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POP MUSIC

Too volatile a mix to last?

Audioslave is one part Soundgarden and three parts Rage Against the Machine, but band members insist the group won't implode.

December 01, 2002|Robert Hilburn | Times Staff Writer

The opening-week sales figure of 162,000 was less than half the first-week total of Rage Against the Machine's last collection of original material, 1999's "The Battle of Los Angeles." Still, that's impressive considering it'll take some time for Rage and Soundgarden fans to realize the connections in Audioslave. The group, which will make its first concert appearance Saturday as part of KROQ-FM's annual Almost Acoustic Christmas series at the Universal Amphitheatre, hopes to escalate that education process by touring extensively during 2003.

Audioslave would surely have come closer to the Rage sales total if it had kept the old name, but that would have been short-term thinking, and this band insists that it's in it for the long run.

"As delicate as it was when Zack left, I don't think we ever thought about breaking up," Morello says. "We had lost a singer, but we hadn't lost our love of playing together. I'm still proud of what we did with Rage. My only regret is that we didn't make more music together. I don't want to make that mistake again."

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Robert Hilburn, The Times' pop music critic, can be reached by e-mail at robert.hilburn@latimes.com

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On the Web

To hear samples from Audioslave's album, visit www.calendarlive.com.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

A look at Audioslave's origins

From Calendar's archives, a sampling of the excitement Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden generated with their most celebrated albums.Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine

*** 1/2 "Rage Against the Machine" (Epic, 1993). A striking, politically conscious debut. Zack de la Rocha is a bona fide star who combines on stage a Bob Marley-like charisma and a Chuck D.-style rap command -- and the music itself is as tough and relentless as his raps.

-- Robert Hilburn

**** "The Battle of Los Angeles" (Epic, 1999). The breakthrough here is that Rage finally begins to add some surprise left jabs and right hooks to its musical arsenal, giving us music that is both richer texturally and, in some places, warmer and more convincing.

-- R.H.

Soundgarden

*** 1/2 "Badmotorfinger" (A&M, 1991). Soundgarden's inevitable climb to primacy in the new-metal realm continues right on schedule with its second major-label album. In this visceral, wide-ranging panorama, the heavy stomp competes with an impulse to soar, stretching the musical architecture into taut, fanciful shapes.

-- Richard Cromelin

*** 1/2 "Superunknown" (A&M, 1994). Soundgarden's roots remain firmly in the Zeppelin-Sabbath realm, but with its sheer invention and willingness to experiment, the band comes on as the Beatles of grunge. Or its Pink Floyd.

-- R.C.

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