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Audioslave

Best New Artist

The following was originally published in our Buzz or Hype section. 

Review by Dan Grote

When you hear the word supergroup, many names come to mind: the Traveling Wilburies, Temple of the Dog, Damn Yankees. All these bands have one thing in common; they release one overhyped album and then quickly fade away (or Roy Orbison dies, in the case of the Wilburies). That being said, Audioslave is the first supergroup since Temple of the Dog to… feature Chris Cornell. The former Soundgarden frontman returns to the radar after a three year hiatus and a barely noticed but ridiculously under appreciated solo album (1999’s Euphoria Morning). This time, Cornell’s brought friends, or at least high profile bandmates, in the form of the three non-Zach de la Rocha-members of Rage Against the Machine, in an attempt to form the ultimate 90’s rock revival coup.

So let’s do the math here: Cornell’s howlin’ soul vocals, plus Tom Morello’s guitar-as-turntable art, plus Tim Commerford’s set-destroying antics, plus Brad Wilk’s… eerily well flat-ironed hair equals… Soundgarden 2: Even Louder than Love.

The truth is, the punch in the face that is “Cochise,” the lead track/single off Audioslave’s debut, is a bit misleading. What “Cochise” would lead you to believe is that Audioslave will feature Cornell screaming like it’s 1991 and that Morello will still be using his guitar as everything but a guitar non-stop for fourteen tracks. Not entirely. With the exception of a few songs, namely “Cochise,” “Like a Stone,” “Set It Off” and “Bring ‘em Back Alive,” Morello tends to downplay his legendary skills. In fact, there are quite a few songs, such as “Show Me How to Live” and “Shadow on the Sun,” wherein Morello, Commerford and Wilk sound much more like Thayil, Shepard and Cameron. 

Even scarier, “Like a Stone” and “I am the Highway” contain moments where the band appears to be drifting off toward the middle of the road, with mellow acoustic strumming and mid-vocal range white man soul that we all know Cornell is better than. 

However, all is forgiven on “Set It Off,” which, much like “Cochise,” still captures the spirit of the original bands, with Morello’s video-game wa-wa pedal fading out to reveal a low-voiced Cornell growl. Then there are surprises like “Explode,” where Cornell closes out the song with a scat routine that appears to reveal some secret love of Aerosmith. Meanwhile, the album’s blusiest track, “Getaway Car,” seems like a watered-down leftover from Cornell’s solo album, while “The Last Remaining Light” most reflects Cornell’s post-Garden/pre-slave sound.

VERDICT: It’s hard to think of Audioslave without examining the body of work that led up to its inception, albums like Superunkown and Evil Empire that helped form the soundscape of 90’s rock. It’s good to hear new work both from Cornell and Morello, and while the comparisons to Rage and Soundgarden will be made, and the band will most likely fizzle out from its own hype, there are some great moments on this album, like there were on the Temple of the Dog and Mad Season (another supergrunge group) albums. “Cochise” is one of the most legitimately hard-rocking songs on the radio right now, and what follows it is not a disappointment by any means, it’s just different for the parties involved.


CD Info 

Audioslave
Label: Epic Records/Interscope Records
Rating: 
 
Tracks:
Cochise 
Show Me How To Live 
Gasoline 
What You Are 
Like A Stone 
Set It Off 
Shadow On The Sun 
I Am The Highway 
Exploder 
Hypnotize 
Bring Em Back Alive 
Light My Way 
Getaway Car 
The Last Remaining Light
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