The Fletch Fetch: Suffering from spectres of the past

Audioslave

Out of Exile

Interscope/Epic

Three out of five stars

Without fail, the ghosts of a band’s past come back to haunt them, breathing into them either new life or the stench of sour regret.

Sadly, Rage-Against-the-Soundgarden super-group Audioslave invokes only the spirits of better days gone by in their new release, Out of Exile.

Guerrilla radio static christens this alterna-grunge dream team’s second effort, as the Rage-worthy, fuzz-heavy riffing of “Your Time Has Come” calls on, well, Rage-worthy, fuzz-heavy bass over a Rage-worthy, fuzz-heavy classic rock groove.

However, without Zach De La Rocha’s militant war cries, the insurgence of the rhythm section’s protest-jams loses focus. The languid yowls of Chris Cornell are still impressive, but undeniably fit better in Soundgarden’s grungy-gloom.

Out of Exile does manage to break from its legendary trappings once in a while, as the quartet sloughs off the sonic-sludge and basks in the warmth of Western-tinged ballads “Be Yourself” and “#1 Zero,” sounding much more graceful than grunge. The Slave truly steps into its own, though, on “Yesterday to Tomorrow”-a spaced-out groove in which Cornell breaches the vocal dynamics of past collaborator and passed-before-his-time legend Jeff Buckley.

Still, Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden cast two of the most prolific shadows of the 90s. Though ripe with potential, Audioslave has some big shoes to fill, and has yet to find its way into the light. When it does, expect the product to cast an undoubtedly grand shadow of its own.

Dan Fletcher