Audioslave

Record review

Phases & Stages

Audioslave

Out of Exile (Interscope/Epic)

Audioslave's self-titled 2002 debut was pound for pound the best big-ticket hard rock album since Tool's Aenima, even though it amounted to Chris Cornell's head grafted onto Rage Against the Machine's body. Only on airwave-conquering ballads "Like a Stone" and "I Am the Highway" did the Promethean quartet hint at something more, a well-tempered sound both earthy and ethereal. On Out of Exile, the integration is complete: Tom Morello's expressionist guitar squalls and panzer-division riffs driving plodding Badmotorfinger tempos flowing into Cornell's wayward-Jesus complex. The ragers ("Your Time Has Come," "Man or Animal") cleave to a much sleeker groove, while "Doesn't Remind Me," "Dandelion," and "The Curse" all allow gleaming melodies to shine forth from the thicket of guitars. Yes, Cornell still throws out plenty of stupefying lyrics ("Heaven's dead when you get sad," "Leave the feathers on the chickens"), but he also owns the slow-burning, moody mysticism of "Out of Exile" and "#1 Zero." No other big band out there makes their pieces fit like this. Not Queens of the Stone Age, not Nine Inch Nails, certainly not Crossfade, Seether, or Chevelle. Audioslave are officially in a league of their own.

****

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