A major label announces two surround titles within a couple weeks of each other, a first in a very long time in North America where the majors have given up on surround sound since around 2005/2006 when they withdrew from the Super Audio CD/DVD-Audio format war. Could this be the push some of us have been hoping for finally starting? Soundgarden and Bob Marley both getting brand new 5.1 mixes?
Well after 8 weeks of asking we finally got the details of this release a few days ago in terms of the technical specs, they did go back to the original analogue multitracks to create the 5.1 mix and they did go back to the original analogue stereo master to create the vinyl, although they archived it to 24/192 and then mastered in the digital domain. Adam Kasper who produced Down on the Upside and King Animal was going to do the 5.1 mix, he has no 5.1 credits to his name so that was a bit concerning but at least he was using the multitracks so we knew we could hope for a fully discrete mix.
Now as we begin to listen we realize it was all for nought, despite all the care taken or seemingly being taken to go back to the original source material we have a release that's been slammed in true loudness wars fashion. One might have expected the regular CDs and lossy digital download files to be victims, but this is also available on Blu-ray Audio in 24-bit/96kHz stereo AND on another audiophile website (name removed in case it's against review policies) as a 24-bit/192kHz download. These are both equally as dynamically challenged as the CD! It makes no sense. People buy 24-bit to listen to on superior equipment. Dynamically lifeless music is only bearable on the cheapest in ear buds while busy commuting or working out when you're not really paying attention to the music.
Why Soundgarden? Why? Why doesn't the sonic integrity of your music mean more to you? Why Adam Kasper? Why? You're listening to this on studio monitors, you know what the original tape sounds like! We have gotten close to it with the original CD. This is so frustrating it's hard to put into words. Please, let the tipping point be nigh. Let's push this review to the top so people know not to waste their hard-earned money supporting mediocre releases.
Here's the dynamic range log of the 24/192 download.
Analyzed: Soundgarden / Superunknown (Deluxe Edition)
DR Peak RMS Duration Track
DR5 0.00 dB -6.46 dB 3:53 01-Let Me Drown
DR6 0.00 dB -7.69 dB 5:13 02-My Wave
DR7 0.00 dB -8.02 dB 4:43 03-Fell On Black Days
DR6 0.00 dB -6.45 dB 4:26 04-Mailman
DR6 0.00 dB -6.62 dB 5:07 05-Superunknown
DR6 0.00 dB -7.76 dB 6:10 06-Head Down
DR6 0.00 dB -8.12 dB 5:19 07-Black Hole Sun
DR6 0.00 dB -6.68 dB 4:07 08-Spoonman
DR6 0.00 dB -7.23 dB 5:48 09-Limo Wreck
DR7 0.00 dB -8.25 dB 5:20 10-The Day I Tried To Live
DR6 0.00 dB -6.90 dB 1:34 11-Kickstand
DR7 0.00 dB -7.88 dB 4:17 12-Fresh Tendrils
DR6 0.00 dB -7.05 dB 5:09 13-4th Of July
DR8 0.00 dB -10.42 dB 2:15 14-Half
DR6 0.00 dB -7.86 dB 7:04 15-Like Suicide
DR6 -0.24 dB -7.55 dB 3:18 16-She Likes Surprises
DR6 -0.54 dB -8.05 dB 5:27 30-The Day I Tried To Live (Alternate Mix)
DR6 -0.20 dB -8.12 dB 5:13 31-4th Of July (Instrumental)
DR6 -0.20 dB -7.55 dB 5:09 32-Superunknown (Instrumental)
Number of tracks: 19
Official DR value: DR6
Samplerate: 192000 Hz
Bits per sample: 24
Bitrate: 7813 kbps
Stop the madness. Vote with your wallet. When these guys stop selling records they will ask why, they will read social media, they will see that people are tired of being fooled by the "loudness is better" approach that idiots in suits at record labels are telling you we want. We don't want that. We have NEVER signed petitions begging for more loudness wars releases. We have never pined for dynamically lifeless music.
