If you listen to Audioslave and think “this sounds like a band I know, but I can’t quite place it” you are not alone. The band (arguably a supergroup, depending on your tastes) was made up of 3 members from Rage Against the Machine: Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk; and Chris Cornell the frontman for the well-known grunge band, Soundgarden who also had a successful solo career. Thus, my first impression when I heard Audioslave for the first time was that I had heard them before but didn’t know when. I think this very reason is why a number of critics disliked the band at first, stating that they sounded uninspired and predictable.
It took a long time for me to get into Audioslave. I’ll admit, I’m not much into Rage Against the Machine, mostly because I have a hard time deciphering the lyrics and don’t usually like politically charged music. Audioslave has a completely different style for both of those categories. Chris Cornell specifically did not want to become the new singer for Rage Against, nor did he want to be a part of a political band, though he had no problem with playing benefits or performing more politically charged songs at times. He also has a very distinct voice that greatly differs from the style of Zach de la Rocha who sang for Rage Against the Machine.
When members come together from such different and iconic bands, there will obviously be an adjustment period for them to settle into a new sound distinct from their previous projects. Chris Cornell always sounded like Chris Cornell, but he stretched his vocals to include more and varied influences when he could, as did the rest of the band. Tom Morello said that while he was never musically limited with Rage Against the Machine, he felt there was wider musical territory with Audioslave.
Obviously, Audioslave has influences from the band member’s previous bands. However, they have some other specific influences that I feel colors their music very well, such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, James Brown, and Funkadelic. They pulled heavily from 70’s hard rock and heavy metal, as well as some funk, soul, and R&B here and there. I would personally classify it as hard rock or alt-rock, though it could also be described as alt-metal and post-grunge.
If you listen to alt-rock radio stations, you are probably familiar with “Like A Stone” which is their most well-known song (ironic, since it was from their first and least critically acclaimed album). It is also my favorite song of theirs. I found myself drawn to the songs which had a little more grunge and a little less metal, such as “Doesn’t Remind Me” and “Shadow On The Sun” but that’s just my taste.
If you like Rage Against the Machine, you will probably like Audioslave. I say this because the instrumentation, entirely by Rage Against band members, is all solid and well-mixed music. It really is quality work. Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk create a cohesive powerhouse together in all of the songs, and Tom Morello is a ridiculously talented guitarist.
I think I’ve rambled on long enough for one post by now. So here are my top 5 Audioslave songs :
“Like A Stone”
“Show Me How To Live”
“Shadow On The Sun”
“Doesn’t Remind Me”
“Shape Of Things To Come”
And with that, I bid you farewell for today. Here’s to future music discoveries!
Post script: Chris Cornell was found dead in his hotel room earlier this year, after a Soundgarden show. May he rest in peace.