Prophets of Rage – The Party’s Over EP Review
Rap-rock firebrands Prophets of Rage have dropped one of the most anticipated releases of the year – The Party’s Over EP. Fans have been waiting since the line-up was announced in May to hear what the supergroup will come up with. The band unites the musicians of Rage Against the Machine with frontmen Chuck D (Public Enemy) and B-Real (Cypress Hill). Public Enemy’s DJ Lord is also featured in the line-up but he doesn’t make much of an impact on the EP. The five-track release is driven by Tom Morello’s groovy riffs and the dual mic attack of Chuck D and B-Real.
Prophets of Rage look into past with The Party’s Over EP
It may be Prophets of Rage’s first foray into recording but the EP looks to the past more than it steps into the future. Lead single “Prophets of Rage” gives a Renegades-era Rage work over to the Public Enemy classic from 1988 LP It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. The title track “The Party’s Over” is the only real original work on the EP. Morello commented on the genesis of the song:
“In my view, it’s one of our best songs. It’s an absolutely from-scratch collaboration of all of us.”
“The Party’s Over” is a mid-tempo rocker with a thick groove courtesy of the Rage rhythm section. B-Real shines in the first verse with lines about street violence and big pharma profiteering, while Chuck D unloads in the second. The song is a good summary of the Prophets of Rage sound. The band is hard rock, funk and groove-based and the lyrics are all about the political message. It’s definitely a change from the hard-edged sound of early Rage Against the Machine and also moves away from the extensive sonic experimentation of the band’s later years.
Covers galore on debut Prophets of Rage EP
The three closing songs on the The Party’s Over are all live covers: “Killing in the Name”, “Shut ‘Em Down” and “No Sleep ‘Til Cleveland”. The final track is heavily reworking the Beastie Boys’ tune “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn”. While Prophets of Rage keep the iconic main riff and shouted chorus refrained, the verses are completely different. Chuck D brings the party in the first verse but he gets more serious in the second, trading rhymes with B-Real about black politics in America.
Bassist Tim Commerford credited Morello with being the drive behind the band, and it’s obvious on “No Sleep ‘Til Cleveland.” The entire second half of the song is devoted to an extended guitar solo. Near the start of the solo Morello plays a melody which sounds a lot like his famous Digitech Whammy solo in Audioslave’s “Like a Stone”.
Most overplayed song in existence gets a revamp
I’ve heard “Killing in the Name” enough times throughout my high school years and plenty of times since. I don’t think anybody was really hankering for a re-release of that one, even if the lyrics were slightly reworked. The contrast between B-Real’s distinctive high-range and Chuck D’s low register rhymes does put an interesting spin on the song though. The original had a bit more of a metal vibe to it while the Rage guys give this take a funky groove which suits the vocal style of Chuck D and B-Real.
“Shut Em Down” is a cut from Public Enemy’s ’91 LP Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black. The slow-jam original gets an injection of the Rage Against the Machine bounce and riffery for the EP. Morello opens the song with a eerie delay lead, which is one of his finer moments on the EP. He also plays one hell of a mean solo in the outro.
Rap-rock vets aren’t messing around on The Party’s Over
When I first played The Party’s Over I was a disappointed with the release being so cover-heavy. Nevertheless, on subsequent listens I warmed to what Prophets of Rage were doing on the EP. They’ve established a distinct sound. The songs might be largely covers, but the extensive re-writing makes them fresh and exciting to listen to. In 2016, a live album is rarely actually live. Moreover, if the live songs accurately represent the band, they are a damn tight live unit.
I don’t think the EP is gonna make people forget about the absence of the one and only Zack de la Rocha. However, he’s consistently held out from recording new material with Rage Against the Machine. I’d rather hear the guys from Rage kicking it with Prophets of Rage than whittling their time away on obscure side projects. When the time comes for their debut album it will determine whether the Prophets have the potential for true longevity.