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Audioslave - Audioslave

I've been thinking about reviving this category recently. The point was just to find an appropriate CD to present, and I found, Ladies and Gentlemen, Audioslave's first album, in classic fashion without an actual title. Now, of the few reading this most will have no clue whatsoever what the hell Audioslave is, although I have to admit there are far less known bands on this planet.

Anyway, Audioslave is what the music industry likes to call a "supergroup", meaning it consists of members who have gained fame with former bands, in this case Soundgarden (along Pearl Jam my favourite Seattle Grunge band - suck my dick, Kurt's corpse) and, rather extensively popular, Rage Against The Machine, which, with a gun on my temple, I'd call my favourite band of all.

Still, taking into consideration that only becaue of Audioslave I got into RATM, I pay my respect by reviewing their album instead of the Battle Of Los Angeles or their, guess what, selftitled debut. Taking also into consideration that there's probably not a lot of people who will read this, I might as well start this off with a little piece of nostalgia.

I remember it like it was yesterday (well, actually I do not remember it that vividly, but to hell with it): I was at the tender age of thirteen, hanging around in front of the TV after school, zapping around. Now, back in the days (always wanted to say that) there was a music channel here called "Onyx", where they would not just play that stupid plastic MTV crap, but also some, to express it neutrally, less popular music, like a show late at night with exclusively Black and Death Metal. Whatever, I zapped over to Onyx and laid my eyes on "Show Me How To Live", which I think has been the second single of that album. And, still believing in going to the shop and buying CDs without knowing what to expect because you only heard one single song, I went to the city and bought the album. Retrospectively, I have to say, this was one of the best decisions in my life that far.

Now, the music. The fact that less openminded music fans despise Audioslave because technically it's Rage Against The Machine with the vocalist switched didn't cross my mind at that time, because, as I said, I was in painful oblivion to the former existence of such a band as RATM. Much of the music's energy draws from Tom Morello's strong riffs all the same, but it seems to be more subtlely aggressive than for example, say, "Freedom" or "Born Of A Broken Man". Oftentimes it's slower, and on first view, almost sluggish. But that's what Chris Cornell's strong voice needs to draw a clear line between RATM and Audioslave. Where Zach de la Rocha spits, screams, shouts and raps, Cornell sings. This unusual combination is what attracts me to this particular band.

The album opens with "Cochise". After about half a minute of an intro dominated by pounding drums and Morello's plays with guitar effects, the song breaks into a riff straight from "Evil Empire". The song is basically not more than this and the chorus riff, but all in all perfectly fitted as a strong opener.

Next up is the mentioned "Show Me How To Live". Illuminating the differences between the bands they came from and Audioslave itself, this song is heavily focussed on Cornell's rusty voice, breaking into a catchy and driving chorus: "Nail in my hand / From my creator / You gave me life / Now show me how to live".

Hard to describe, so in my desire to make things as easy as possible for you, I have decided to introduce yet another innovation on my blog: Embedded Youtube videos - heard they were the new sports jacket shoulder pads.

"Gasoline" doesn't know what to do with its drums. In my humble opinion, they're, at least in the main riff, contraproductive to the song's force. And you really have to like the singing to stand the endlessly sustained verses. Big bonus goes to the cool solo - Morello just knows what to do with a guitar, without this being ridiculously overplayed. Nevertheless, there clearly are worse songs in music's history, and this one only slightly dims my enthusiasm over this record.

"What You Are" starts off at a slow pace for a change, with the bass playing initially full notes and the guitar picking some subtle melodies in the background. The chorus, however, kicks in with some heavily distorted power chords and matching vocals that is nevertheless quite melodic. Good song, but no cigar either.

As far as I remember, "Like A Stone" was one of the albums singles, emphasizing the quieter side of Audioslave to again contrast it from RATM, but also the more progressive tunes of Soundgarden. This one's a mid-tempo ballad that De la Rocha could never have found vocals for. Dry drums, subtle guitar and an interesting recurring bass line provide the verses' background, growing only a little more intense in the chorus with some open chorus and longer bass notes. Up to this point, "Like A Stone" might be a song played on pieceashit radio stations like SWR3, but I guess the solo has prevented that, luckily.

"Set It Off" clearly reminds you of RATM again, admittedly. This time staying away from the concept of "hard chorus, quiet verse", the song keeps pace throughout its length, except for a funky lil' bridge building up tension for the final chorus. Another strong song.

"Shadow On The Sun" again relies on Cornell for atmosphere, alongside a prominent bass. Except for the chorus, the guitar is rather background noise, except for another effectladen solo.

"I Am The Highway" is the most ballady song. Well, not, ballady, it actually is a balld. Nostalgic and even, at times, sad sounding vocals, quiet guitars playing chords... I don't think Morello, Commerford and Wilk would have thought earlier they'd ever make a song like this. Yet, in the context of the whole album, it's a good song. Not exaggeratedly whiny, still melancholic. So let the haters hate.

"Exploder" makes up for it. Frantic bass and stoic guitars in combination with another set of dry basic drums patterns in the verse steal theirselves into another RATM-like chorus, with the added benefit of someone who can sing provide the angry lyrics.

And, to general surprise, "Hypnotize" starts without a typical standard drum beat, but a little showing off of Wilk's skills. Still, all in all, the song is rather laid back, with almost bored sounding vocals and no heavily distorted guitars. I'd say it's kinda funky, thanks to (yet another) of Morello's solos that continues through the following verse.

Imagine Rage Against The Machine with a progressive touch, and you'd get the instrumentation of "Bring Em Back Alive". Clearly the song that takes the most getting used to, with its slow tempo and the distorted vocals singing another set of Cornell's cryptic lyrics. But what really lets this one stand out is in my opinion the (could you have guessed?) solo. Man, upon first hearing I thought my CD player's broken, but if you're into that kind of shit you really get your kicks out of it - and, just like RATM, all sounds on this record made by vocals, guitar, bass and drums, and no experimental Neo-New-Wave synthesizer faggoty bullshitting. I guess it's what you would call a Geheimtipp. There's no cool English word for that, so I refuse to use one. In yo face.

"Light My Way" is another one of my favourites, thanks mainly to its strong chorus featuring brute guitars and raw vocals.

You know you're approaching the end of a record when the songs tend to get slower, quieter and sadder. "Getaway Car" is a really laid back tune, nevertheless, again living from Cornell's singing and Morello's solo, although this time it's rather traditional.

"The Last Remaining Light" is like a slightly more progressive version of "Getaway Car". The guitar has a weird little effect to it, and the singing appears to be more hypnotic, combined producing a strangely chilling effect. It takes about half of the song to come to what one would identify as a chorus, in need of a better word. Only repeated one more time, it leaves a certain unsettling effect that is still somehow addicted. I dig it.

Now, to the ridiculous section where I tend to rate CDs I've presented. Seeing that I mainly review redords I really like, this is not only subjective, but also uninteresting, 'cause who'd be stunned if I said that this album's

9,5 / 10?

Really, you oughta listen to Audioslave more. I know, the band doesn't exist anymore, and RATM has a far more aggressive approach, and Soundgarden's great anyway, but that does not have to mean Audioslave's just a music industry tool band, because I have the impression they are, or were, not. Admittedly, the second album's not as strong as the debut as it lacks the melancholic edge to it, and to be honest, I really didn't listen to the third in a way worth mentioning, but all that still does not reduce this record's own authentic and full-of-integrity quality.







21.9.09 18:21

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