|Audioslave - Audioslave|
|Music Disc Reviews DualDisc|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Monday, 07 June 2004|
Isn’t it ironic (unlike a black fly in your chardonnay or rain on your wedding day) that the two best rock records on DualDisc are from modern-day super-groups? Who can argue with concept of melding talent at every position around the horn to create a band that can really play? In the case of Audioslave, you get the band from Rage Against the Machine and add vocalist Chris Cornell, formerly the front man of what I consider to be the best, most talented band of the grunge era, Soundgarden. The result in Audioslave is a band that has the edgy, hard rock feel of Rage, complete with a little bit of funk mixed in, paired with the gravitas that Cornell brings to the mix. Gone are the annoying attempts at rap that always soiled my opinion of Rage Against the Machine. In Audioslave are the full-force, rock sensibilities of a band that knows how to hit the accelerator and not let up.
The DualDisc release of their platinum-selling compact disc falls along the lines of what you would expect from a mainstream release. The CD layer is a 16-bit red book standard CD. The DVD layer comes with a 20-bit stereo track for audio enthusiasts but no surround sound mix. There are three music videos and two live performances included, as well as interview footage with the band. Overall, there are a lot of added values. The problem is, they are missing the one thing that audio enthusiasts want most – the highest-resolution stereo tracks and a surround sound mix.
The lead-off track “Cochise” starts slowly, much like Velvet Revolver’s “Slither” does, but quickly builds to a triumphant riff that is three parts rock and one part funk (shaken, stirred and served over jagged bits of ice with a pirate flag on the pink umbrella). Cornell’s vocals are gravelly and solid. The bass sounds round, deep and well integrated into the mix. Tom Morello’s effects-laden guitar solos are first heard on this track and pick up where he left off with Rage and help define the sound of the band, yet lend another layer of familiarity. Clearly Cornell’s vocal’s harkens back to the odd time signature days of Soundgarden creating the “I’ve-Heard-That-Song-Before” effect, even on the first spin of the record.
“Shadow on the Sun” on the DVD side of the disc boasts a full-sounding vocal for Cornell that is three-dimensional. As guitars, bass and drum are added in the first verse, the song develops in sonic complexity. The chorus erupts into more of a rock ballad but never gives you the urge to break out the Bic and wave it in time with the song.
This self-titled record, produced by Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Slayer, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash), has the feel of a truly great rock record and now three years after its release, it is showing how it is going to fit into the hierarchy of great rock records. The track “Gasoline” is one of the tracks that hold up best. This track really focuses melodically on guitarist Tom Morello’s way-out-there guitar effects. His solo is seriously happening. The band hits on a few Soundgarden-eque syncopated moments just to remind the listener that this group never takes their eye of the ball, resulting in a track that never lets up.
The track that I found myself listening to over and over again was the hit “Show Me How To Live.” This is some of the best-sounding bass I have heard in my system on any format. The kind of bass that makes you want to keep turning up the volume. The kind of bass that requires you to have the 350 watt per channel amps so that you don’t blow your tweeters on your speakers. You can hear in glorious detail the growling of the bass guitar during the verses. It seems like you can hear in the more quiet verses the friction as the bass strings are picked. Anyone who loves real rock and has good ears will fall out of your easy chair when you play them this track.
I broke out the stereo CD release of Audioslave from 2002 and, while the bass is still good, it doesn’t sound quite as round as the DVD side of the DualDisc. As the chorus explodes, the DVD version holds together much better during the melee of sound, as compared to the CD. If you only have the CD version, it is definitely improved by adding one of the latest “matrix” surround effects. I use Trifield on my Meridian 861 AV preamp and it added significant space to the stereo sound field. The CD benefits from the matrix surround more than the DVD but I reverted to Trifield for both formats. How the execs at BMG missed the opportunity to release a surround sound version of this album is beyond me, but considering just how solid Audioslave is as an album creatively, I can recommend that any Audio Video Revolution reader invest in an upgrade from the CD version to the DualDisc version. There just aren’t that many records this good in terms of production, performance and sound available on higher-resolution formats. I would openly recommend that all of my readers buy a third copy of the record if BMG released a 24-bit 96 kHz version, complete with 5.1 surround. Skip the added value music videos if you have to. I just want to be blown away by the music.