on 23 January 2003
After a mountain of hype and a couple of false starts, Audioslave finally release their first album. The problem with a group like this (like you didn't know, 3/4 Rage, 1/4 Soundgarden) is that even before people have heard them - and music critics in particular - it's too easy to dismiss them as a gimmick, or to attempt to pigeonhole the music before you hear it.
Strangely I've read the odd review slating the lyrics as OTT, which to me is completely ridiculous. Yes, a lot of the lines are very reaching psychedelically, but with Chris Cornell's voice sounding better (and showing better range than ever before), it's so right! Anyway, slagging off they lyrics just points back to the original naysayers looking for flaws.
So, to the music. Tom Morello said a while back that this album would show how wrong people are to suggest that rock returned with chumps like The Vines, and how right he was. The opening track sets the tone, sounding a perfect amalgamation of RATM and Soundgarden. 'Cochise' has to be one of the best opening tracks to an album ever, with Cornell's voice the absolute epitomy of 'rock vocals' while the frenzied drumming and ever present guitar creat a truly brilliant tune.
Tracks like 'Gasoline', 'What You Are' and (next single) 'Like a Stone' continue in this vein, until you get to 'I Am the Highway'. This song is the business, the kind of rock (I'm loathe to say this) 'ballad' that just isn't around these days. Cornell's voice is at it's most sensitive here and, coupled with some of the aforementioned lyrics ("I am not your autumn moon, I am the night") this is an epic rock tune in the finest 70s mould. As a single, it could potentially be huge.
With tunes like 'Light my Way' and 'Last Remaining Light' to come, there's enough variety here to suggest a long career for Audioslave. Every part of the group seems to have had an equal say so that while you'll recognise RATM and Soundgarden, this is unmistakably something else. Something better in my opinion and, considering Superunknown and RATM's debut in their back catalogues, that about sums up this album.
One final thought is that, obviously just in my opinion, what makes this album is Chris Cornell. They guy is a total one off with a voice that suggests he could rip your head off one minute and recite poetry with the next. The best rock vocals of a generation.
So, in conclusion, go buy the album. It's fresh and important.
on 20 November 2002
“Audioslave”, the long-awaited collaboration between ex-Soundgarden vocalist and occasional guitarist Chris Cornell and “the other three” from Rage Against the Machine, is finally here. And it’s very, very good. The lead-off track, “Cochise”, was a wily choice as a single, as it suckers the public with just what they’re expecting: Rage-style hard-rock backing topped with Soundgarden-style screaming from Cornell. However, the rest of the LP reveals that there’s more to Audioslave than the sum of their old bands’ parts. “The Last Remaining Light” is a widescreen number which probably deserves the dubious accolade of “epic”, if one only had the stomach to use it, and “I Am the Highway” is as grand as the title suggests.
Produced by Rick Rubin, who also produced the final Rage Against the Machine album, “Renagades”, along with such fare as the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 1991 mega-seller “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”, the album is an eclectic brew which manages to retain a cohesive identity. Rubin brings out the best in his charges, and it seems they bring out the best in one another, pushing themselves and their bandmates to new heights of endeavour. Cornell has never screamed better (or more often), but there’s a light and shade, a maturity to be found in his vocal performances that was sorely lacking from 1999’s pin-up album “Euphoria Morning”. Guitarist Tom Morello also shines, his trademark rhythmic dissonance and almost Dadaist approach to guitar soloing joined here by playing of remarkable emotional depth. Who would have thought that the man who gave us “Bombtrack” could also play the blues? “Audioslave” demonstrates that indeed he can. It would seem churlish, having praised Cornell and Morello so highly, to neglect the bedrock upon which this remarkable album is built. Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk have always been a rhythm section of seismic impact, but here they are given room to stretch and groove in a way more smooth than earthy. Commerford’s basslines have an elasticity about them and Wilk’s drumming an adventurousness that RATM’s message-not-the-medium approach simply didn’t have room for.
To sum up, “Audioslave” is more than fans could have hoped for. While the faithful of RATM may miss Zack de la Rocha’s reactionary rapping, and Soundgarden devotees may miss the skewed-meter acrobatics of that act (they went with Matt Cameron; go buy Pearl Jam’s “Riot Act”), Audioslave is neither of these bands, and the stronger for it. The elementary power of Rage’s music is to be found on this record, as is Cornell’s primal roar. But there is more, much more within the grooves or encoded upon the compact disc as zeroes and ones. This album represents a progression for all the musicians involved, a leap into the unknown without a neglecting of the roots. This album is viable, it lives. Let’s hope there’s more to come.
on 20 November 2002
Wow! This is an amazing album! I was, and still am, a huge fan of Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine so I had been eagerly awaiting the release of this one. Like others I was unsure of how Chris Cornell's voice would fit with the music, but after a mere minute of the album I realised how wrong I'd been! He always had a great voice, and it sounds as fantastic and emotional as ever. This should come as no surprise to Soundgarden fans of course, but what is surprising is how well it melds with the music.
