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Doubters proven wrong with success of new album

Observer Scene | Thursday, February 2, 2006

When word got around in 2000 that Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha would be replaced by ex-Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell, it seemed as though every fan of alternative rock had an opinion on whether or not the success would continue.

Even after the band renamed itself Audioslave and recorded a self-titled debut album in 2002 that sold surprisingly well, skeptics still saw the foursome as nothing more than another super-group – a short-term side project. Almost three years later, doubters were proven wrong with the release of “Out of Exile.”

There is no weak point to be found anywhere within the 12 tracks. Cornell’s vocals are solid throughout, and guitarist Tom Morello continues to amaze listeners with his ear-splitting riffs. The rhythmic duo of bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk serve as more than Morello’s backdrop, as they make keeping up with the more fast-paced tracks look extremely easy. It’s clear that all three ex-Rage members have been given the freedom to push their musical limits now that they are alongside singer Cornell instead of rapper de la Rocha.

“Be Yourself” was the first single on this disc to hit radio stations, which initially seemed to be an unusual choice. It is a relatively laid-back song that simply advises listeners to, as the title suggests, be themselves. While it doesn’t have nearly as much power as the majority of the tracks on the album, it accomplishes its goal in proving the group’s flexibility.

“Doesn’t Remind Me” was the second track from “Out of Exile” to receive equal radio attention. The lyrics are blatantly random, with lines such as, “I like gospel music and canned applause/because it doesn’t remind me of anything.” However, one can’t help but smile once they realize what a carefree attitude the song carries with it.

The rest of the album delivers the electricity that listeners have come to expect from Audioslave. Just as “Cochise” was a great opener in the first album, “Your Time Has Come” greets the ears with an unmatched intensity that remains consistent from beginning to end.

“The Worm” can more or less serve as an anthem for those people who made poor decisions in high school, while “Man or Animal” attempts to show that some things will never go away, no matter how much people want them to.

What separates “Out of Exile” from the other recent rock albums is its ability to remain consistent while never becoming stale. For example, almost every song features a guitar solo a la Tom Morello. After all that he has accomplished as a guitarist, it is easy to see why it should be that way. Granted, some of noises he manages to get out of his guitar somewhat resemble nails on a chalkboard, but the variety makes up for it, and then some.

It does not matter if the listener was a fan of Soundgarden or Rage Against the Machine. It does not matter if they purchased Audioslave’s first album. Listening to “Out of Exile,” they will start to hope the band becomes a fixture in today’s rock world.