by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Audioslave - Audioslave

If you'd asked the fans (and me - i.e. not the pros) to draw up the plans for this mathematically unsound meeting of minds (1 + 3 = a lop-sided question mark), Audioslave would be the unsurprising, surface-pleasing result. The Rage guys play riffs that are half Rage, a quarter Soundgarden and a quarter Cornell solo, and then Cornell goes on about all sorts of stuff o'ertop, the legendary vocal shaman strangely not passionately welcome in my CD player, even if I hold the break-up of Soundgarden in lurching, ill-timed awe on par with that of The Police. Methinks the problem is nu-metal and nu-grunge fatigue, the fact that a dozen gold and platinum purveyors and an under-layer of nits, gnats and ants have nailed every one of these vocal melodies and riffs and whisper/roar dynamics into subconscious familiarity, over the ensuing years since Soundgarden broke up. And boy, after an arrow-storm of Geronimo riffs, does Audioslave ever brownout, later tracks sounding as stupid as the title of Cornell's flaccid Reroute To Remain, I mean, Euphoria Morning mess-about. Swami Rick Rubin produces the album like it's Celine Dion (perfectly, no personality), further chilling the cold star blue blight that nagged before the wrapper even came off, starting with the Anthrax cover art rip-off (Storm copying Storm), continuing with the faceless, facile name of the band.
Rating 6.5

Grave - Back From The Grave
(Century Media)

The sound is intact after six years away - thank the crypt-kickers - as Grave take their Dismember-meets-Crowbar menace into the next thousand years. Nothing much ever happened for these guys, but with the current mini-wave of bands (and supergroups) revisiting original Swedish death, it might be time for Grave and their cube van full of weighty, axle-breaking riffs, to get their due. Back From The Grave's crustified guitars are the key selling ingredient, while the doom and sophistication of the riffs they envelope enhance a situation somewhat lessened by a craptacious, somewhat cheaply American death drum sound. Although given the massive stormclouds behind these riffs, one gets the impression that putting the drums back in the mix was a deliberate choice designed to showcase the frightening scope, heft and intelligence of these classy riffs. Comes with a second disc stuffed with rare early demos.
Rating 8

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