New Damage

Chris Cornell in his Soundgarden days. Photo courtesy of Stereogum.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Following Soundgarden's dissolution, Euphoria Morning (A&M-1999), the solo debut by Chris Cornell was undoubtedly a highly-anticipated affair. And 'round these parts it didn't disappoint. (Those that were expecting something else were clearly not paying attention to a new direction Cornell was hinting at on the final Soundgarden releases. Or his songwriting on the Temple of the Dog album, for that matter.) After his three-album stint in Audioslave, alongside the instrumental members of Rage Against the Machine, Cornell chose to reward those of us patiently waiting for a followup to Euphoria with last year's Carry On, a lackluster release, which included an uninspired cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" that would portend even more dire musical consequences.

Many an eyebrow was arched when Cornell announced he had teamed up with r&b producer Timbaland for album number three. (Timbaland's widely reported assertion that the album would make the former Soundgarden frontman the "first rock star in the [urban night] clubs" didn't help things, either.) Well, if first single "Long Gone" is any indication, our worst fears have come to fruition. The man who once belted "Outshined" and "The Day I Tried to Live" has been transformed into...Seal. (Nothing against Seal, but c'mon.)

Now, we're not arguing against an artist's desires to explore new things and possibly reinvent themselves, or even refusing to wean ourselves off the nostalgia train, but...man, this is disappointing. Listen to "Long Gone" here and decide for yourself.

By the way, Cornell is touring with Linkin Park this summer--is he trying to go through with a deathwish or just looking to squander all the accumulated goodwill that's come his way over the years?--and it should be interesting to see if he'll be playing this newfangled material for that crowd. And what they would make of it.