Audioslave is what the industry likes to mistakenly market as a “super-group.” Chris Cornell, former Soundgarden frontman, has teamed with the remaining members of Rage Against the Machine to form what is supposed to be the best of both worlds.
Their debut album, sounding forced and too contrived, falls short of these expectations.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some bitchin’ tracks on this album, but do they come close to the quality of Soundgarden songs? No. Do they come close to the best of RATM? That’s another negative.
Rick Rubin himself sat down with these guys to produce this record. Unfortunately between all of them together they couldn’t figure out a way to combine oil and water.
The album’s salvation is the more ballad-oriented songs such as “Like a Stone,” “I Am the Highway” and “The Last Remaining Light.” These songs are good, but they don’t display the power of either band in this project.
“Like a Stone” goes from Tom Morello’s lightly distorted fender sound to a signature digital-delay solo then down to acoustic strumming then back again.
“I Am the Highway” sounds more like it was written solely by Cornell. The song has great lyrics, “I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway. I am not your carpet ride, I am the sky,” reverberating through the chorus, then back to the acoustic verses.
“The Last Remaining Light” is a good closing track, with an unexpected octave solo by Morello in the Wes Montgomery tradition.
The song that comes the closest to these two groups finding amalgamation is the explosive “Set it Off.” It is undoubtedly Rage behind Cornell, but they find common ground with the vocals screaming “Set it off, set it off now children, set a fire.”
When all is said and done, there are some good tracks, but the album as a whole is choppy to say the least. Hopefully, the band will travel in a third direction on their next record.
You can find this album at your favorite local record store. For any information on the band, see www.audioslave.com.