In case you didn't catch the symbolism, Chris Cornell is smashing a guitar on the cover of Scream because he's done with those six-strings -- he's leaving it all behind for Timbaland, who has long wanted to leave hip-hop and R&B behind to make a rock album. If this seems like the pair are working at cross-purposes to achieve the same goal, that's as accurate an assumption as the guess that the two are abandoning their strengths, even their sense of self, in a bizarre shared middle-age crisis. Scream is one of those rare big-budget disasters, an exercise in misguided ambition that makes no sense outside of pure theory. As an idea, this rock-dance fusion isn't without merit; clearly, Cornell needs to do something to shake himself out of his solo stupor and Timbaland is an imaginative, daring producer whose gifts are not limited by genre, but this isn't a collaboration, it's a car collision. As much as they want to stretch, neither Cornell nor Timbaland are willing to leave their comfort zone or -- perhaps more accurately -- are able to leave the familiar behind. Timbaland's productions never approach rock in sound or form but to be fair, his tracks are often augmented by additional production by anyone from Justin Timberlake to OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder, who brings his contributions as close to anonymous radio fodder as he possibly can. Whoever was directly responsible, Scream winds up sounding like skittering, generic dance-pop, the kind of thing that Timbaland contributes for a high price to a Pussycat Dolls album, only graced by Cornell's caterwaul, sometimes looped, sometimes manipulated by Auto-Tune because that's what you do with a pop album in 2009. Cornell's growl clashes against the cold, clinking rhythm tracks -- not in a challenging way, just in a jarring one, drawing attention to the chasm between the two collaborators. Then again, Scream never seems like a collaboration, it seems like it was assembled by committee, discussed in boardrooms, farmed out to contract players and stitched together on computer. This might make for a mess, but Scream does have one advantage of Chris Cornell's other solo albums: as bad as it is, it is never, ever boring.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine