on November 13, 2012
For those expecting another Louder Than Love or Badmotorfinger might be disappointed. But for those who immensely enjoyed Superunknown and Down on the Upside you will find that King Animal has the trippy experimentation of Down on the Upside with the focus and strike of Superunknown and even manages to do some new stuff too. "Non-State Actor" combines the might of Led Zeppelin with the grove of Fugazi, "By Crooked Steps" is surprisingly heavy and frightening, "A Thousand Days Before" is a rolling psychedelic masterpiece, "Birds of Bones" creeps along like "The Day I Tried to Live", "Black Saturday" recalls "Burden In My Hand" while throwing in a weird bridge, but the real treasures come from the last three tracks: The erratic "Worse Dreams", the smokin' "Eyelid's Mouth", and last but certainly not least, the epic chain-gang mantra of "Rowing" that somewhat resembles "Stairway to Heaven" in structure. There is one or two filler tracks (one of them being the out of place Cornell solo sounding song "Halfway There") but there's plenty of classic Soundgarden songs to be had. I can safely call this the best Soundgarden album since Superunknown.
on November 13, 2012
The last song on Down on the Upside was titled "Boot Camp". One of the most beautiful Soundgarden songs and viewed by SG nuts like myself as the perfect ending. Needless to say, I always hoped they'd get back together or at least sell a damn t-shirt I can wear to prove my age. When `Live to Rise' came out, I got online to find a good oven to stick my head into, but I refrained. To have Soundgarden grouped with the horrendous music on the Avengers soundtrack was horrifying. I was freaking out about this new album. Will life as I know it end?
Will Cornell ask Timbaland for help in "dropping" beats? Will Kim Thayil be arrested by Homeland Security? Will Ben Shepard calm down? Will Matt Cameron implode from being too awesome?
The answer is a resounding no! And it shows! King Animal is simply awesome. My first impression was disdain, at the `you know my name' -esque titled `Been away too long'. Yeah, it starts off okay, slightly meh, and then 2 minutes in, you know Soundgarden is still Soundgarden. The euphoria for me peaked about two minutes in, and lasted all the way through the album. Glad you're back, guys! Thanks!!!!
Favorite song - By Crooked Steps
on November 13, 2012
I love the first reviewers satire. That was a good laugh. :)
What can I say? Soundgarden is back after 16 years with a great and heavy album. For those of us that grew up on rock, grunge and alternative in the 90s, we were younger and more impressionable. But we definitely understood the sound of a generation. I was 24 when Down on The Upside was released, and I'm 40 now. Although my musical tastes have evolved, I still come back to Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Green River, Mudhoney, Mother Love Bone, Temple of The Dog (the album created by the unfortunate event of Andrew Wood's death), and the Melvins.
With that said, I've given this album a listen several times over the course of the last week on iTunes. Without going through a song by song breakdown, I can definitely say it's worth the money. If you're a fan of the band, this is really a no-brainer. While it doesn't have the sound of Badmotorfinger or Louder Than Love, it does remind me a lot like Superunknown. Part of that is the sound, and the other is the catchiness of the songs. I didn't feel this way with Down On The Upside. While good in it's own right, I do prefer King Animal. Some songs will stand out for different reasons. For example, Attrition to me sounds a bit like Sonic Youth and Mudhoney, which is why I personally love it. And some of the sludgier tunes are reminiscent of the Melvins. That isn't to say that they holistically "sound" like any of these bands, but more that they're reminiscent of other bands within the same time capsule.
If nothing else, listening to this album will remind you of a time when we all had fewer responsibilities. It a was time when the things that WE cared about were center stage in pop culture rather than Jersey Shore and Lady Gaga.
For those of you that are new to Soundgarden or simply want a great rock album, give Soundgarden a shot. I say rock because grunge is really an overused term in my opinion. And honestly, if you really knew grunge, you wouldn't classify Soundgarden as such. But in 2012, you really won't find anything else out there like King Animal.
on December 10, 2012
Having been a Soundgarden fan since early high school, I wasn't sure what to expect from their comeback album, the first in 16 long years. Not only has technology, the bandmembers' age, and MTV changed; the musical landscape itself has transformed tremendously since the mid '90s. The fading grunge scene has all but died, paving the way for countless uninspired bands like some kind of cruel slash-and-burn cycle that began with a beautiful forest but ended with an ugly cold jungle. However, in the midst of said forest, there has always been a garden. Sometimes serene, sometimes abrasive, sometimes not even appearing at all, this garden is more or less the genesis AND revelation of alternative heaviness. Obviously, this palindromic force is Soundgarden. Reforming in 2010 with a new compilation album, their reunion generated a lot of feedback, but the "new" songs on the album didn't really generate much buzz. Likewise, their song for the "AVENGERS" soundtrack was fair as a standalone rock song, but absolutely stale and generic for a band with such unprecedented power and unpredictability. Was Soundgarden still able to kindle the fire they'd created long ago? I treaded cautiously but enthusiastically while preparing for their comeback album....
