There are few times when the entire rock community mourns the loss of an artistic possibility. it happened with Hendrix, Entwistle, Bonham, Lennon, The Ramones, and recently with Joe Strummer. it's not unfair to say that the same thing happened with Rage Against The Machine and Soundgarden. though both instantiated and propelled the rock sub-genres of grunge and rap-rock, they did so mistakenly because their careers only reflected an unwaivering dedication to their aesthetic agendas. Soundgarden captured the bleakness and depravity of the human condition without being enveloped by the uber marketing of the grunge era while RATM issued political decrees with such finesse, rawness, control, and conditioning that groups like Linkin Park have only made palatable, lifeless copies of them. when both bands broke up, the weight of rock music seemed to be dashed once again and many were left wondering what they should believe in.
but with Audioslave, the prospect of important and honest rock music becomes possible once again. Chris Cornell, who seemed somewhat lost on Euphoria Morning, has probably one of the most stunning vocal ranges in all genres. when rehearsing and making new songs, Morello described his voice as a saxaphone and the comparison is easy to detect. the remaining members of Rage--Morello, Commerford, and Wilk--gave Zach de la Rocha the versatility unavailable with your standard hip-hop instrumentation and made Rage what it was: a wholly sentient project capable of ripping down musical barriers with almost the same effect of Run DMC and Aerosmith's 'Walk This Way.' Audioslave represents, on one hand, a musical phoenix that seems to annul the stupid sins of commercialism the genre has indulged in. there is a genuine sense of weight to the album, something i've been missing for a while now.
but all this doesn't mean the album is perfect because there is plenty of burnishing needed. the Rage members have had to incorporate more melody, something that is difficult if one remembers that they were born with large splinters of hip-hop in their veins. this is most obvious with Tom Morello whose solos of sonic distortion have shared more of a simulacrum with Jam Master Jay (RIP) than Jimmy Page. sadly, Chris Cornell doesn't seem to be completely comfortable with the outfit and lacks the awesome grandeur of Soundgarden and/or the impressive delivery of de la Rocha. instead he tries to cross-pollinate the two even though he's weaker with the latter and can sometimes come off as expending a bit too much effort. nonetheless, it's worth buying. at the very least the combinaton is pretty attractive and is pulled off relatively well. it won't garner multiple spins in your discman but it's still a keeper.