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By Michael Norman  

There are plenty of new bands out there pretending to be rock stars, filling iPods and radio play lists everywhere with disposable, passionless music. Then there's Audioslave -- a band pieced together from the ruins of two of the greatest rock outfits of the 1990s. The pairing of former Soundgarden lead vocalist Chris Cornell with Rage Against the Machine's guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk was among the most hyped superstar mash-ups in rock history. History tells us that supergroups rarely live up to the sum of their parts. But Audioslave has proven to be a glorious anomaly, producing three albums -- 2002's Audioslave, 2005's Out of Exile and 2006's Revelations - that arguably rank among the best rock albums of all time.

What makes Audioslave special? You could point to the taut, original songwriting, or to Cornell's charismatic, ferocious classic-rock vocals, or Morello's innovative, mind-bending lead guitar work. Whatever it is, the magic and the chemistry is on full display in the new Revelations, an album that blends fist-pumping anthemic rock ("Somedays," "Shape of Things to Come") with funky, post-modern fist-pumping funk and soul ("Original Fire," "Broken City"). Toss in pointed, fist-pumping political statements ("Wide Awake") and the occasional fist-pumping power ballad ("Until We Fall") and you've got the makings of an authentic rock classic.

Michael Norman is Entertainment Editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.