Audioslave – Revelations (2006): Review

Label – Epic/Interscope
Produced by Brendan O’Brien

There always feels something of an under-achievement when one looks back at the collective works of Audioslave. They had a limitless supply of rock kudos, immense musical ability, and in Chris Cornell, a front man with enough experience and skill to compete with any of the top rock front men of our time. And yet, not one recording comes close to the highlights from the respective 90s performances of Soundgarden or Rage Against The Machine. “Revelations” promises by title alone that there may be an indication that the 4 piece are about to challenge the “nearly men” tag that they have garnered, and the promise of a new excitement yet experienced. But when guitarist Tom Morello excitedly announced on MTV that “Revelations is like Earth Wind & Fire meets Led Zep”, this reviewer cringed; for after all, haven’t RHCP got that base covered ?

“Revelations” contains all the necessary Morello riffs and stabbing high pitched solo’s, aided by Tim Comerford’s slap Bass style and Cornell’s aggressive howls. For a hard rock recording Brendan O’Brien’s production effort seems aggravatingly slick, sucking all the bite from the performances. He pushes the sound into tragic Nickleback territory, and multi tracking vocals for rock radio which in this case have never sounded more unnecessary. All the faux darkness is replaced by well worn paths of what seems like committed calculation. Even the single “Original Fire” sounds like a song everybody has heard before, and the lyrics don’t help in understanding the heart of Audioslave. There’s a lot of grandiose lines, that compiled together mean absolutely nothing. The funk workouts don’t work (just listen to “Broken City” and “One And The Same”), and Cornell’s raging and rasping vocals become inappropriately over cooked to the point where one really hopes for a reduction in tempo and a decrease in instrumental volume to perhaps encourage him to sing instead of holler. There is a rare exception to the struggle, and that’s the opener and title track, which is a genuinely strong song and should be released as a single. The rest will try the aural patience of even the biggest Audioslave fan. The passion that they attempt to relay seems incredibly forced.

Audioslave may have thought this as progress, but never before had the band sounded more anonymous.

5/10

1 Revelations 4:09
2 One and the Same 3:35
3 Sound of a Gun 4:18
4 Until We Fall 3:49
5 Original Fire 3:36
6 Broken City 3:48
7 Somedays 3:32
8 Shape of Things to Come 5:34
9 Jewel of the Summertime 3:51
10 Wide Awake 4:24
11 Nothing Left to Say But Goodbye 3:32
12 Moth 4:54

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