Sound — 8
Although I was somewhat disappointed with the lack of variation in Audioslave's last album, I found this album to have a very fresh sound, with Tom Morello really trying harder to experiment. There are quite a variety of different influences on here which show through, although the songs retain an individual quality which marks them out as being Audioslave songs. The songs range from the opener, "Your Time Has Come," a rocker with a Hendrix feel to some of the passages, through "#1 Zero," which sees Morello experiment with a lot if interesting guitar sounds, to a slower ballad in more of a Soundgarden style, "The Curse." Also, as a guitar player, I was pleased to see the introduction of some blistering solos into the songs. Inevitably, this is always going to be compared to RATM, and fans shouldn't be disappointed with the sound, although Chris Cornell's singing seems a bit flat, meaning that some of the songs feel a bit lacking in energy.
Lyrics — 10
The album contains some very well-written and often meaningful lyrics. I was very impressed by the lyrics to "Your Time Has Come," which contains some militant RATM style lyrics, talking about "bullets in the chest", and a particularly haunting verse where Chris Cornell sings "I've seen fifty thousand names all engraved on a stone/Most of them met an early grave before I was born/All of them left mothers and brothers and sisters behind/And most of their family and friends are still alive." I like the lyrics in this album and feel they are very well suited to Chris Cornell's singing style, although as I have mentioned he does sound a bit flat in places. I'm not going to take points off for this here as I have already mentioned it under "Sound," though. Overall, very well crafted lyrics which fit well to the music.
Overall Impression — 8
In my eyes, a great improvement on their debut. Lots of energy flows through the instruments, particularly the guitar parts, and while singing lacks energy somewhat, there is still plenty worth listening to. Tom Morello has achieved some really good effects here with his guitar, and deserves particular mention for the amazing solos, and for the cool slide-like whammy effect on "#1 Zero." If you're looking for Rage Against The Machine, you won't find it here, but I think RATM fans might be pleasantly surprised, and would certainly recommend giving it a try - after all, if they were meant to be RATM they wouldn't be called Audioslave. Excellent work.