Political thrash-rockers Rage Against the Machine are nearly finished recording their third album, a work that promises to introduce new elements to the group's popular sound, according to producer Brendan O'Brien.
"It's got some new stuff, new sounds, different things going on," O'Brien said. The producer, one of the most prolific in the business, also stood behind the mixing board on the band's second album, Evil Empire (1996). He assured fans they still will recognize Rage's trademark funk-rock attack.
"They're Rage Against the Machine -- it definitely hits pretty darn hard," he said.
The producer, whose resume also includes albums by Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots, declined to discuss the new work in detail. But if recording proceeds on schedule, he said, the still-untitled album could be finished this month and released in the fall. The album is not yet on Epic Records' release schedule, according to label spokesperson Lisa Markowitz.
It's been three years since the release of Evil Empire, which contains "Bulls on Parade" (RealAudio excerpt). But lengthy periods between discs is nothing new to Rage Against the Machine, whose members include singer Zack de la Rocha, guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Bob and drummer Brad Wilk. Their self-titled debut came out four years before Evil Empire.
Although the new album remains unfinished, the band has booked several shows for this summer.
In June, Rage will play WXRK-FM radio's Dysfunctional Family Picnic in New York and the Tibetan Freedom Concert in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In July, they'll play the 30th-anniversary Woodstock festival in upstate New York and the Mt. Fuji Festival outside Tokyo.
Rage, who have earned a reputation for being outspoken on political and social matters, also have kept their name in the news.
They were instrumental in organizing a benefit concert for Pennsylvania death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, a black activist convicted of murdering a police officer. More recently, after the April 20 school shooting that left 15 dead in Littleton, Colo., Morello spoke out against politicians and journalists who blamed the incident on the influence of bands such as Marilyn Manson.
"Don't let the politicians scapegoat you or your music," he said during an America Online chat.
"It is not that our popular music is any more violent than, say, European heavy metal," Morello said. "It is not that we have more violent video games than, say, Japan. ... What we do have a lot more of in America is inequality and guns."