Comrade Hoos has informed me that Audioslave is officially kaput. About which I am sad, because with Revelations, they have finally produced a really great record. Dare I say, the best rock record of last year.
The self titled debut album was rockin’, but uninspired. Sounded exactly like what it was: Chris Cornell singing his own stuff karaoke-style over a bunch of Rage tunes. With Out of Exhile they seemed to be trying to create a new band, come up with their own style. And a few of the songs really clicked (“The Worm”, “Yesterday to Tomorrow”, “#1 Zero”). But it was obvious that they were struggling to find their sound, and I wonder if Cornell’s heart was really in it. Aside from some major lyrical weakness (“To be yourself is all that you can do”? Seriously?), Cornell really sounded his age on Out of Exhile: Tired, asthmatic and, well, old.
Then came Revelations. I held off buying it, disappointed as I was by Out of Exhile. On the word of several trusted friends, however, I finally picked it up late last year. And was blown away. Not the best album ever, but definitely the best I’d heard that year. Finally, I was hearing Audioslave, not Rage Against the Garden or Soundmachine. Morello even remembered how to play actual notes during solos (“One and the Same”, “Sound of a Gun”). On their previous two records (especially Out of Exhile) his solo’s sounded like a fifteen-year-old trying to play a Tom Morello solo (turn on every fx-pedal you own and just go nuts). On Revelations, the solos mostly serve the songs, instead of being irrelevant and distracting.
From the moshable-white-funk of the opening title track to “Moth”‘s epic, devil-horns-waving finale,Revelations has no fat, no filler. And, despite the occasional forced political reference (“Wide Awake”), Cornell’s lyrics are as strong as they have ever been. If you, like me, prematurely swore off Audioslave because of Out of Exhile (or have ignored them from the beginning), give this album a fair listen. If you’re already hip to that groove, enjoy the following Fun Note.
I listened to this CD in my car non-stop for three days before I ever looked at the jacket insert. I didn’t know the titles of any of the tracks (and of course, none of the lyrics), and so when the wicked-funky chorus of “Jewel of the Summertime” kicked in, this is what I thought of.