While the members of Audioslave shy away from using the word “supergroup,” it’s hard to avoid using the term when referring to the foursome. Audioslave combines the talents of Chris Cornell, former frontman of Seattle grunge gods Soundgarden, and guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk, late of L.A. rap-metal pioneers Rage Against the Machine.
Considering the band members’ backgrounds in two of alternative rock’s most influential bands, it’s not surprising that Audioslave’s self-titled, Rick Rubin-produced debut album has been one of the year’s most eagerly anticipated releases. The album — which features cover art designed by Storm Thorgerson, best known for his distinctive ’70s work with Pink Floyd — retains elements from the band members’ previous musical incarnations, including the thunderous interplay of the power-trio axis and the powerful vocal wail and soul-baring lyrics that were Cornell’s Soundgarden trademarks. But the album boasts a broader musical and emotional palette that marks Audioslave as a distinct entity. For instance, the political lyrics that were a RATM trademark are absent, although social issues do crop up on such tracks as the album’s first single, “Cochise,” titled in honor of the rebellious Apache chief of the same name.
Given Audioslave’s big-name pedigree and the media scrutiny that’s accompanied every phase of its short history, it’s not surprising that various observers continue to speculate about the collective’s long-term future. Morello, for one, doesn’t seem concerned.
“This is a band, not a one-off,” says the guitarist. “I understand where people could wonder about what’s going on, and no one knows what the future holds. But I couldn’t be happier. From the moment we got together with Chris, it felt like a runaway train, an incredible, liberating burst of creativity.”