This album is so much more than just Chris singing over the top of Rage riffs. Tom Morello, Brad Wilk, and Tim Commerford continue to sound innovative and inspiring, but have adapted their mucial direction somewhat to fit more closely with Chris's awesome voice. The Rage influence is still obvious of course (see opening track "Cochise" for a particualrly Rage-like example!), but there are some important differences which give "Audioslave" a sound all of their own. Some of those Tom Morello guitar sounds are truly amazing! They may have shed Rage's overt political edge, but Chris's existential lyrics are still extremely impressive and thought-provoking, and completely relevant to the here and now
In short, this is a magnificent album and one that remains an essential purchase for fans of Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine alike, but even for those of you who don't like these two bands, there is so much going on with this album that I would still recommend it. Let's just hope it isn't a one-off album like so many releases of such so-called "supergroups" can be.
on 19 November 2002
if you thought that this album was going to be anything like RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, then you were wrong. if you thought it would be RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE with a new vocalist, you would be wrong again. if however, you thought that you were going to hear the sensational musical talents of Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk, and Tom Morello combined with the extraordinary vocal powers of Chris Cornell you would be bang on the mark. this is alternative music at its best.
explosive, high energy tracks like COCHISE are subtley blended with more mellow tracks like THE LAST REMAINING LIGHT to form a debut album of exceptional quality.
think of RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE and AUDIOSLAVE as brothers. where RAGE are the older, louder, more agressive of the two, AUDIOSLAVE are the quieter, calmer, more peacefull sibling. what both bands have in common is that they are both brilliant.
this album is perfect for anyone who calls themself a fan of rock music or a music lover in general.
on 22 January 2003
Audioslave, combines the forces of Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) and the former members of Rage Against The Machine, and has been labelled as the "Must-have" album since the demos, under the name of Civilian were leaked onto Internet.
Cornell is in his element, and his influence is striking on the album, which naturally prompts accusations of this being the follow up to Euphoria Morning, but it isn't. While there are the quirky guitar effects and the harsh percussion, the former RATM-ers have had to adapt themselves to a singer rather than a rapper- and have done a good job too. Cochise is a powerful and enigmatic way to start the album and Show Me How To Live has an irresistible hip swinging quality to it, but it isn't all hard rock. What You Are, is a fantastic slower paced offering and Getaway Car is absolutely perfect with The Last Remaining Light ending the album on a thoughtful note. Is Audioslave one of the 'albums of the year'? Undoubtedly yes, and I hope that they continue with this project for a very long time.
Audioslave were a band unknown to me until I caught the back end of one of their numbers on Planet Rock a few weeks back....but I heard the name and made a mental note and purchased a copy of their first album for less than a fiver to see whether the "sample" I'd heard would replicate throughout an entire album......and I am blown away by the pure audio aggression on display.
I was familiar with the guitar work of Tom Morello from his days with Rage Against The Machine (some of which I love - the rest I can leave!) but this is something completely out of left field and starts with the beat from Cochise that builds up into an angry roar which kind of takes you aback as this is so unexpected, the vocals rage as does the guitar and the rock steady rythmn section underpinning it all. Goodness me, but Chris Cornell has one very fine set of pipes to tackle this at full tilt! And is this a one off blinding opener? - nope, it is followed in quick succession by tracks like Gasoline, What You Are, Shadow On The Sun, Hypnotize and Getaway Car, all of which leave your audio senses reeling...the only let up being I Am The Highway...and this is no ordinary "ballad" if indeed a ballad it be, so that by the time The Last Remaining Light closes the album out you are just left feeling like you've just gone through a tornado!
Morello is no guitarist exceptionelle but what he does is hit those heavy choppy notes and chords and brings some new ideas to the premise of a solo so that at high volumes (and this really begs to be played LOUD) the music becomes hypnotic!
Seriously, having been an avid follower of music of many genres, I cannot think of anything within the last 10 years that comes close to the power this album exudes - period, and moreover, it is recorded so well that increasing volume does not cause reverberations througout the house (or car for that matter!)
