By Al Hilton
To judge from their latest album, “Out of Exile,” Audioslave seems to be making deliberate efforts to step away from their status as a Rage Against the Machine/Soundgarden hybrid concept band and toward a more unified sound. This effort seems to have succeeded to a degree, giving rise to a sound that can fairly be described as an “Audioslave” sound and not just Chris Cornell crooning over toned down Rage Against the Machine tracks.
The workhorse of Audioslave's latest effort is the under-appreciated Tim Commerford/Brad Wilk Bass/Drum rhythm section, which lays down the consistently enjoyable grooves that are so essential to some of Out of Exile's more laid-back songs such as “Out of Exile,” “Yesterday to Tomorrow,” or “Heaven's Dead.” Tom Morello's effects-heavy guitar work does an excellent job of balancing out these groove oriented tracks with some much-needed energy. This distinctive slow-burn sound provides some of the album’s most memorable moments, and seems to indicate the direction the band the band is headed in the future. Fans who want more of the heavier, hard rock Audioslave sound that typified much of the band's previous release will be well rewarded with “Your Time Has Come” and “Man or Animal,” which could easily be mistaken for classic rock were is not for Morello's experimental solo riffs.
On the downside, Audioslave also seems to have hit a new low with the inexplicably annoying “Be Yourself,” with its poppy, over-repeated chorus. Why this song gets more radio airtime than some of the more worthy tracks on the album is a mystery to me.
Ultimately, “Out of Exile” strikes this reviewer as a solid alternative rock album that, regrettably, pales little in comparison with the band's previous release, not to mention Soundgarden or Rage Against the Machine. Many of the song compositions feel a bit too predictable and too similar to one another. This isn't an album that throws too many surprises at the listener (with the notable exception of the unexpectedly whimsical “Doesn't Remind Me,” which doesn't sound like anything else the band has put out). Fans who dig the mellow sound on previous Audioslave hits such as “Like a Stone” will certainly want to consider checking out this album, although those who want songs with a harder, Rage Against the Machine-esque fell may want to look elsewhere.
Music Reviews **** (4/4 stars)
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