The Hard Driving Riffs That Make ‘Killing in the Name’ by Rage Against the Machine So Powerful

The very talented doodling music theorist 12tone braved the hard driving riffs of the anthemic Rage Against the Machine song “Killing In the Name” in order to explain the other techniques used to make the song as powerful as it is. He specifically points out how the use of guide tones, tempo changes, muted note scratching, the repeated phrases and the frantic buildup to the crux of the song all lend to the clearly expressed anger that matches the brilliant, explicitly political lyrics of the song.

What’s the secret to a great Rage Against The Machine song? At its heart is a strong political message, of course, but it’s the strong, aggressive music that really drives their point home, so let’s take a look at some of the driving riffs and surprisingly complex interactions they use to build that unapologetic, explosive sound.