Epic/Interscope - 2005 - 58 minutes
Audioslave's personnel - one quarter Soundgarden (singer Chris Cornell) and three quarters Rage Against the Machine (guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk) - created some of the most memorable heavy rock songs of the 1990s. Whether you're in the fan or can't stand camps, the likes of 'Killing in the Name', 'Bullet in the Head', 'Jesus Christ Pose' and 'Black Hole Sun', have that staying power that only a few bands can muster.
Two albums in, however, Audioslave have yet to hit those heights and 'Out of Exile' becomes tiresomely predictable by the close. Rather than jump off the map and go in a whole new direction, Audioslave instead go around in a circle and show you the same things that they did on their 2002 debut. No-one was in any doubt that they could do stomping rock or that Morello could make his guitar sound like a car alarm before that record came out, so why the need to remind people of it again is 'Out of Exile's greatest disappointment.
Cornell showed as far back as the 'Singles' soundtrack that low-key isn't a problem for him while his new bandmates are good enough to play anything, but only 'Be Yourself' and 'Doesn't Remind Me' deliver the shifting moods here that should be present throughout. The rest of the record is caught in that foggy area between solid and unremarkable - tellingly, the bonus track, a live acoustic version of 'Like a Stone', is far better and more moving than most of the songs that made the final cut.
Audioslave's potential to be a Led Zeppelin for the next decade remains huge, but with that comes a responsibility to their audience and each other to refuse to play it safe and be prepared to fail. After listening to this you may feel like you've heard 'Led Zeppelin I' twice when what you really wanted was 'Physical Graffiti'.
Tracklisting: Your Time Has Come - Out of Exile - Be Yourself - Doesn't Remind Me - Drown Me Slowly - Heaven's Dead - The Worm - Man or Animal - Yesterday or Tomorrow - Dandelion - 1 Zero - The Curse - Like a Stone (Live Bonus Track)