I am so impressed - I've now purchased the remainder of their studio output!
on 28 November 2002
If anyone wanted to guess what Audioslave would sound like most people's general idea would have been halfway between Rage Against The Machine and Soundgarden. True to an extent, but probably more accurate to say halfway between Rage and Cornell's solo "Euphoria Morning". It would be, however, unfair to characterise Audioslave as the sum of former projects, as their music is clearly more substantial and original than that. Audioslave clearly displays a maturity of the former Rage members' style, with Cornell's amazing vocal abilities allowing the band develop a variation not seen before with this group of talented musicians. From the opening Zeppelin-esque Cochise through to Gasoline and What You Are there are the expected infectious riffs and basslines that will keep your mind awake all night. But the variety is evident on this album through more melodic and chilled tracks, such as the Last Remaining Light and Highway. Cornell is in sparkling form, demonstrating why he is one of the best vocaliists of the past decade. On the outstanding Like A Stone, Morello proves why he is the best rock guitarist of the same time period with the best lead to have been written in absolute years. The lyrics are based around social and self-realisation, blended with the most amazing songwriting you are going to hear this year. This is a monumental album, eclipsing any other offerings of 2002 so far.
The return of three-quarters of Rage Against The Machine was always going to be worth waiting for and this long anticipated debut with ex-Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell has had fans of both bands salivating in anticipation for many months.
I’ve always been a fan of RATM’s guitarist Tom Morello, dating back to pre-RATM days when he was in a little-heralded band by the name of Lock Up. They released one album back in 1990, Somethin’ Bitchin’ This Way Comes, a fine funk/metal album that deserved more success. It was Morello’s involvement that led me to buy the debut RATM album without having even heard a track. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed, although with subsequent releases I felt the band failed to develop and that Zach De La Rocha’s vocal style was limiting the sound somewhat (despite those incendiary lyrics). Exit Zach, enter Chris.
And so we get Tom’s mighty riffs, backed with that RATM backline and topped off with the vocals of perhaps the greatest modern day rock vocalist. That Cornell has a fantastic pair of lungs is beyond question, and they compliment the playing here perfectly. ‘Show Me How To Live’ showcases the voice to full effect, following on from the Zep-esque opener ‘Cochise’.
For me, the album really kicks in at tracks 4 and 5. ‘What You Are’ is a powerful slow-burner and coupled with the lighter shades of ‘Like A Stone’ they form an emotional axis to the album that will keep you coming back for more.
Elsewhere, ‘Shadow On The Sun’, ‘I Am The Highway’ and ‘Hypnotize’ stand out, and though the album suffers from that modern CD syndrome of being about ten minutes too long (some are twenty minutes too long, it has to be said) it is still well worth checking out. It’s as good as we were expecting and yet leaves room for the band to grow. Here’s to album number two.
on 25 July 2003
A band featuring Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk from Rage Against the Machine, fronted by Soundgarden's Chris Cornell are bound to receive a lot of attention. But do they live up to the hype?
For the most part, the answer would have to be 'yes'. Rather than simply sounding like Rage with a the Soundgarden vocalist, however, they take a step away from RATM's hardcore/rap metal and Soundgarden's grunge rock into a more traditional sounding hard rock.
Certainly, the riffs are trademark Morello, particularly on the likes of Zeppelin-esque opener, 'Cochise' and the explosive (no pun intended) 'Gasoline', and Cornell's wail is still very much Cornell's wail, but they still rarely sound as though they're treading old ground.
However, despite some good variety in the earlier tracks, and a couple of softer, more reflective songs, the album does tend to drag a bit towards the end, as the last few songs do become somewhat repetitive.
That aside, Audioslave are, as you would expect, a great band with a lot of potential.
on 20 December 2002
Being a RATM fan, i decided on an impulse to go out and buy this album. I had not even heard of Chris Cornell until i saw his name on the album's cover (i never listened to soundgarden).
I'm glad i did buy it.
While the Instrumental power is still around with Audioslave, with Chris Cornell's voice, this can not be classed as Rage Against The machine, Nor Soundgarden. The band has a sound, that seems highly unique.I admit though, i am finding it hard to hear Tom Morello's guitar skills without Zach De La Roca rapping over the top of them.
My personal favourites off the new album are "Cochise", "Show Me How To Live" (These two sound very RATM-like), and the other two are "Like A Stone" and "I Am The Highway". In My Opinion, these two tracks make Tom Morello's Funky guitar wizardry stand out even more, and combine greatly with Chris Cornell's voice.
If you are a fan of Soundgarden, or rage, this album is truly a must-have album. Pretty much like the film "The Matrix", the first time, it sounded odd, because i can see Zach easily rapping over "Cochise". But, it took me the second listen before i was truly addicted to it. Buy it now.