Audioslave doesn’t capture supergroup glory; Dirty Dozen remembers Marvin Gaye; Hinder channels ego rock and fails
Revelations , the group’s third album, may also be its last, or so it’s rumored, and if that’s true, then it will also go down as Audioslave’s least galvanizing effort. The record kicks off with four straight tracks of Morellan-standard mid-tempo riff rock, over which Cornell belts pleasant but unremarkable vocal melodies. It all makes for better-than-average filler, certainly, but it’s hardly the incendiary opening blast one might expect from the pairing of Cornell’s pipes with Rage’s rhythmic muscle. It’s not until the fifth track that the band stirs the pot with “Original Fire,” a lively four-on-the-floor jam that comes off as a sort of invigorating post-grunge homage to the Rolling Stones and Grand Funk Railroad.
But Revelations picks up steam over the course of the final six tracks. Audioslave has a knack for stirring, saccharine-free modern rock power balladry, in the wintry mode of “I am the Highway” from their self-titled debut. The latter half of Revelations sees the quartet flex their anthemic muscle on songs like “Shape of Things to Come” and “Wide Awake,” howling epics that take best advantage of Cornell’s fraying but still majestically potent instrument. By the time he rides out the on the soaring refrain of the album-closing “Moth” (“I don’t fly around your fire anymore”), you’ve almost forgotten that Revelations got off to such a slow start. If Audioslave were anything other than a supergroup comprising modern rock’s heaviest hitters, “almost” might be enough.
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Musically, a cover album provokes questions of its own. The songs are great, as has been proven by time. It then falls on the shoulders of The Dirty Dozen to revisit these tracks in a way that merits their re-recording them in the first place.
With the aid of visiting performers (Chuck D, G Love, and others) the band has successfully brought New Orleans and Marvin Gaye together. Throughout all the philosophizing, both musically and politically, The Dirty Dozen creates a meditative and soulful recording of Gaye’s powerful album.
The arrangements are densely layered and the performances passionate. The need to compare the new recordings to the originals is both irresistible and unfortunate, because none can keep up with Marvin Gaye and the rest of Motown.
Hinder’s (already gold) debut album, Extreme Behavior , contains an abundance of the familiar power ballads, such as “Get Stoned” and wall-of-sound rockers like “Room 21” that attempt to re-visit the golden era of stadium rock, but for the most part fall short. Attitude aside, Hinder seems to be channeling Creed or Vertical Horizon every bit as much as Night Ranger or Warrant. Their sound is more a hybrid between the yesteryear bands they love and their more immediate ’90s predecessors. A bit too grungy in delivery and controlled in structure to hang with the trebly, free-form head-bangers that Wayne and Garth bowed down to, Hinder perhaps needs to dive in more recklessly on their next go-round rather than wade in gingerly as they have done here, if they are to recapture the proverbial lightning in the bottle.
The hair may not be as big, the sound not as brash and the demeanor a bit jaded by a 21st century consciousness, but if Hinder learns the lessons of their ’80s heroes, the substance of their music—mindless to many—might just hit the right note with a fragmented rock’n’roll crowd that’s hungry for the days when power chords reigned supreme.