Former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello releases his confounding solo debut | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello releases his confounding solo debut

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Revolutionary virtuosic guitarist and Libertyville native Tom Morello has tried on a lot of hats since the 2000 dissolution of his pioneering hyperpolitical funk-metal band Rage Against the Machine: there’s been the supergroup Audioslave (fronted by Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell); his protest folk project the Nightwatchman; his stint as a Bruce Springsteen sideman; his collaboration with Boots Riley of the Coup under the name Street Sweeper Social Club; and most recently Prophets of Rage, a Rage Against the Machine quasi reunion that includes members of Public Enemy and Cypress Hill. Though some of these projects have been extremely successful on a mainstream level (Audioslave has sold over five million records to date), I’ve found that most of them have left something to be desired, and after listening to them I’ve just wanted more Rage. On his upcoming solo debut, The Atlas Underground (out October 12 on Mom + Pop Music), it’s apparent that Morello is trying his damnedest to channel the high-energy collision of metal and hip-hop he made his name with, but unfortunately this time around it’s a swing and a miss. The Atlas Underground has vocals from a bevy of guests including Gza, Rza, Killer Mike, Big Boi, and Chicago rapper Vic Mensa, and there’s a ton of heart and promise brought to the table, but at the end of the day, Morello’s funky guitar playing over superslick, overproduced hip-hop and EDM beats is more confounding than effective.   v

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