Friday, October 06, 2006

AUDIOSLAVE Revelations

With their third album since their 2002 debut, Audioslave are bent on proving that they’re in for the long haul. Revelations shows their evolution from four individuals making a record to a band with their own identity.
I rank these guys as one of my favourite bands, so expect a bias here. The level of talent and musical skill is rarely seen in the modern rock-radio digitally smashed glut of soundalikes. They haven’t ever gotten good reviews though. People can’t seem to figure out what to do with this band. When the first single emerged early this summer, a DJ at the Toronto edge-format station was a little wary. “Original Fire” with its clipped chords and quick groove just seemed way too up-tempo for his liking.

Here’s what’s going on: this is a tailgate-down, good-times-havin, head-bobbin, butt-shakin record.

And sometimes, kids, you just have to rawk.

It starts off with the title track, which features a chorus you’ll find surprisingly easy to sing along with. Immediately after that, you’ll be blasted with the funky and incredibly danceable “One And The Same.” I’m not joking. Just try to listen to that one and not move any part of your body. Good luck.

“Sound Of A Gun” has the big chunking chorus of bass and guitar that Audioslave is becoming known for, contrasting with tuneful verses.

Another highlight is “Until We Fall” which I hesitate to call a ballad because it is completely devoid of the sappiness that most ballads specialize in. Acoustic guitar and a solid bass line anchor this up-tempo song. It has some interesting chord changes and beautiful imagery. I think I heard a tympani in there too. Cool.

The album closes with a one-two-three kick of seriousness. “Wide Awake” is clearly aimed at the aftermath of the Hurricane in the Southern States of 2005. “Nothing Left To Say But Goodbye”, with its loyal dog/grateful man metaphor, takes an Axl Rose-type turn at the end into some ominous sounding chords. This leads into the haunting “Moth,” which sounds like a final word to the seductive hold of addiction. It’s a good choice for last track: it will stick with you afterwards.

The packaging is once again nicely done. They haven’t strayed from the black background and slick photography that graced the previous two albums. In keeping with the theme of elements (fire, water) the cover photo shows what appears to be a satellite shot of earth. (It’s actually planet Audioslave.) The lyrics are easy to read. However, I have to bring up a problem. There are a few typos and grammatical mistakes, which I assume is a verbatim copying from hastily scrawled handwritten notes. Far be it from me to criticize a poet in the heat of his art. As far as I’m concerned Chris Cornell can make as many spelling mistakes as he wants. I just want them to get it right on the liner notes. I’m available, guys. For you, I’ll work cheap. Just leave a comment, I’m there.

I couldn’t really tell you about this album without noting what really makes Audioslave special. It’s musicianship. These guys are good. Cornell with his raspy howl can sing it and scream it; Morello is one of, if not THE most innovative guitarists out there today; Commerford lays down the fattest, squattiest, heaviest bass lines; and Wilk is capable of throwing some serious funk into his rapid fire drumming. I have listened to this album concentrating on one at a time, and they’re each stunning.
I put this record through my usual battery of tests:

The Jethro test: “It’s harsh but not painful. That’s Brendan O’Brien- just punish it to tape, that’s his thing. Oh yeah, it was recorded on analog. Sure it was. For these guys you’d bust open the vault and get out the two-inch. They lay it down. No need to cut it up in ProTools for two months.”

the Jetta test:Damn if this doesn’t feel good zooming down the highway.

the dining roomtest: my kids LOVE this band. The girl loves the vocal melodies. My son is the biggest Audioslave fan I know, as well as the smallest! It’s the perfect length for a meal. Put it on while stirring things and setting the table. Linger over your meal and the Shape Of Things To Come. By the time you’re washing dishes you’ve had a good dose of tunes.

Family Room test- Yeah this is good in surround sound. There’s not much fancy studio trickery but it’s well done. I particularly like the way the bass buzzes around the back of my head.

We’ve been spinning this once since it dropped, which is about a month now. Still not sick of it. With three albums in four years, they’re obviously gelling as a band and are getting a lot of satisfaction out of writing music together. I hope they keep it up.

Revelations isn’t a perfect album, but it is excellent. There’s always room in my world for another solid album’s worth of tailgate down butt shakin head bangin music!

1 comment:

The Adult in Question said...

WOOT! Audioslave