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Scream – Chris Cornell album review

Chris Cornell performs in London
Chris Cornell performs in London
In the shadow of U2’s release last week comes Chris Cornell’s groundbreaking album, Scream. If you’ve listened to any of the hype, you’ll most likely not give the former Audioslave & Soundgarden frontman much of a chance this time around. On the contrary, I’m quite enamored by this “album-oriented album” (as Cornell himself pitches it) and can’t stop listening to it. How often do you get to hear one of the kings of grunge sing with dance/R&B music by Timbaland?

When I have others listen to the new release (it’s streaming for free on MySpace), the voice is an initial drawback. It really does take some time to get used to hearing a made-for-rock voice against a dance beat. While us “I love the 90s” folk appreciate the voice of Soundgarden, it’s not a trained voice. Cornell puts soul into his music, and that’s why so many people love him.

After a couple listens, though, you’ll gain a better appreciation for both Cornell and Timbaland’s talents. The music literally never stops as there is an interlude at the end of every song. One could conceivably have a Scream dance party, although the album doesn’t quite work in that respect. The intensity is consistent throughout and the songwriting is solid, too. The only line that I cringe at is, “We met at a party bout almost two years ago,” in “Other Side of Town” as it sounds a little too juvenile; the rest of the song makes up for it, though. The five songs bookended in the middle of the album by the first two singles (“Ground Zero” and “Scream”) really have a great flow. “Never Fall Away” is a ballad standout followed by the Indian-flavored “Take Me Alive”.

I’m curious to see what demographic this album clicks with the best and where we’ll be hearing it the most. I haven’t heard anyone call this a sellout album yet – Cornell is too down-to-earth to fall for that. This is a collaboration as impressive as Santana’s Supernatural, although it’s not quite as accessible. Give it a listen and see if you can stop yourself from dancing or singing along.