Chris Cornell
Scream


1.5
very poor

Review

by Ali CONTRIBUTOR (130 Reviews)
March 14th, 2009 | 112 replies | 20,053 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Chris Cornell takes a dump on his legacy with this ill-advised collaboration with pop producer Timbaland.

A quick glance at the cover of Chris Cornell’s latest album can either be horribly misleading or painfully telling, depending on how you perceive it. Those who think that the image of an airborne Cornell smashing up a guitar represents that he still has the desire and ability to rock as he has done in the past are I can tell you in for a nasty surprise. A more accurate perception would be that the cover represents Cornell ditching his guitar and past whilst taking a dump on his already threatened legacy.

Let’s get one thing straight, this is Chris Cornell, the same man who fronted Soundgarden, lending his wonderful voice to one of the most important rock bands of the nineties. At their best, Soundgarden were breathtaking, arguably reaching their peak in 1994 with Superunknown, the last true classic from the grunge movement that the band had at one stage established themselves as the leaders of. Even after their demise, the singer has lost none of his hunger, releasing two solo albums that divided both critics and fans and returning to front supergroup Audioslave to mixed but occasionally spectacular results. Today, most of his early counterparts have either broken up or faded into obscurity, but still Cornell continues to make music, retaining a high profile in penning the theme tune to Casino Royale.

Here he continues to add to his CV in hooking up with Timbaland, one of the most popular producers of modern times. But while his previous solo efforts have been patchy at best, Scream represents an all time low for Cornell. Sadly, the collaboration is just as bad as it sounds, with the singer’s raspy soulful voice sounding lost amongst the producer’s trademark beats and R&B sheen. In the run up to the release, the pair has been commenting on how the album breaches the gap between rock and R&B/Hip Hop with both artists stepping out of their comfort zones and changing directions. In reality though, Cornell is the only one who has changed, and few would argue for the better. Timbaland’s mark is all over this album, so much that it sounds like little else than one of his albums with Cornell on vocals. It’s just the same, generic, insipid and one paced music that dominates today’s charts, much of which is produced by Timberland himself.

That is not to say that all of the albums problems lie with its producer. Cornell’s vocals are far past their best, and often sound weak and fragile, a far cry from the soaring screams when he was at his best. It can still be pleasant to listen to, but has been in decline over the past decade and often gets tiring here, a matter that isn’t helped by the music he’s singing to. The songs on Scream are poor. It cannot be denied that Timbaland has been involved with some fantastic songs with the likes of Justin Timberlake (who, as it happens helped produce, write and sing backing vocals on Take Me Alive) and Nelly Furtado. But here there is just no ambition with the songwriting, with pretty much every song keeping to a painfully generic verse/chorus/verse formula, whilst keeping to the same dull one paced tempo.

The choruses are a particular low point. Once you’ve managed to withstand all of the bland beats and sounds of the verses, you are left hugely under whelmed by the choruses, which more often than not feature the same lyrics repeated over and over again on top of predictable heightened computer effects. It’s this repetitiveness that basically ruins Part Of Me, possibly the best song here and probably the only moment where the collaboration shows signs of working. Take Climbing Up The Walls for example;

You’re climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls
You’re climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls
You’re just climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls
You’re climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls

You’re climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls
You’re climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls
You’re just climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls
You’re climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls


Despite all of these negatives, credit should be given where it is due. With Scream, Cornell is at least attempting to remain relevant in hooking up with a popular modern producer. This in fairness does set him apart from his fellow grunge era musicians such as Pearl Jam in terms of ambition, with the named band continuing to live off their former glories whilst doing little to change the direction of their music. His boldness also has to be applauded, as he has risked alienation from his long term fans and ridicule from those involved in rock and metal scenes. Unfortunately for him, these risks don’t appear to have paid off, with Trent Reznor’s recent comments seemingly summing up the feelings of musicians and fans alike, and these small positives are far from enough to hide how bad Scream is.

