Audioslave is sure to become a super group
In 2000, the politically charged band Rage Against the Machine stepped off its soapbox and called it quits after its once revolutionary musical style had become nothing more than an opportunity for the Fred Dursts of the world to become famous. Now, two years after Rage's self destruction, the band is back, but with a new voice and a new name, Audioslave.
The new voice is that of Chris Cornell (don't worry, he doesn't rap), ex-lead singer and once guitarist for the grunge band Soundgarden. An unlikely combination? Of course it is, but what might seem like one of the worst ideas ever is instead the new front-runner for the best rock record of the year. Audioslave's self-titled debut is as hard hitting as any Rage album, even if Cornell's voice lacks the ferocity of Zach de la Rocha's glass-shattering screams.
Brad Wilk's less-is-more approach to drumming, and Tim Commeford's melodic bass playing anchor the band, but it's Tom Morello's innovative and often amazing guitar playing that's the real star.
Although Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave are musically similar, lyrically they are opposites. Zach de la Rocha's endless streams of political rants have been replaced by Cornell's terrifically introspective lyrics, which actually work in the band's favor, as they are much easier to relate to. Lyrics like, "Friends and liars, don't wait for me, I'll get on all by myself, I put millions of miles under my heels and still too close to you I feel," for instance, are much easier to swallow than, say, "You've got a bullet in your head!"
However, Cornell is a doubled-edged sword. Although his vocals are usually perfect, he occasionally slips into a Brian Johnson (of AC/DC) impression that is almost painful to listen to. Luckily, except on the album's first single, the bombastic "Cochise," it's not a problem.
Even when the vocals falter, however, the rest of the band is at the height of its game. Thanks to Cornell's singing abilities, they are free to venture into areas that weren't even an option in Rage, namely the heavy, free-flying ballads on the album. Tracks like the ambitious "The Last Remaining Light" combine quirky guitar sounds with a solid bass groove to create an almost indescribable sound. Others, like "Getaway Car," (the catchiest song on the album) will make Rage fans question why the band was ever fronted by a rapper instead of a singer in the first place.
Don't think, though, that the members have grown mellow in their old age. The riotous noise of songs like "Set if Off" and "Gasoline" prove that the band hasn't forgotten how to rock, and thankfully so.
If their debut is any sign of the future, Audioslave is sure to become a super group for the ages. Led by Morello's out-of-this world guitar heroics, the band is sure to achieve heights never even imagined by the members' former bands. Audioslave might never be as important as Rage Against the Machine or Soundgarden, but unlike those bands, Audioslave's purpose isn't to change the world, just to fill it with great music. (4 stars out of 5)
Slisz is a junior at John Marshall High School. To respond to reviews in Sound &; Vision, call 252-1111, category TEEN (8336); write Teen Beat, Post-Bulletin, P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903-6118 or send e-mail to email@example.com.