Sound — 6
Firstly I just want to say this is definitely not a bad album. I was not angry with it, I still listen to it occasionally, it's just I wasn't satisfied with it. The first Audioslave album had definite flaws, but it really showed promise. It contained a couple of standout tracks such as 'Shadow On The Sun' and 'Cochise' but as a whole album seemed flawed. It just wasn't coherent which seemed reasonable with the limited period that the band worked on the album, and the friction between Cornell and the rest of the group. So I was eager to hear this album expecting it to be a classic. So why isn't it? It certainly sounds less disjointed but it still fails. It tries to hit the mainstream and seems plain and ordinary which it certainly shouldn't, considering the huge musical talent of its members. Its rockier songs seem fairly plain and will certainly not be remembered as classics. 'Your Time Has Come' is alright with a thundering drumbeat, decent base and typically impressive guitar from Morello, and yet still doesn't amaze. It seems rather unemotional and ordinary which would be fine if it wasn't one of their better songs. The same dazzling guitar work, base and drumming continues in 'Drown Me Slowly', 'Man Or Animal', 'Out Of Exile', and 'The Worm' and yet none of the songs seem to reach any great heights. 'Man Or Animal' seems the most energetic and frantic of the work and as such is more impressive than the others despite its relative simplicity. Morello's guitar work continues to amaze and I can't begin to know how he accomplishes the tricks he does. Likewise Brad Wilk's drumming is sharp and impressive but fails to standout on most tracks like someone like John Bonham or Dave Grohl does. The base lines are still heavy like they were in RATM days but are not as prominent as they were and don't seem to control the album. Together the artists seem almost to compete at technical brilliance and not work towards creating classic rock songs. Perhaps these heavier songs will dazzle live, but on the album they seem flat and unconvincing. The softer songs also seem less than convincing. 'The Curse' is a pretty good track and 'Be Yourself' really has grown on me although I found it very poppy on first listen. 'Dandelion' is just a week song. Its guitar tune in the verse is very bland and the chorus just seems cheesy. As annoying as 'Doesn't Remind Me' is it is still a likable song and one that you want to sing and is probably the best pop rock song on the album. '#1 Zero' is alright, it builds up to a decent riff and ending but is not exceptional and kind of dies a limp death. Together this album is alright. It is not as disjointed as its predecessor but neither does it contain its energy. Perhaps if the album contained three or four great songs the album would succeed but without them you turn the album on and all of sudden the album has finished. It does not grab your attention and is certainly not the rock classic I had hoped for.
Lyrics — 6
I like Chris Cornell. He has an amazing range of vocals and yet still can convey a huge level of emotions in his songs. In Soundgarden his vocals really added to the songs and the bands sound. This album sounds more like Temple Of A Dog, his one album side project when he seemed to sing over the songs, and yet here he doesn't even seem emotional attached. From his attitude in interviews I've read he still seems frustrated with this band and that really comes through in the songs. His vocals, though still considerable, seem flat and void of much emotion. It sounds almost as if he's singing someone else's songs. And it seems like he is when you read the lyrics. Few of the songs seem truly open with the rest appearing to be ridiculously poppy or written by the politically active Morello. The lyrics of 'Your Time Has Come' seem to be strongly influenced by the rest of the band and as such Cornell seems bored with them when he sings them, taking away from the atmosphere of the song. The Chorus of 'Be Yourself' just seems deliberately fake and I felt mildly insulted by them when I heard it. I would of expected the lyrics from Avril but not Cornell. Likewise goes with 'Dandelion'. The lyrics from the rest of the album are alright, but not as emotional or impressive as from his Soundgarden days. Perhaps they would have come across better if he put more into singing them, but the lack of interest in the songs means the lyrics come off unconvincing. Although most of the lyrics are fairly good and his vocals still demonstrate talent he sings them as if he doesn't want to be there and really doesn't care.
Overall Impression — 6
Together this album fails to convince. It is not a bad album, but never reaches the heights that it should. It misses the political anger of RATM that made the band so convincing and the emotion and atmosphere that made Soundgarden such an unlikely hit. If this album did not have the rock pedigree of its artists it is unlikely it would be as popular as it is. Although it is unfair to compare the band with the member's previous bands it is hard not to, and when you do this album surely falls short. The band attempts to court both pop and rock fans and yet fails in both. It should choose a direction together and follow it. As it stands Cornell seems definitely bored and his lyrics and vocals don't really seem to tie in with the songs accept in rare instances. Either the group need to work closer with Cornell or boot him out because if this album is an example the band don't seem to be going anywhere together. As much as I wanted to love this album I just couldn't. Audioslave could and should, reach far greater musical heights and definitely have it in them to create a great classic. But fans are kidding themselves if they claim this is it.