The lead single, "Been Away Too Long," makes a LOT of sense. Perhaps too much, as it almost seems like a blatant marketing attempt to get everyone charged up with a kick-ass rock song that disguises an album that may otherwise not be representative of Soundgarden's uncompromising sound. Thankfully, that notion is false. In fact, "Been Away Too Long" is one of the lesser tracks on the album. "Non-State Actor" has a funky drive and a hell of a lot of attitude, and in my opinion, it's the REAL album opener. "By Crooked Steps" introduces Open-D (DADF#AD) tuning to their sonic catalog, with superb results. It has an almost dissonant time signature, but with repeated listens, it becomes apparent that it's subtly fantastic work- much like the album itself. Then there's the album's absolute masterpiece- "A Thousand Days Before." It begins with a serene, meditative guitar riff that'll make you crank the volume until a surprise ditty makes you jump out of your seat (it happened to me). An almost wistful track, the song will make you feel romantic, reminiscent, and powerful at the same time, as Chris sings, "Here in the cold, where no one stands beside me/ I'll be on my own side, you know where to find me..." It's an anthem for the loner in all of us. Other highlights include the creeping "Blood on the Valley Floor"(with a riff that's cerebral and slugging), the eerily mortal "Bones of Birds"(with an anthemic chorus reminiscent of "Blow up the Outside World"), the folky "Black Saturday," and the epic "Rowing," the album's closing song that manages to be simultaneously soothing, unsettling, and leaving the listener thirsty for more.
All in all, this is an album that takes TIME to grown on the listener. It lacks the hooks of their previous albums, including Down on the Upside, but you know what? This album is more rewarding, more precise, and more confident than ANY grunge album released since Screaming Trees' 1996 opus, "Dust". Listen for yourself. It may take weeks, months, years to fully comprehend this album. In a sense, that makes the listener hope that the sheer mystery of this release will never dissipate.
Final Score: 8.1/10
on November 25, 2012
Wow, this is a great album, but I didn't know it for probably fifteen listens. That's when the subtle, understated nature of the melodies in the songs had sunk in, and I understood what I was listening to. THERE ARE NO CATCHY SONGS, other than maybe "Bones of Birds", in my opinion, but this is an album I will be listening to for a long, long time. This album seems like the natural progression of an older, wiser Soundgarden. The pace is a little less frenetic. No "Never The Machine Forever" here. My favorite Soundgarden album is "DOTU" and this album is like that, without the wonky interludes that SG placed in most DOTU songs. This album is very fluid. In particular, the drums and bass are excellent. The guitar is solid, but not noisy for the sake of being noisy. Cornell's vox are spot on. He's about fifty, and his voice sounds better than Robert Plant's at the same age. Out of thirteen songs, I love nine, and the other ones are good. Signed, a Soundgarden fan since 1988.
on December 8, 2012
The reunion thing is always tough to judge appropriately. Often times, it just gets dismissed as a money grab or a desperate attempt to recapture some long lost magic. But, what if it's just time for the band to work together again on their own terms?
By all accounts, that's the case with the new Soundgarden record and upcoming tour. Luckily, King Animal isn't a desperate attempt to recapture the past, it's a pretty strong record. There's nothing here that will tarnish their reputation; in fact, much of this material fits perfectly in their catalog. If you're a fan, this is certainly worth buying.
on December 2, 2012
Each track on this album is vintage Soundgarden. I dont know wtf some reviewers are talking about. The only Cornell-solo-biased song is "Halfway There".
Buy this album if you liked Superunknown or Down on the Upside. It does not disappoint!!!!
on December 3, 2012
When I heard Soundgarden released their first new studio album in 16 years, I admit I cringed at first. I wondered it Chris Cornell's voice would sound "old and tired". I wondered if it would be even remotely close to the quality of "Badmotorfinger" or "Superunknown". I'm excited to say that I believe "King Animal" is on par with both of these classic albums, and easily surpasses "Down on the Upside" in overall rock energy and creative melody and harmony. One of the things I always loved about Soundgarden is their ability to create LONG albums full of great material that made you want to listen all the way through, and that's exactly what they've done here. Oh yeah - Chris Cornell's voice sounds AMAZING. If you're a Soundgarden fan, trust me - you won't be disappointed. Or if you're just looking for an excellent album that ROCKS (something VERY rare these days), you'll love it. One of the best rock albums of 2012 - period.
on December 7, 2012
If you liked the direction Soundgarden went in with Down on the Upside, you will definitely enjoy this album. No, it's not as dark or heavy as their earlier works, but that's not to say that it doesn't feel very organically like a Soundgarden album (and I do own and listen to all their previous albums). King Animal feels like the work of a band that still has great ideas musically but has also matured significantly in the sixteen years since they last put out an album.
The classic elements are all there musically and lyrically, but it's striking to me what a difference in tone there is on the new album. Even at their most aggressive -- for example, on the somewhat political track 'Non-State Actor' -- it's hard not to get a sense of hopefulness from the lyrics and music -- and much of the rest of the album is like this. 'Bones of Birds' is on the surface a very dark song (with a catchy chorus, by the way), but it's also clear they are writing about family and the fears of trying to raise one, and it's expressed beautifully. This is a song that the 20-something, sarcastic, angst-ridden, substance-abusing kids who wrote Badmotorfinger probably couldn't have written. The converse of that, of course, is that we probably won't get another 'Rusty Cage' from middle-aged Soundgarden, but that matters little if the music is still good, and it is.
So despite the rather audacious tone of the album's first track (which initially turned me off, though it's grown on me), King Animal is not really a "comeback" album in the sense that they're clearly not trying to recapture some past glory (or past image of themselves) a la Metallica with Death Magnetic, or countless other such albums from older acts. Rather, King Animal sounds like Soundgarden pretty unassumingly picked up where they left off after Down on the Upside -- still Soundgarden, only aged like a fine wine.
on November 30, 2012
This is one of those albums that I'll be listening to ten years from now, I'm not as young as the members of the band, but I know this is as good as "Down on the Upside" and I'm still listening to that fifteen years later. Trust me this is a classic. I buy vinyl because Chis Cornell and I love this format.SO TURN THIS MOFO UP AND ROCK OUT !!!