It’s 1992 all over again. Ten years ago, Nirvana graced the charts, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell screamed with passion and intensity on radios across the country, and Rage Against The Machine blew away listeners with its hard-rocking, complex, chaotic sounds. Today, it seems, history is repeating itself. Nirvana has a new hit CD, Cornell is still screaming his head off, and Rage is still rocking hard. Only this time there’s a twist. Soundgarden is no more, and singer Zack de la Rocha has parted ways with Rage. This combination of circumstances is what allowed Audioslave to come to be. Featuring Cornell on vocals, Audioslave creates a sonic onslaught aimed directly at the listener with their debut self-titled album. Ex-Rage members Tom Morello (guitar), Tim Commerford (bass), and Brad Wilk (drums) provide huge chunks of hard rock riffage for Cornell to cry, moan, and wail over. Morello, as always, is especially brilliant on the album, creating noises with his guitar that would make Jimi Hendrix turn green with envy. As a whole, Audioslave leans much more towards hard rock than the hip-hop and funk-laden grooves of Rage Against the Machine. The album is loud, powerful, and hits hard. Cornell sings here with conviction unheard since his Soundgarden days. The album begins with what sounds like a helicopter along with a steady, hard drumbeat. That “helicopter” is Morello’s guitar, which soon explodes into the hard-rocking sonic frenzy known as “Cochise.” The song, which is pure headbanging fun, is a tribute to a great Native American chief. Morello explains, “Cochise was the last great American Indian chief to die free and absolutely unconquered. When several members of his family were captured, tortured, and hung by the U.S. Cavalry, Cochise declared war on the entire Southwest and went on an unholy rampage, a warpath to end all warpaths. He and his warriors drove out thousands of settlers. Cochise the Avenger, fearless and resolute, attacked everything in his path with an unbridled fury. This song kinda sounds like that.” Other headbangers on the album include “Set it Off,” which is simply rock mayhem, and “Bring `Em Back Alive,” reminiscent of Black Album-era Metallica, minus Kirk Hammet’s mindless guitar wanking. There’s more to the album than pure headbanging, though. One of the great things about the record is its use of dynamics. On several tracks, notably “Exploder,” the verses are delicate and intricate, and all of the sudden the choruses just, well, explode out of nowhere with raw bombast, allowing the songs to simultaneously portray both dark, mellow moods, and more aggressive emotions. Besides “Cochise,” the real gem on this album is “Like a Stone.” The song features extremely refined guitar work from Morello, which perfectly blends retro and modern styles in order to create a mood that gradually shifts from dreary to hopeful. The only track on the album that really misses is “What You Are,” which features absurdly loud guitars in the chorus that drown out the vocals and sound too melodious, which doesn’t quite fit with their heavily distorted sound. The songs on the album don’t seem to flow as well as they could, but “What You Are” aside, they are all very good songs, with deceptively complex arrangements and a variety of emotions expressed. So if you want an album that flows like a river, telling a musical story as it goes, Audioslave may not be for you. But if you want an album that is sure to satisfy any headbanger’s craving for pure, unadulterated, bombastic hard rock, look no further than this album.
The debut of thundering supergroup Audioslave–featuring members of Rage Against the Machine post-Zack de la Rocha with ex-Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell–is as much curio as fascinating blend of visions. Cornell might be outnumbered, but his unmistakable holler and nihilistic imagery ensure that Audioslave, the album, recalls early Soundgarden. That’s especially true since de la Rocha took Rage’s signature rap and politicking with him. Still, if this is Soundgarden, it’s Soundgarden set to stun. Rage guitarist Tom Morello is more of a mauler than Kim Thayil ever was–witness ”Shadow on the Sun,” which moves from bruising thud to psychedelic freak-out and back again–while the Rage rhythm section of Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk anchor the bottom end with pure instrumental cement. Intentionally or not, ”Gasoline” bears passing resemblance to ”Rusty Cage,” while the sweeping ”I Am the Highway” and slow-burning ”The Last Remaining Light” best showcase Cornell’s surprisingly New Age-y lyrical bent. Cover art by Storm Thorgerson, who gave Pink Floyd records their distinctive stamp, underscores the set’s inherent celebrity. Fans of Rage and Soundgarden can raise clenched fists in unison, for Audioslave is win-win. –Kim Hughes
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Audioslave’s debut album proves that great rock music is still alive. I don’t understand how one reviewer said that this album is “Excellent, but disappointing” — those 2 words just don’t go together — and also the complaints that this album sounds like “yet another grunge retread” and that “it doesn’t live up to expectations” — Give me a break! This CD not only lives up to my expectations, but far exceeds them. I had already heard the first two singles “Show Me How To Live” and “Like a Stone”, and loved them, but thought that the rest of the album would probably sound like any other repetitive rock album. After hearing the great 3rd single “I Am the Highway”, i finally bought the album. And I was completely wrong about any negative assumptions i had made! There really isn’t one bad song on the entire CD. Each and every track has great vocals from Chris Cornell and superb guitar work and instrument sounds supplied by the rest of the band. But I think the album should have ended with “Getaway Car” because it would have been the perfect ending to a phenomenal CD. That song is mellow yet extremely passionate, i love it! I cannot wait to hear Audioslave’s next album because i can only invision them getting better and better. If you don’t already own this album, go buy it NOW!
