Hip Into Their Forties

In cultureShock, Entertainment by Erich Cella

“Out of Exile” is an aptly titled record that describes the eight year exodus that Chris Cornell had been experiencing since the breakup of Soundgarden. With a strong but eponymous solo debut and a slightly better than average effort on Audioslave’s self titled album, he has plummeted somewhat out of the lime light.

As a pure singer though, Cornell, still delivers the goods with his heavenly pipes, but is yet to assemble an absolute and unqualified magnum opus since 97’s down on the upside. On Audioslave’s follow-up, Cornell and his rage comrades come close to his previous excellence by employing smoother transitions into their hooks and have also integrated an abundance of melodies, absent in their self-titled debut.

It’s apparent that Rick Rubin either took control of the reigns in order to compress a more focused result or the band took it upon themselves to ignite the fire that was otherwise dormant for much of this 3 year super group experiment. Either way the intensity or drive has resurfaced from the fractured concrete barrier encapsulating their ground breaking libido.

The invigoration and heartrending out cries on “Out of Exile” cut into you, slicing and dicing your internal failsafe as you emerge from your sonic journey similar to a wounded animal.

Right from the inaugural track “Your Time Has Come,” the listener is immediately thrust into a world of anguish and distress or uncertainty of tomorrow.

Much like “Cochise”, you become overwhelmed by the nasty riff and before you know it, you’re engrained in a sermon like a warning from the preacher.

Another kick in the teeth is sustained when you are served with a full dose of evil and unearthly sludge with “Out of Exile,” a heavy handed, explicit slam. Songs such as “Be Yourself” and “Doesn’t Remind Me” serve as a much needed rest stop for the long emotional road waiting to swallow up the naive traveler who dangles his inhibitions in front of the starved wolf pack.

Nothing will prepare you for the venomous potency that will erupt on “The Worm” as Cornell beckons back to his youthful yelps that would peel the paint from the walls.

His filthy scowl is certainly a site for skeptical eyes who did not believe that a 42 year old male could duplicate his brilliance from when he wailed in his mid to late 20’s.

Of course, Audioslave is no way is a one man show, and the band can only reach greatness if they become a cohesive unit. It’s seems that the cohesion has been achieved for the most part, as everyone seems to have honed their talents and become the proper appendage to Cornell’s electric vocal styling.

Tom Morello still packs a wallop with his hard edged block of early 90’s riffs but doesn’t indulge himself in his galactic, magician like buffoonery as much as he’s displayed on the previous record.

He still has his moments but for the most part stays within the confines of the song. However, he does surprise us with a rock solo, reminiscent of Porcupine Tree and Mars Volta on “Yesterday to Tomorrow” and steals the spotlight from Cornell.

You just wish there would be at least one instrumental, so Morello can show why he’s such a coveted lead guitarist. Drummer, Brad Wilk, steps up to the plate and asserts himself as more of an influence over the finished product.

“Dandelion” is a perfect setting for Wilk as it requires an R&B flavor along with a Led Zeppelin tone and he executes it flawlessly, while putting Matt Cameron to shame.

Bassist, Timmy Commerford, as always, shows himself as an adequate piece of the band that continues to improve with age and tends to want to experiment a smidgen from time to time. If I had any bones to pick it would have to be “Be Yourself” which has to be the most Disney lyric Cornell has ever concocted in his think tank.

Why didn’t somebody take him aside and let him have it, so that this ridiculousness would have never been on the album?

The mixing of the record leaves much to be desired as the momentum of the hard edged tracks are brought down by the ballads, but this is just a mild gripe.

Otherwise, Audioslave impresses with more gumption and fervor, which had been missing from this group and contradicted their legendary rock backgrounds.

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