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(Credit: Penner)


Hear the isolated drums on Rage Against the Machine track 'Bulls on Parade'


There are some immediately identifiable elements to Rage Against the Machine and their signature sound. There’s Zack de la Rocha’s vocal presence, half rapping and half sloganeering as he parses the injustices and hypocrisies of the modern world. Right by his side is Tom Morello’s iconic guitar work that lands somewhere between a turntable, an air riad siren, and a machine gun. Holding down the low end is Tim Commerford’s aggressively pulverising bass tones that rumble and growl like some kind of feral animal.

With all of these flashy elements already in place, it was necessary to have a rock-solid drummer that could play as loud and fast as his bandmates but could also stay out of the way and provide the necessary foundation for all of that flash. Who better to appear in that role than Brad Wilk, the muscle-bound rhythmic behemoth that had held down the sticks and skins throughout Rage‘s career.

Having met Morello through a failed audition for the late 1980s funk metal group Lock Up, Wilk actually almost rose to fame with a completely different sounding band: Pearl Jam. During the brief period after the band had completed their debut Ten and before they hired Dave Abbruzzese, Wilk auditioned for the Seattle grunge gods before returning to Los Angeles and joining Morello’s new project that eventually coalesced into Rage.

Wilk brought the almighty boom of classic drummers like Ian Paice, John Bonham, and Alex Van Halen into the ’90s while still being adept in the funky rhythms of traditional hip hop beats. Rage didn’t have to sample classic drum tracks like ‘Funky Drummer’: they had their very own funky drummer who could replicate just about any beat while still adding the signature punch that made Rage so unique.

There’s a reason why Wilk was eventually drafted to record with Black Sabbath: his ability to emulate canon fire, volcano eruptions, and seismic earthquakes is something that takes direct influence from Bill Ward. But Wilk also carved out his own niche, thanks to his decision not to make things overly complicated with Rage. There’s no better example of Wilk playing exactly what a song requires than ‘Bulls on Parade’.

Check out the isolated drums for ‘Bulls on Parade’ down below.