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Rage/Cornell-Credited Tracks Get Leaked Online

While pre-release bootlegging has long been a detriment (or promotional tool, if you ask some cynics) to hip-hop, it’s not the only genre having a hard time keeping its music under wraps.

Demos credited to the unnamed group featuring Chris Cornell and members of Rage Against the Machine have been leaked online. Thirteen tracks purported to be results of the collaboration surfaced on a Web site with an Italian domain on Thursday. Within minutes, the files were linked by several other sites and the songs were being swapped between file-sharers on services such as AudioGalaxy. As of Friday morning, attempts to visit the original site were met with an error message.

At press time, spokespeople for Rage Against the Machine and Chris Cornell – as well as Epic Records, the label that intended to release the as-yet-untitled LP on an unspecified date this summer – had not responded to inquiries to verify the authenticity of the songs or reports that the leaked material were demos of album tracks that were recorded in September.

Even an amateur ear could identify the former Soundgarden frontman’s style, however, and the sonic hybrid evident in the material shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with either of the involved parties.

Guitar lines elastic with liberal use of a wah pedal drive most of the songs, similar to Rage’s “Bulls on Parade,” while crisp, soaring vocals reminiscent of grunge-era wailing provide a distressed sincerity that is more subtle than former Rage vocalist Zack de la Rocha’s tormented assault. Surging tempos momentarily stall for muted strings that shift the songs into higher gear, a familiar Rage formula found on “Killing in the Name.” And while there is some explosive material in the mix, many of the songs are closer to Soundgarden’s slower tunes such as “Black Hole Sun” and “Fell on Black Days” than to flat-out barnburners.

There are moments where guitar heroics shine, adding flittering bleeps and blips to a solo or giving an eerie atmosphere to a waltzy number, but if this is guitarist Tom Morello, he sounds like he’s motioning through the riffs of 1992’s Rage Against the Machine or 1996’s Evil Empire rather than taking up the stylistic progression found on Rage’s final album of original material, 1999’s The Battle of Los Angeles.

The alleged Rage/Cornell demos are the latest example of material from a highly anticipated album to surface in cyberspace. Eminem’s The Eminem Show became prematurely available Saturday (May 11) (see “The Eminem Show Coming Even Sooner; Bootlegs Spur Date Change”), and fans were feeling Korn’s Untouchables nearly two months prior to its release date.

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