When Audioslave released its self-titled debut in 2002, it couldn't escape the shadow cast by its members' former bands: Soundgarden (vocalist Chris Cornell) and Rage Against The Machine (guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk). Audioslave's first effort sounded, unsurprisingly, mostly like a Rage/Soundgarden collaboration.
The new Out Of Exile starts strongly with "Your Time Has Come," an uptempo rocker fueled by Morello and Commerford's guitar-and-bass groovea dynamic repeated on the second song, "Out Of Exile." It's a familiar, Rage-like sound that comes from Morello's playing style, which could hinder Audioslave's quest to distinguish itself, but it still works. The dynamic shifts on the third track, "Be Yourself," with its restrained, quiet verses that unfortunately build into cheesy choruses where Cornell repeatedly croons, "To be yourself is all that you can do." It's too bad the song's nice dynamics crescendo into such a trite afterschool-special payoff. The album's poppiest track, "Doesn't Remind Me," has a certain heaviness that helps it evade being generic, and it doesn't sound like the band members' previous projects at all. But "The Worm" sounds like a Soundgarden B-side, complete with Cornell's annoying wail, which until that point had mostly stayed subdued.
As Out Of Exile carries on, the songs sound repetitious and a little formulaic; each guitar solo seems to arrive at a preordained moment, and both the album and the individual songs drag on too long. At this point in their careers, Audioslave's members can set their own limits, but their songs would be considerably stronger if trimmed. Out Of Exile shows that Audioslave is on the right track to stepping out of the shadow of its predecessor bands; it's just that the results may not be all that interesting.