Plenty of Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden buffs have been hoping Audioslave would produce a great album on its second try, but they'll have to settle for pretty good. Although Out of Exile is solid and listenable, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford are ultimately pushing product, not the envelope's edge.
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As was the case on the quartet's eponymous 2002 debut, Cornell dominates the proceedings. His words typically deal with personal politics as opposed to the incendiary variety preferred by the Machinists, and most of the music could pass for the '80s version of '70s hard rock were it not for the squeegee-esque guitar solos Morello inserts into pleasantly heavy, albeit familiar, tracks such as "Drown Me Slowly" and "The Worm." He also remains notably airplay-conscious, as he demonstrates on "Be Yourself," a semi-catchy/semi-bland slab of power balladry custom-made for the "Like a Stone" demographic.
Careerist moves like this one suggest that Audioslave, which was initially seen as a one-shot, may be around for the long haul. But for a band with so many liberals, Exile is awfully conservative.