It wasn’t so much the sound of Rage Against The Machine that made them stand out, though that was, of course, unique — it was the subject matter of the lyrics; the fact that they were on message and in your face about it. They hit people’s consciousness at a point when there wasn’t much political savvy in the music scene, at least not pointed and overt politicism. A lot of rage elsewhere was directionless and therefore to a degree pointless — that perhaps is not that strange given people’s political attitude or general apathy; angry but not sure what they should be angry about.
Zack De La Rocha pointed to real sources of rage and they made people think. I said earlier that it wasn’t so much the sound that made them stand out, well, it more than held your interest — it invigorated you and they did sound different to a lot of stuff that was out there. Yeah, you can badge them with rap-rock or some such shit but whereas a lot of the bands loosely grouped under that umbrella term were jocks the same couldn’t be levelled at RATM.
Their best album was their first, and though I wouldn’t say it was a case of the law of diminishing returns, the later albums, even if the single releases maintained it, lacked that focus. They still stand out amongst their peers and there is still nothing that really equates to what they brought to the arena — no one really picked up the torch.