When Soundgarden first broke up in 1997, frontman Chris Cornell — who has one of the best sets of pipes in the rock singer business — initially embarked on a solo career (he released the underrated Euphoria Morning in 1999). But really, it seemed like he was just waiting for Zack De La Rocha to exit Rage Against the Machine in 2000, leaving bandmates Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk searching for a new voice. They were introduced to Cornell by superstar rock producer Rick Rubin, and the rest is history. The band hit it off immediately, adopted the name Audioslave, recorded 19 songs in three weeks and shortly thereafter dropped their self-titled debut album, which hit the streets on this day in 2002.
Prior to the release of Audioslave, there was a great deal of speculation regarding what the band would actually sound like. Would the Rage boys flip to a more classic rock sound in order to play to Cornell’s strengths, or would the singer try a rap or two? The reality was that neither of those things ended up being true, and Audioslave sounded a lot like the guy from Soundgarden singing with Rage Against the Machine.
Of course, that’s exactly what a lot of people wanted. Audioslave is full of big, powerful riffs, thudding percussion and Cornell’s incredible wail. First single “Cochise” was an excellent introduction into the world of Audioslave, as it wrapped savage riffing around a gorgeous chorus. In fact, the most remarkable moments of Audioslave (which went on to sell over three million copies) are the quiet, prettier ones, like the slow-burning “I Am the Highway” and the power ballad “Like a Stone,” one of the band’s biggest hits.