Bombtrack – Rage Against The Machine

This week we’ll be learning how to play Bombtrack by Rage Against The Machine which was the opening song on their self-titled debut album. The album was released on November 6, 1992 hitting #1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart, and #45 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.

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Bombtrack sits at around 76bpm and drummer Brad Wilk lays into the guitar riff with a constant underlying pulse of 16th notes – played on a combination of closed and slushy hats.

The song starts off with the guitar and bass riff. Look at the transcription and you’ll see that the drums enter on bar seven with sixteenth notes played in unison on the bass drum, snare and floor tom. Increase the volume across these two bars to build the intensity along with the rest of the band.

At this point the chorus theme enters which is sixteenth notes played on slushy hi-hats, back beat on two and four and a syncopated two bar bass drum pattern that ends with three crashes on the and of three, beat four, and the and of four. This is a recurring theme through all the choruses. On bar nine of the chorus there is a one bar break where you play quarter notes on the hats on beats one, two and three followed by a sixteenth note fill on beat four.

On the verses the hi-hat pattern is played on closed hats, opening up on beats two and four. You should play the sixteenths with one hand but try to lay into the eighth notes to give it the right rock/hip-hop feel. The bass drum pattern is slightly different from the chorus and now there is a crash accent on the e of beat four in every second bar. Listen to the track while reading the transcription to make sure you understand what’s happening.

Watch out for the bridge section where Brad switches to the ride cymbal and opens up with some little fluctuations on the bass drum and crashes. You might want to practice these in isolation at a slower tempo before playing along to the record.

If you listen to the lyrics of the tune you’ll quickly realize the meaning an intent of the song. “Burn! Burn, yes ya gonna burn!” Make sure that your playing matches that attitude, intensity and level of aggression.

Now Kill It! DN


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