After his second solo album (2007’s Carry On) and three mostly bad albums with Audioslave failed to make Chris Cornell a star for something other than being the singer and only good-looking guy in Soundgarden, he went into disaster mode and hired Timbaland — who knows a thing or two about disasters (his solo album obviously included) — to produce his third solo effort, Scream. Timbaland rose to the challenge of making Chris Cornell a solo star by producing arguably the worst album he’s ever had a hand in.
Cornell used to be known as the wailing Tyrannosaur who gave voice to the Zeppelin-esque power of Soundgarden’s sludge. Timbaland decided that Cornell should sing over R&B grooves, and then proceeded to reduce Cornell’s roar to but a whimper. His voice is filtered through effects, hidden behind austere, Bollywood-sounding and roundly uninteresting beats, and Cornell is even forced to drop lines like he’s a rapper (“That bitch ain’t a part of me,” he squawks on opener “Part of Me”).
At least when Cornell was in Audioslave, those crafting the tunes around him knew that he worked best over air-raid guitars that had power (even if he commandeered the spotlight to work on trite ballads too often). His previous solo album found him willing to try to be a folk troubadour (which he’s not), and now Scream finds Cornell dancing merrily on the grave of his former strengths as a performer. It used to be that every Cornell album led to a wish for another Soundgarden album. At this point, even another Audioslave record will do.