The notion of a supergroup just seems to scream "Hey, we used to be in amazing bands, so you'll love our new supergroup!". This qualifies with Audioslave, ashes from the nineties that were birthed from giant-like groups like Rage Against The Machine
. While Audioslave are a so-called "supergroup", it doesn't seem on paper that the formula of two somewhat different bands would appeal to man, but Audioslave can about in 2002 with the massive hit Like A Stone
which seemed to hook album sales like a fisherman hooks a worm. This is the story of Audioslave's first album, Audioslave.
Chris Cornell (Soundgarden): Vocals
Tom Morrello (RATM): Guitar
Tim Commerfield(RATM): Bass
Brad Wilk(RATM): Drums
What emerges from all the hype around Audioslave, which is a rather rediculous amount, is an album that can pack a major punch but also gets extremely repetetive. The formula usually consists of 1-2-punch drums, bass that just simply follows the somewhat simple and repetetive guitar, save for a few effect-fueled solos, and a wailing, screaming and occasionally hissy-fit throwing Cornell. As simple and incredibly boring as this sounds, the formula works for all the songs, but alas most of the songs follow the same formula. It gets boring in there. Extremely boring. That's why, when in doubt, you throw in a few ballads and things seem to be equally balanced. It's not on this album. Roughtly 3 softer songs just seem to get sucked in with the blunt rock songs, which sometimes slip to the embarrasingly low level in mainstream rock: singing about Gasoline.
The few awesome songs here are the ballads. Not the heavy-hearted, piano driven sap fests that souldn't bite a hot dog, but rather the ones with a little bit of a rock, folk or country twist. The rock song, Like A Stone
, may seem to belong in the catagory that enslaves the rest of the rock album, but also adds a touch of sensetivity to the mix. The slow, painful and death-trudge like chant of the drums are the perfect compliment to the choppy guitar riff and *gasp!* non-similar bass! The slow and trudging feel of the song seems to disintigrate as the chorus rolls around, which has a very powerful and strong performance from Cornell and the guys, with the simple chords in a phased effect, and the simple and hard hitting drums duke it out with the rumbling bass. The solo, which is a classic one, no doubt, has a ferocity to it not heard since Rage's stuff, but also balances it out with a melan-colic, Black Hole Sun kind of feel. The result is pretty amazing and brilliant, which brings this frankly brilliant song to a finish. The country/folk influenced I Am The Highway
would have fit well with a Beatles album, with it's somewhat acoustic guitar strumming those familiar chords and 1---2-3-4 bass rhythm, but when Chris' vocals come in, it brings that sad, agile and versatile stylings of Like A Stone
, but comes to an empowering feel in the chorus, which rides smooth with the phased lead guitar strumming along to the lead acoustic, and the keepin' on rhythm section. The solo is something worth a drool or two also.
As said before, some songs are embarassingly simple. The constant drone of three chords seem to echo through the majority of the album. The overly dramatic rock of Gasoline
seems fitting on the album. It's a head banging, fist pumping anthem that doesn't have an ounce of intellegence in either it's music or lyrics, and the simple feel wears off after the opening riff. Unfortunately, they start singing about my least favorite song subject, gasoline, throughout the song. It seems to limit the music to pure, post-grunge, post-metal rock that wouldn't sound home on a Nickelback
album. This simplicity is a recurring issue. Every song has its fair amount of interesting points and times, but the whole power chord and insane solo combo gets old fast. Without the screaming rage of Zack de la Rocha, it's just garage rock at it's minimal point. It's also a fact that Chris Cornell is one of the better singers recently, and his voice sounds welcome with the rest of Rage. But, alas, Chris should be getting tired from screaming all of the time, and his voice seems to be losing it's beautiful edge. Fortunately, when he's not
screaming (rare), he can have a frankly astonishing voice.
Don't give you're hopes up. This album has pretty much two sides to it. The sensitive man ballads versus the ripped jean garage rock. It's nothing new, and the only thing that remains interesting in this album is the softer side, consisting of only a few song, which could've, quite frankly, made this album a fantastic album. The lack of beauty, passion and, ultimately, triumphant influence in the blunt-rock songs make them less soothing to the ears, but it's fair to say that rockers are more listenable than others, to say the least. Songs like Set It Off
can tear your head off, or take you back to a magical musical place called the nineties, where distortion didn't necessarily mean several power chords hammered on top of each other and being labeled a song. No, Audioslave create a scale-laced riff that provides the brain and brawn needed in a rock song. It's overall a very unforgiving yet ultimately enjoyable song that can rock. The other side of the rock songs appear to have less of an appeal, and rely on power chords, screaming vocals and semi-interesting solos to make it a complete song. It doesn't work too often, but Shadow On The Sun
makes it a prime example that rockers don't have to rock all the time. It's a soemn piece at first, but can bite your head of in an instant. Plus it boasts the better of Tom's soloing techniques.
So, that's it. This is Audioslave's first album, and from what I understand it will not be the most memorable at all. It ends up being an incredibly average release that serves as a dissapointment from the legacy of their predecessing bands. Bands like Soundgarden
and Rage Against The Machine
sounded new, fresh and exciting, while these guys sound nice but don't come out as original in the least. In conclusion, this album has it's ups and downs, but ultimately come down to a solid album with a few catchy songs and a few ballbreakers, but also a few mindless rockers that encourage fist pumping rather than thoughtful nodding along, but this may be best for some listeners. So, this album is worth purchasing if you played with Rage Against the Machine
, and also if you like a good, hard-hitting rocking time.