(Epic / Interscope)
3 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Jan. 6, 2003
Review by Holiday GirodThe results are in and it seems that the verdict is split between either feeling that the, so-called, supergroup coupling of Soundgarden's star shrieker Chris Cornell and Rage Against The Machine musicians Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk is either a bloated rehash of '70s hard rock or a refreshing new page in the annals of heavy metal music.
As I sit upon the fence between both camps, it's apparent that any perceived shortcomings come from the, rather unfair, comparisons to Rage Against The Machine. Despite numerous moments of explosive mayhem throughout their self-titled debut album, it definitely falls short of expectations in comparison to the one-time masters of the socio-political antagonistic rap-metal hybrid. And since I was one that personally went in with this perception, it's no wonder that this fencepost up my backside is so damn painful.
Lessening my discomfort, however, is the fact that, if comparisons are to be made, then it's Cornell's own former band that Audioslave seems to effortlessly aspire to. Picking up almost exactly where Soundgarden left off when they called it a day in 1997, the folks from Rage add more color, texture and, yes, muscle to the Soundgarden palette - incorporating Black Sabbath-sludge ("Bring Em Back Away"), brooding power ballads ("Like A Stone") and well-produced - thanks in part to Rick Rubin, return-to-form hard rocking numbers ("Set It Off," "What You Are" and "Show Me How To Live"). From the tribal rhythms of the opening track "Cochise," and iron fist wallop that cold-cocks the chorus on "Gasoline" to Morello's downward spiraling guitars and Cornell's fade out rock scatting [eat your heart out, Mel Torme!] on "Exploder" the joined forces of these two bands are as entertaining as they are promising.
While they may not be the saviors of hard rock that many had wished for, Audioslave still prove that they're certainly one of the brightest hopes we have today.
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