Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Audioslave: A Look Back

Look, guys.  I like Audioslave.  I really do.  I mean, I didn't grow up with Soundgarden and Rage Against The Machine, so I can't put myself in the shoes of someone who did.  I only knew some of their songs, enough to comprehend what this supergroup meant on a basic level.  Looking back on their bodies of work, I can start to understand why people had such a violent negative reaction to Audioslave.  But I think if you approach their music from as fresh a perspective as possible -- which, to some extent, simply "won't work" for some people, and I get that -- you gotta appreciate at least some of what they did.  It was simple, unassuming rock music bolstered by the undeniable instrumental talents of the Rage guys and the also-undeniable (if perhaps a bit worn) vocal talent of Chris Cornell.  (Rumor has it he lost some of his voice to cigarettes, but has regained it since; I'm not sure if there's any truth to that.)  Combining the two styles was a more intriguing idea than most supergroups -- which generally combine rock with rock and result in rock -- and they delivered on the concept.  They didn't exceed expectations, but those expectations were pretty awesome.

While they obviously weren't lacking in talent, perhaps what they did lack was "spark".  The classic supergroup problem, I suppose; there's so much mutual professional respect in the room that nobody feels specifically motivated to contribute their own ideas or challenge each other's ideas.  There was clearly a general motivation to make music, but I get the impression that each band member was on autopilot, waiting for one of the other guys to take the lead, occasionally coming up with a breakthrough idea.  That said, these guys on autopilot still do some pretty great work.

Their sonic palette wasn't incredibly diverse, and their primary song formula wore itself a bit thin by the end of the first album.  They mixed it up a little on the other two albums, but perhaps not as much as they should have.  To be fair, I feel like Rage Against The Machine was on the verge of running out of ideas when they broke up, too.  Let's just say variety has never been Tom Morello's strongest point.  I don't know if either band would've been able to sustain a fourth album.

At this point you're probably wondering exactly what I'm introducing here.  Well, I'm going to do a brief rundown of each of Audioslave's albums.  I'm starting with the last one, Revelations, because I actually did a write-up of it four years ago on my MySpace blog. Remember those?  Basically I'm abandoning ship and re-posting whatever I want to keep around.  Because screw that place.  The other day I was checking Facebook on my phone and I accidentally clicked the MySpace link and I was like "aaaaaaaaaaah, what happened to Facebook, why does it look so terrib--OH, I clicked MySpace by accident, never mind."

So part 1 of this series will be posted immediately after this.  The format for these write-ups is semi-humorous, half-serious and not even close to professional.  Stay tuned.

No comments: