Music Reviews
Tom Morello and the Bloody Beetroots

Tom Morello and the Bloody Beetroots

The Catastrophists EP

Comandante LLC

Tom Morello was all set to take on the world with a reunited Rage Against the Machine in 2020, then the plague hit and the world went off its axis. Frustrating for Tom and a lot of other people as well. Morello channeled his frustration into long distance collaboration with the Italian EDM project, the Bloody Beatroots. Tom sent some scratch recordings of riff ideas to the Beatroots. The Beatroots sent back devastatingly heavy industrial grooves and the Catastrophists project was born.

The Catastrophist EP collects seven tracks of politically charged, riff heavy, industrial/metal songs. Morello called on other activist musicians to being to life nightmare visions of human depravity. The opening track, “The Devil’s Infantry,” finds Morello doing his best Tom Waits/William Burroughs apocalyptic narration over atmospheric electronics. He describes devastation that could be Sherman’s March to the Sea or the Taliban creeping across Afghanistan. The time or place is irrelevant because the horror of total war is the same.

An all star group of female provocateurs join Tom on “Radium Girls.” including Aimee Interrupter, White Lung’s Mish Way, and The Last Internationale’s Delila Paz and Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova. The Radium Girls were the victims of industrial negligence in the early 20th century. Young women were knowingly exposed to radioactive paint used for luminous watch faces. Hundreds of women suffered horribly as the radiation quite literally dissolved their jawbones. The legal protections for workers that came out of the resulting court cases make the Radium Girls martyrs in labor history. As a youth, Tom spent summers in Ottawa, Illinois where those infamous watch factories once existed.

Chilean/French singer Ana Tijoux lends her voice to “Lightning Strikes.” The song is a fierce remembrance of the 2014 Iguala Mass Kidnapping where local police arrested 43 Mexican college students, who were then, turned them over to the Guereos Unidos crime syndicate. Tom and Ana sing about the murder of the kidnapped students so they won’t be forgotten. “Keep Going” is a narrative that could be about runaway slaves in Antebellum America. “Want a taste of freedom? Keep going.” Tom connects the struggle to escape bondage in America to the refugees leaving their homes seeking freedom from military and gang violence, economic and political oppression for a better life somewhere else.

If anyone needed a kick in the ass to rouse them from pandemic induced lethargy, The Catastrophist EP will do the trick. Tom Morello and his collaborators fuse social commentary; monster riffs and incendiary guitar work to get assess shaking and minds working. We’re all in this together, like it or not.

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