Audioslave - Out of Exile
Every once in a while a band comes along that really changes the way you perceive music, for me one of these bands was Rage Against the Machine. I'll be the first to admit that I, like most angsty teenagers was lured into Rage's music by their anti-authoritarian songs, and honestly dude, they said "fuck" a whole lot. Not only did the vulgar language lure me in but instead of writing about girls and cars, they took the time to write music about something that actually mattered, politics. Gimmick or not, the music was compelling. Soon after I first heard Bulls on Parade on the radio I started to really question why I was listening to a lot of the other music that interested me at the time. Slowly I began to drift away from happy songs about love and sunshine, and turned to songs that really had a purpose. That being said, I was very excited when I first heard that one of my favorite bands of all time was going to reform, and motherfucking Chris Cornell is going to be their singer. It was like some sort of early-90s rock wet dream. Soundgarden and Rage against the Machine coming together to form a band that would revolutionize rock! Or so they all said.
Fast forward to today; Audioslave has released Out of Exile the follow-up to their self-titled debut released in 2002. Rock doesn't seem to have been revolutionized; in fact it seems almost exactly the same. Just as with their self-titled released, the band has crammed in as many publicity stunts as possible, playing on the streets of LA; resulting in a riot, and an even larger stunt in Cuba in front of 50,000 fans at Havana's Anti-Imperialist plaza. Brilliant marketing, but does their album measure up to the amount of hype the band has surrounding them at all times? After all they are a supergroup consisting of 2 of the most successful rock bands in history. The answer to this is an unenthusiastic 'No."
Out of Exile opens in stereotypical Tom Morello fashion with a gimmicky guitar line dropping in to a tired riff; strikingly similar to Cochise. While the album isn't really terribly offensive, it just lacks the presence and power of any of the Soundgarden or Rage against the Machine releases, chalk it up to nostalgia or whatever you want, but this album simply does not deliver the caliber of music that we all know these musicians are capable of creating. Every song is written using the same pop-rock formula and Morello's gimmicky solos simply do not work in conjunction with Chris Cornell's dark vocals.
The album moves through a dozen songs that all follow the same basic formula; the album does 'rock' at a few occasions, but the tone and attitude just seems to have been completely lost. It seems like the band is just going through the motions and then moving on. A few of the songs have a very strong Soundgarden feel to them, while others seem to be some sort of Led Zeppelin effects laden tribute, the album's seventh track The Worm especially.
The bands first release consisted mainly of Rage against the Machine leftovers, but the few songs where the band actually let themselves go, namely The Last Remaining Light and Shadow on the Sun, were extravagant and exciting. I got this album hoping that this type of writing would dominate the album; sadly this is just simply not the case. The only track that I can recommend to anyone is the title track, and the only reason I recommend it is because it is written like a self-titled Rage against the Machine era nostalgia track. I guess that's basically what the band has decided to sink to, a tribute to what they used to be.
Sadly this album will probably soar up the rock charts and make the band millions of dollars, in some ways you have to respect the band for being able to make money by re-writing the same songs they have been writing since 1991, but it'd be nice to see some sort of growth. Turning to pop-rock; U2 style, may be growth, but the majority of the bands core fans will think it's moving in the wrong direction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Elkjar is the founder of 'trust.me' an online music magazine. He spends all of his spare time immersed in music, be it writing reviews, interviews with leading bands or writing his own music.
For more of his writing, check out Trust-Me.ca - Music for robots