Of all of the bad things about the album however, possibly the worst is that Scream will be some peoples first taste of Chris Cornell. What these people hear could turn them off to his past works, Soundgarden, Temple Of The Dog and Audioslave, and quite frankly, you can’t blame them. Scream is an ill-advised collaboration with which Cornell has risked ruining his legacy and credibility, and is almost sure to aggravate a backlash from fans. In a way, this could prove a good thing, as it could prompt him to return to his past style, which few would argue is worse than this. Yes, the songs are catchy to some extent, but they’re all just too generic, repetitive and overproduced to have any replay quality. Maybe he could even have another shot in a supergroup, with Velvet Revolver currently without a frontman. It might not be great, but surely it couldn’t be any worse than this…



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2009



17204 Comments


Chris Cornell circa 1993 needs to kick Chris Cornell circa 2009's ass.

taylormemer
March 14th 2009



4917 Comments


Ain't gonna happen.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2009



16083 Comments


I don't think you had much place reviewing this

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2009



17920 Comments


timberland?

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
March 14th 2009



7328 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I tried to listen to it with an open mind, and I can appreciate good hip hop/r&b, like say, FutureSex/LoveSounds, but this really is bad.

Rugter32
March 14th 2009



754 Comments


How has he gone so low, I don't know. He used to be god-like in the mid-90s.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2009



16083 Comments


"I tried to listen to it with an open mind, and I can appreciate good hip hop/r&b, like say, FutureSex/LoveSounds, but this really is bad."
yeah but what you say in the review leads me to believe that you dont really have an appreciation for even a broad section of timbalands style of music

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2009



17920 Comments


i said "timberland?" because it's not timberland it's timbaland

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
March 14th 2009



7328 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

yeah i fixed it thanks

Golgoroth
March 14th 2009



1084 Comments


You’re climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls
You’re climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls
You’re just climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls
You’re climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls

You’re climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls
You’re climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls
You’re just climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls
You’re climbing up the walls, the walls, the walls


That reminds me of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uE-1RPDqJAY

they're taking the hobbits to isengard-gard-gard-gard-gard

bastard
March 14th 2009



3435 Comments


i expected this to be horrible, as did everyone else.

good review.

ninjuice
March 14th 2009



6760 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Great review. I was just downloading this to see if I could review it but I guess I shouldn't bother with either the album or review.
I would get rid of that second paragraph of lyrics and just add "repeat" before it though.

Jimmy
March 14th 2009



717 Comments


maybe chris just hasn't listened to beyond the wheel for too long

Jimmy
March 14th 2009



717 Comments


Chris Cornell if you're reading this take a listen this is what you used to do:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTr8BNLqrOM

My early soundgarden cover band is going to lose cred because of this album, THANKS CHRIS

Relinquished
March 14th 2009



24933 Comments


Man, whatever happened to 'Soundgarden' Chris Cornell?

Spamue1G
March 14th 2009



1292 Comments


It's not that he's changed... it's just that he now sucks. Good review, it could have been a rant but you resisted it well.
I think the Velvet Revolver idea might be a good one actually, if he puts some energy back into his vocals.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
March 14th 2009



7328 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I dunno, I don't think his voice would suit their stuff with Scott Weiland. The stuff they write with him could be decent though.

Spamue1G
March 14th 2009



1292 Comments


He's got pretty varied vocals, I'm sure he could pull something off. Although I guess Slash probably isn't the top guitarist I'd pick for a collab with him.

kygermo
March 14th 2009



994 Comments


Usually Im all about Rock Stars experimenting with beats n stuff (Weilands last solo album was just that and some of it was pretty good), but this I have no hope in. Ill still listen to it but I was not surprised to see the rating.

jingledeath
March 14th 2009



7104 Comments


Excellent review. I was curious about this and might have even gotten the whole album, now I'll just check a few songs off youtube, if they're available. Previous album was alright and the Bond song was pretty good and regardless of how bad this is, it will probably turn out to be really really successful commercially and I think that's what they were aiming for.



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