Audioslave just may be the force that can save rock and bring the music scene back to the meaningful and emotionally rich state that it has not known since the early 90s grunge period. If this is the case, it would be the second time that the amazing Chris Cornell helped saved rock. After all Soundgarden predates Nirvana as a fundamental part of the grunge movement, which purged rock of the disgrace known as hairmetal. Audiosalve, however, shows potential to be greater than Soundgarden (or for that matter Rage Against the Machine) ever was. It is a merging of what is, without a doubt, the best parts of the two bands. Cornell’s voice is certainly one of the best in rock history and Morello is an absolute genius whose riffwriting ability is compairable to that of Jimmy Page and whose exploration into new sounds with a guitar is remeniscent of Jimmy Hendrix. Of course the crisp, and tight rythm section cannot be overlooked. Brad Wilk and Tim Cummerford’s flawless playing provide a solid backbone for Audioslave. The Album is completely satisfying from beginning to end. It is quite diverse and incredibly succesful in all the areas which it explores. Hard rock anthems like Cochise and What you Are will make you just want to get up and scream along with Cornell while Ballads like Getaway Car and I Am the Highway are sure to move you. Like a Stone and Shadow on the Sun are epic masterpieces which will have you grabbing for a lighter. Both of these two are adorned with quitar solos that are both stunning and groundbreaking. You won’t soon find a better buy than this treasure so I recomend supporting the rebirth of true rock by buying one for yourself and one for a loved one right now!
When I first heard Cornell hooking up with the Rage Band, I as well had my doubts – But they were all proven wrong, this CD is amazing. Chris Cornell’s voice/singing brings class back into rock. The members of the band show there true colors, now swaying away from that monotone “Fight the System” style they had when Zack was headman – Tom Morello, Timmy C, and Brad Wilks finally show that they can put out classical rock beats. Tom Morello -. He keeps his signature guitar sound, which I absolutely love about Morello – He has the “distinct” guitar sound that differs from everything you hear on the radio. And along with that, he brings back his creative, well-slapped together solos that I have been missing since Rage departed. Timmy C – is probably one of the most underrated basses ever (along with Tool’s Justin C.) Him and Tom, like they did in Rage, coordinate very well together – He as well has “distinct” bass sound that differs from a lot of other bands. His bass lines flows so perfect with AudioSlave. He has definitely stepped up to the plate and improved. Brad Wilks – I have always thought of him as just an average drummer, and when playing alongside guys like Tom and Tim, it’s hard to be the spotlight in drumming. His style hasn’t changed much, although when I heard the song “Hypnotize” It reassured me that he does have the capabilities to do more then just keep a beat. Chris Cornell – The once lead singer of the grunge band SoundGarden, shows his 38 year old voice can still out-due any other rock voice on the radio. Not only did he do vocals for this album, but I also hear he helped write some bridges for the album when the Rage band was stumped. There are a few songs on this album that stood out quite well to me, and are my personal favorites. “Hypnotize” was quite a shocker to me, the techno style drumming by Brad is really awesome, and Tom and Tim put together a nice flowing style to complement it, and Cornell’s voice kind of gives off a eerie feeling. “Like a Stone” I’m sure is the favorite for SoundGarden fans – This song reminds me of SoundGarden, just with the Rage tone; but I really like it, the solo is also very cool. “Exploder” is a hard-hitting track that I really love. “Cochise”, the hit-single is just a constant headbanging song. “Gasoline” and “Show Me How to Live” give out the head-nodding beats that make you wanna sing along. “Getaway Car” “The Last Remaining Light” “I Am the Highway” are the slow, more paced out songs, but they are wonderful for just relaxing in your room. Chris sings beautifully on these 3 tracks (if you didn’t like his voice in Cochise, then give these 3 songs a try). Timmy C does a flat-out awesome bass line in “Shadow on the Sun” which probably is my #1 favorite track on this whole CD. “Light my Way” reminds me of the 80’s for some reason, perhaps it’s just the way Cornell sings that chorus, but this song is sweet – The chorus is addicting and reminds me of “Bulls on Parade”. “Set if Off” has grown on me, it didn’t have much appeal at first, but the more I listen to it the more I gain an appreciation for it, especially the intro, which is just classical Tom. “What you Are” is extremely radio friendly, wouldn’t be surprised if this is the second single the radio plays. “Bring Em Back Alive” is an interesting song – The intro is very smooth, the chorus is nice, but I think Tom overdid it with the Amp Feedback on the solo; that and the voice effects on Chris didn’t seem to do it for me. Other then those two things, the song is actually very good, and is growing on me. Rating for entire CD: 9/10 – Lots of variety; blows away a lot of the ‘garbage’ on the radio today. It’s hard to determine where ‘exactly’ to place this CD, it’s certainly better then anything Papa Roach, Linkin Park, POD, Disturbed, etc. will ever put out. I would probably place this CD in the same category that Incubus or System of a Down is in; its not “revolutionary” but certainly the best darn album I have heard this year – If you are like me, and thought this year was a disappointing year for Rock, heh, this album fixes that. This band is definitely here to stay, and will also put on a great live show, considering every sound you hear on this CD is done with guitar, drum, bass, and vocals – No samples, no keyboards. I’m sure RATM fans are aware of that already.
