It has been sixteen years since Soundgarden have released an album. A thirteen year hiatus from playing ended with a compilation release called, Telephantasm in 2010. Ah, the alternative revolution! Remember lining your walls with Soundgarden, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails posters among others? Soundgarden was always a love hate thing for me. They were not on the top or bottom of my list. I bought the Badmotorfinger album and listened to the others through with nothing really hitting me hard. The new album, King Animal was released on November 12th, 2012.
I streamed the record online and was thoroughly impressed. My least favorite tune is the kick off track, Been Away For Too Long. It goes back to the love hate thing I have always had for certain Soundgarden tunes. However, I am seriously glad I hung on to continue listening. The album grows with excitement, emotion and dynamics. Technical rhythms, swirling guitar effects, noodling bass lines and Cornell’s signature high pitch yell. I have always pictured him on a mountain top while he does this. Ha. The second track, “Non-State Actor” showcases all of the previous things I enjoy. Definitely one of my favorite guitar riffs on the album. Track three, “By Crooked Steps” has a great timing sense. I like getting lost in it’s turn around. Reminds me of Led Zeppelin a little. This one is a stand out in every way. Love Matt Cameron’s drumming on this one. Tracks four and 5, “A Thousand Days Before” and “Blood on The Valley Floor” are great melodic tunes that continue with great structure and timing. Track 5 really grabbed the Alternative spirit of my youth. Love the riff. It brough me back to some of the old Badmotorfinger record for a moment. I also found myself thinking of some of the down-tuned Smashing Pumpkins riffs that I loved around the same time that was really enjoying this old gem of a record. I was really feeling Cornell on track 6: “Bones of Birds”. Never really got into his solo stuff or his time in Audioslave. I feel like this song is a reflection of where Chris Cornell is now. Track 7 “Taree” is eerily reminiscent of Alice in Chains for me. That’s not a bad thing. I dig this song. Lead guitars all over the vocals and a couple of good gristly yells from Cornell bring it back to Soundgarden World for me. “Attrition” (track number 8) feels like a punk rock tune. Really brings the pace up from track 7 for me. The next track “Black Saturday” is one of my faves on King Animal. The mid bridge section is epic and really features some nice shoegaze style guitars over a very mythical sort of chord structure. “Halfway There” is fairly poppy in nature but a good happy pickup for this diverse melodic and rhythmic event of a record. I realize now that this is not the intended track listing. It just so happened to rip this way for me. No matter what the order this record is an honest and strong effort from Soundgarden. I enjoyed it on my iHome iP1 speaker system with Bongiovi DPS technology enabled. I hope everyone enjoys this record as much as I have. Just skip the first track and it’s a great listen!