Educating Omand - Audioslave

In an effort to further her musical education, Susan Omand has been set "homework" of listening to albums released after the 1980s that she has missed out on. This time it's Audioslave's debut album...

See the full list of Educating Omand albums

Today, I discovered a band that makes me incredibly happy and incredibly sad all at the same time. Today, I discovered that millennial music really can sound like the best of early 70s rock, just with better sound engineering. Today, I discovered that I had missed out on one of the most amazing voices in a generation. Today, I discovered Audioslave.

Oh. My. God. Why did nobody make me listen to this band before? From the first track, Cochise, with its Led Zeppelin Whole Lotta Love sound (and that Pink Floyd-esque helicopter intro) right through to The Last Remaining Light, a psychedelic classic that brings the smell of late nights and strange substances that Jim Morrison would have been proud of, there is not a bad track on this album. I will admit, some I liked better than others – Like A Stone is probably the weakest on the album for me but it still has some wonderful prog rock weirdness built into it and I seem to remember Shadow on the Sun from the radio back in the day but never really paid it much attention because, well, I don’t know why really, just “because” really. But it is the rockier tracks where this album really comes into its own. Rage Against the Machine musicians make up the majority of the supergroup that is Audioslave and their sludgy guitars over that slow thumping rock drum beat is a joy to listen to. Add in the superb strangeness of prog rock sound engineering and you have something very, very special.

But it is Chris Cornell’s voice soaring above the RAtM backing that strokes my soul, makes me smile like a loon and cry like a baby. I’d heard of him before his untimely death last year, of course. He’d done one of the Bond themes, for Casino Royale, which was ok but not really memorable (sorry), he was singer with Soundgarden, whose 1994 song Black Hole Sun is such a whiny dirge it put me off trying anything else of theirs and, apparently, he fronted Temple of the Dog, a band that I hadn’t heard of until my closest friends started raving about them last year but, even then, I’ve just never got round to trying their stuff, lumping them in with “the Seattle grunge sound” that has never really appealed to me.

But with Audioslave I do, finally, get it. Consider me educated – yes, Chris Cornell was a genius. And I missed it.

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