First off, there those who rather sneeringly refer to Audioslave as a “super group” are off the mark; whatever this album may (or may not) be it is nothing if not sincere. If they were in it solely for the money, Audioslave certainly could have made a more commercial album, instead they stretched their legs artistically, and while they don’t always succeed, they certainly make a game of it.By way of some background, Audioslave is made up of Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden fame, on vocals with Tom Morello (lead guitar), Tim Commerford (bass), and Brad Wilk (drums) all formerly of Rage Against the Machine rounding out the group. The funny thing is, I was never a particularly big fan of either band, but the match-up intrigued me. As Henry Rollins once said, Cornell’s voice can, “peel paint off the walls”, and I always liked Rage’s fusion of funk and rock, personified in Morello’s remarkable guitar playing. The problem was, Zach de la Rocha’s self-consciously political lyrics ruined the music for me (what rhymes with `Zapatista’?). With de la Rocha’s ouster, I saw a lot of potential, and while the end result is a mixed bag, it’s more than worth the price.The first three tracks on this album (“Cochise”, “Show Me How To Live”, and “Gasoline”) are flat out rockers. There is no one thing about them that makes them stand out; it’s just an all out group effort with excellence at every level. “Cochise” in particular is a brilliant combination of the stripped down grunge we would have heard Cornell recording a decade ago, and the flourishes that are Morello’s hallmark.The fourth track, “What You Are” foreshadows some of the difficulties found later in the album. Morello, gets stuck in a pretty dull chord progression for most of the song, and when he finally breaks out with a truly remarkable riff (sort of a melodic, electronic version of a catfight, if that makes any sense) it seems oddly disconnected from the rest of the song.”Like A Stone” is the first single off the album, and rightfully so as it represents the best fusion of Soundgarden and Rage on the album. Cornell’s voice is in fine form soaring to ear-piercing shrieks only to dip down to a steady rumble and then back again. In addition, Morello’s guitar work is nothing short of breathtaking; I don’t even know how to begin to describe it other than that it is the perfect counterpoint to Cornell’s voice and some of the most original and creative stuff I have heard in a long time.”Set It Off” seems to be Cornell’s nod to Rage’s political base, and while it’s not a bad song (in fact it’s a pretty good tune) it seems oddly out of context on the album. Moreover, Cornell, a multimillionaire pushing forty singing “…set it off now children…” is more than a little amusing.If “Like A Stone” is a perfect fusion of what was, then track seven, “Shadow of the Sun” is the best example of what may be to come. This track goes beyond fusing elements successfully, and creates something new. Morello’s guitar swoops and soars, never settling in one place for long. In the hands of a less talented musician it would be pretentious and tedious, but with Morello it’s just sheer brilliance. At the same time, Cornell’s singing reveals a more contemplative side, a certain maturity, which only adds to the power of his voice.It’s followed up by another excellent cut in “I Am The Highway” which contains some of my favorite lyrics. Cornell explores relativity as he stays the same as friends and lovers come and go.Track nine, “Exploder” is a pretty good tune, but there’s nothing about it that one takes notice of.The next track, “Hypnotize” is a funny little song that I rather like; but I’m not sure that it’s the right direction for Cornell. Specifically, he has a delivery that borders on the spoken word, and while there’s nothing wrong with that per se, I’m not sure he has the right kind of voice for it. An Ed Vedder, for example, would be better suited to the kind of delivery he’s going for. Nonetheless, I really like this one, and it features perhaps the best drum work on the album.Tracks 11 and 12 are far and away my least favorite on the album. Both “Bring Em Back Alive” and in particular, “Light My Way” offer performances that are more reminiscent of a cookie cutter heavy metal track than anything one would expect from artists of this caliber. The one exception here is the superb guitar solo (one of the few extended solos on the album) that is completely wasted on “Bring Em Back Alive”; Morello really gets experimental on that one, and the drums are excellent, but the song just doesn’t live up to the effort.Next is “Getaway Car”, which has an interesting, bluesy sort of beat, and vocal arrangements that vaguely remind me of Gospel/Soul (believe it or not).Finally, the album wraps up with the rather forgettable “The Last Remaining Light”. Frankly, the whole band seems a little bored with this one, and while it’s not awful, I can’t imagine ever skipping ahead to get to it.In the end that’s eight good-to-great songs, three good ones, and three I could have lived without. Generally speaking, I would be ecstatic to get eleven solid tracks off an album, and in this instance that’s certainly true. While Audioslave’s first effort doesn’t quite live up to all the expectations and hype (could any album have?) it is still well above average, and is a great listen. If you want to hear why there may yet be hope for rock in this age of borderline psychotic rock-rap a la Limp Bizkit and the derivative drudgery of Creed or Nickelback, the self-titled “Audioslave” is more than worth checking out.Jake Mohlman