A few years ago when it was announced that former Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell would be joining forces with three quarters of Rage Against The Machine (after the departure of singer Zack de la Rocha) expectations were high. Rage Against The Machine and Soundgarden had been two of the best rock bands from the 1990s and the public was eager to hear what kind of collaboration this new supergroup would make. Would this supergroup, Audioslave, live up to the hype? For the most part, the answer was a resounding yes. Audioslave delivered. While some RATM and Soundgarden fans alike were disappointed, Audioslave’s self-titled debut was a strong collection of songs that pleased most fans.
Now, almost three years later, Audioslave is back for their second release “Out of Exile” an album that surpasses the debut. Although Audioslave’s self-titled debut is a strong album, when it was recorded, Chris Cornel was still new to the rest of the band-guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk. Now, after three years of touring and already having one album under their belt, the band seems to have really jelled. All four members seem to have found a common ground and found what works and sounds best for the group as a whole. Audioslave seems more like a band now than just a supergroup, or an all-star collaboration of 90s alt. rock superstars.
“Out of Exile” is essentially a straight-ahead rock album, with a real classic rock feel. This is hardly surprising when you consider that although Rage Against The Machine incorporated elements of rap and hip-hop into their formula, a lot of their riffs were firmly rooted in classic rock. And as was the case with the debut, the band has, for the most part, written songs more on the melodic side, to fit the style of the soulful Chris Cornell, as opposed to the rap/hip-hop styling of Zack de la Rocha. But as was the case with the debut, the band hasn’t abandoned their sound. You can definitely hear Rage Against The Machine in Audioslave, it’s just that the rap/hip elements have been left behind and a more classic rock sound has been embraced. As previously stated, the band seems to have really jelled, so the songs on “Out of Exile” sound tighter than those on the debut and the band seems more focused. In short, compared to the debut, “Out of Exile” is a leaner, meaner album.
All twelve tracks on “Out of Exile” are quite strong. It’s pretty much all killer and no filler. The CD has a good pace and never runs out of stream or looses momentum. Some of the songs, like the opening fast-paced “Your Time has Come, “Out of Exile” and “Man or Animal” sound very RATM-ish and probably could have been re-worked for Zack de la Rocha. These songs should please fans who have been missing RATM. Some of the album is more melodic, like the tuneful “Be Yourself,” “Don’t Remind Me” and the gorgeous “Dandelion.” Fans of Soundgarden/Chris Cornell should be pleased with those. But all of the songs are tinged with elements of classic rock. “The Worm” actually sounds somewhat similar to Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog,” off their “ZOSO” album. So whether you’re primarily a fan of Rage, Chris Cornell/Soundgarden or classic rock, there is something on “Out of Exile” for everyone.
Tom Morello has proved to be one of the best guitarists of the last twenty years. He’s not only technically a solid player, but he has also come up with some of the catchiest and creative riffs in years. With “Out of Exile,” Morello has come up with a new batch of songs that both bare his signature and expand upon his previous work. Morello has always had a knack for coming up with catchy and creative riffs, that sound both fresh and unique. His fans will not be let down with this release.
Bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk have shown to be one of the most exciting and dynamic rhythm sections of the last twenty years. They have proved to be more than just the backdrop to let Morello do his thing. Their playing is thoroughly commanding, electrifying, and intense. They were essential to Rage’s, and now Audioslave’s sound.
Vocalist Chris Cornell has been universally hailed as one of the best singers in rock. And while he is undoubtedly a great singer, he is also a gifted songwriter. The chemistry between Cornell and the rest of the band has grown stronger and his soulful delivery seems well-suited for the classic rock styling of Morello. Although in all honesty, Cornell is not quite the singer that he once was. He still has a fine voice, but it seems strained at times. He can’t quite make those screams the way he used to.
While “Out of Exile” isn’t quite up there with such classics as “Rage Against The Machine” (1992), “The Battle of Los Angeles” (1999), “Badmotorfinger” (1991), or “Superunknown” (1994), it’s still a very strong album. If you liked RATM, Soundgarden, or Audioslave’s debut, you should be pleased with this one.