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AUDIOSLAVE - OUT OF EXILE - UNIVERSAL
Record Rating: ****

Audioslave - Out Of Exile - Universal When Audioslave put out their self-titled debut in 2001, Chris Cornell, the frontman of the defunct Seattle band Soundgarden and the three members of Rage Against The Machine not named Zach de la Rocha hadnít fully become acclimatised to each other. The laidback vocalist had only one precondition while recording that album: they would leave Rageís political ideologies at the door. Things have changed in the three years since that debut album. Cornell is now sober and has become a father. He also pens songs for the band which is now a lean, mean machine whose music serves almost as a bridge for new fans attempting to learn about classic rock.

Supported by the production muscle of grizzled super producer Rick Rubin, their new album Out Of Exile features trademark dark material like the Cornell-penned Heavenís Dead, anti-war album opener Your Time Has Come and a track called The Worm that appears to be an ode to self loathing. The album also includes positive material with songs like Dandelion, Doesnít Remind Me and the surprisingly optimistic power ballad Be Yourself.

Clearly these old hands have a few fresh tricks up their sleeves and age, riches and global fame have done little to take the bite out of their rock. Guitarist Tom Morello also seems to have settled into a musical space that allows for the song to be served by his guitar rather than being overshadowed by experimental hooks that threaten to simultaneously dominate and negate a songís power.

In an era of diminished and pseudo rock gods, it might be time for the old hands to show the new kids how it is all really done. Maybe the next name change will require them to redefine themselves as Audiomaster.

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