which became a hit when reissued as a single later in the year after being transferred intact (with re-recorded vocals for the verses only) from the demo to the album.[4]

The track "Darkness of Greed" hails back to vocalist de la Rocha's previous band Inside Out that had broken up earlier the same year. Inside Out performed the track on many occasions, and several ROIOs exist of the performances. (Rage later re-recorded it for The Crow soundtrack.) Another significant indicator of Inside Out's influence on Rage Against the Machine's initial direction is the name "Rage Against the Machine" was also the title of another Inside Out track.

The main riff from "The Narrows" would later be reused as the main riff for "Fistful of Steel" and parts of "Mindset's a Threat" would later become a part of "Wake Up" and are present in "Freedom" and in the solo on "Bullet in the Head". The main riff for "Clear the Lane" is nearly identical to that used on their 2000 cover of The Rolling Stones "Street Fighting Man".

"Darkness" and "Clear the Lane" were both digitally remastered and included as b-sides on the "Killing in the Name" single and have both been reissued on singles and promos many times since.

The artwork features images from a newspaper's stockmarket section with a single match taped to the inlay card.[6] The statement "no samples, keyboards or synthesizers used in the making of this record" can be found on the cover, and the band also refer to themselves as "Guilty Parties" as they did in each subsequent original studio album.[7][8][9]

Track listing[edit]

The songs on the demo were as follows:[1]

  1. "Bombtrack"–4:14
  2. "Take the Power Back"–5:52
  3. "Bullet in the Head"–5:17
  4. "Darkness of Greed"–3:45
  5. "Clear the Lane"–3:54
  6. "Township Rebellion"–4:28
  7. "Know Your Enemy"–4:22
  8. "Mindset's a Threat"–4:03
  9. "Killing in the Name"–6:38
  10. "The Narrows"–4:39
  11. "Autologic"–4:07
  12. "Freedom"–5:44


7" EP[edit]

Sometime after their debut CD was released, an unofficial white label 33 RPM 7" vinyl was produced simply titled Rage Against the Machine. It featured 3 tracks from the demo tape.

Both catalog numbers are etched into both sides, RELAPSE-3 L-41056 appears as RELAPSE-3 L-41056-X on the B-side. A xeroxed paper insert shows the band name and a portion of the debut CD's front cover and back has track titles and newspaper clips just like the demo tape. Some copies have the band's name in all capitals stamped on the white label.

This is apparently a Japanese fan club pressing.

The versions of the B-sides are, in fact, the original rough demo productions and not the remastered versions that previously appeared on the "Killing in the Name" single.

Track listing[edit]

  1. A "Mindset's a Threat" - 3:59
  2. B1 "Darkness of Greed" - 3:42
  3. B2 "Clear the Lane" - 3:50


  1. ^ a b c d e "Rage Against the Machine: Discography". Ratm.net. Retrieved 2008-08-02. 
  2. ^ a b Taylor, Steve (2006). A to X of Alternative Music. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 205. ISBN 0-8264-8217-1. 
  3. ^ Malkin, John. Sounds of freedom : musicians on spirituality & social change. Page 94. Berkeley, Calif. : Parallax Press, ©2005. ISBN 1-888375-47-7. OCLC 57625671
  4. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "Rage Against the Machine > Biography". Allmusic. AMG. Retrieved 2008-08-02. 
  5. ^ "the complete RATM site". Musicfanclubs.org. Retrieved 2012-01-11. 
  6. ^ a b Woodlief, Mark. "Rage Against the Machine". Trouser Press. Retrieved 2007-01-07. 
  7. ^ Rage Against the Machine (Media notes). Rage Against the Machine. 1992. 
  8. ^ Evil Empire (Media notes). Rage Against the Machine. 1996. 
  9. ^ The Battle of Los Angeles (Media notes). Rage Against the Machine. 2000.