OAAR: Audioslave - Out of Exile (2005)

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I was such a big fan of the first Audioslave album that I'm actually surprised I never picked up the second or third iterations of Audioslave tune collections. So this is actually the first time I've heard Out of Exile in its entirety. Of course, since I listen to enough rock, I've heard the four singles off Out of Exile but the rest of the album will be a mystery.

Opening up the album is "Your Time Has Come," a solid rock track, with a bit of Tom Morello thrown in for good measure, but compared to how Audioslave opened, the sophomore album from Audioslave more or less eases you into the music as opposed to slapping you in the face with an auditory sledge hammer. What starts becoming apparent once you hit "Be Yourself" and "Dosen't Remind Me" is that fact that while we still have Chris Cornell and Tom Morello, we have less of their wholly independent musical identities and more of a meld between the two artists leaving us with the more pure Rock & Roll experience. It's also no wonder that the first four tracks of Out of Exile were the four singles released from the album because of their more mainstream appeal.

A weird thing seems to happen around the middle of the album though. You know when you come to a stop behind another car at the lights, then the lights turn green and you and the car in front of you accelerates but you're accelerating a bit faster so you have to completely pull your foot off the gas while the car in front picks up speed and gets to a point where you can speed up again? That jarring moment when your car's clutch kicks in perfectly describes how the three track set of "Drown Me Slowly," "Heaven's Dead" and "The Worm" feels to me. Sure, you can count on Audioslave to bring their talent to all of these tracks, but through "Man or Animal," there wasn't a single moment that made me say "Wow." Overall while Out of Exile isn't a bad album, it's pretty forgetful for the most part. I'm not really sure what happened between the first two albums, but it just doesn't have the punch that the first one did. There really isn't much else to say.

Author: Jake

Out of Exile is a near perfectly crafted follow up to the band's 2002 self-title debut – at least as far as my criticism of that album is concerned.  The opening track, "Your Time Has Come", is hauntingly reminiscent of the whole of Audioslave in its construction and at first made me wonder whether this album too would be an hour of wonderful aural stasis, but stasis nonetheless.  Then the album's title track kicked in and all my worries were washed away in uptempo rock and doubled and harmonized vocal lines.  Out of Exile, much like its predecessor, is full of strong songwriting, but it is far more varied in individual song stylings, which nets it a high experience score while keeping the album's overall score a bit lower.  It is evident by the midway point that what we're being treated to is truly the sophomore effort of Audioslave, and not just a second run at a supergroup album, and that's a very enjoyable reality.

While the flow from uptempo rock to ballads and back is more traditional, the album's two most popular songs, "Be Yourself" and "Doesn't Remind Me", provide a unique pairing early in the album.  "Be Yourself", which was the album's first single, is a terrible song.  Its positive refrain of "to be yourself is all that you can do" seems like it should be the slogan for one of the new anti-bullying campaigns that are all the rage now in America.  The lyric comes across as forced and phony and fails to acknowledge anything about the real world; it's place more at home in a G.I. Joe cartoon than on a rock album.  And, like all cheesy, crappy lyrics, the band has decided it is the only line of the refrain, so you're forced to listen to it over and over again.  In contrast, the anti-nostalgia of "Doesn't Remind Me" is refreshing, and the lyrics may be the best Cornell has written for an Audioslave song.  The whole premise of the song – that Cornell is looking to enjoy things for which he has no historical memory or nostalgia; in essence, to experience something truly new – is fascinating to me personally, and the song is crafted and executed extremely well.  It's easily the only 5 on the album, and I might have tried to get away with giving it a 7 were it not for the fact that it has to pull the listening audience up from the four and a half minutes of landfill that "Be Yourself" is.  If you take nothing else away from this review, get "Doesn't Remind Me" on your iPod, pronto.
Author: Pete

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