Dear Lord PLEASE let them not muck up the Bob Marley release.
Adam Kasper, executives at Universal responsible for this release, Soundgarden; please all give yourselves a good kick in the backside for ruining this incredible album.
Good people out there who love music, stick to your original 1994 CDs of Superunknown, the experience is much, much better. And if you are looking for the superior analogue experience then save up your coin (you won't need a lot more than the list price of this Super Deluxe set anyway) and find the German pressing that Willem Makee cut around 2004. It was from a tape copy of the analogue stereo master and is the only all analogue cut of Superunknown available. The new vinyl may be pressed very well at QRP but the mastering is the same as the CD if the downloadable vinyl rip files are any indication.
Link to original superior 1994 CD release on Amazon is right here - Superunknown
What a shame this project wasn't done with someone like Barry Diament from Soundkeeper Recordings. I just came across a great interview (search for "Audiostream Barry Diament" for the url) with Barry Diament talking about his illustrious career path and this bit really made me smile:
"By the mid-1990's I realized that many clients were starting to evaluate my work using the level meters instead of the loudspeakers. At this point, I had to stop and ask myself just what I sought to accomplish as an audio engineer. Now, I enjoy loudness when it is appropriate but in my experience, if you want to shake the walls with AC/DC (or with Mahler), the best way to achieve this is with the playback volume control. Any other way, such as arbitrarily increasing the level on the recording itself involves a host of sonic trade-offs. First among them, is the sense of Life that comes from musical dynamics. Since my goals as an engineer are sourced in my love of music, I didn't want to participate in the ongoing Loudness Wars. All the truly great sounding records and CDs in my collection had much lower average levels than what the majors were releasing. I wanted to preserve all the musical Life in every source I mastered too and never used compression myself. While some say it increases "punch", the sonic evidence tells a quite different story. Besides, how does one increase punch by reducing dynamics, where the punch "lives"? So, I started accepting only those jobs where the client's prime interest was the musical presentation and the preservation of musical dynamics."
on October 20, 2001
I've listened to lots of music, and "Superunknown" doubtlessly stands as arguably the best album I have ever heard. Visionary, perfectly executed and technically impeccable, Soundgarden set the standard for dark hard rock with this one. I can't really think of a place to start in praising this album, but Chris Cornell's vocals are as good a place as any. From the hushed tones of "Fell on Black Days" to the cathartic wailing of tunes like "My Wave" and the propulsive singing of "Fourth of July," Cornell can simply do it all. His dark, churning, guitar riffs, aided by Kim Thayil's soaring, distorted solos, complete the powerful atmosphere of these songs. Add in Matt Cameron's nimble and inventive drumwork and the result is a musical masterpiece. The variety of this album is also noteworthy, as it mixes hard rockers like the opening double shot of "Let Me Drown" and "My Wave" with slower, more melodic numbers like the hits "Fell on Black Days" and "The Day I Tried To Live." The megahit "Black Hole Sun," while a strong song, is easily the worst track on the album, with the exception of the filler track "Half." "Superunknown" boasts all that serious music fans could possibly want, from creativity to technical precision to complex arrangements to a truly masterful and powerful overall vocal performance from Chris Cornell. A masterpiece in every sense of the word.
on February 14, 2006
While Nirvana brought "grunge" and alternative rock to the mainstream, it was Soundgarden, along with Mudhoney and Green River (the precursor to Mudhoney) that, along with others, helped create the "grunge" sound. The band spent much of the 80s playing to enthusiastic audiences and building up a fan base. The band's early work, like "Screaming Life" (1987) and "Ultramega OK" (1988) saw a real Sabbath and Stooges influence, and while this influence remained, the band started to get a more refined and metallic edge as they progressed, with "Louder than Love" (1989) and "Badmoterfinger" (1991). In the spring of 1994, at the twilight of the Seattle grunge era, Soundgarden unleashed what would be their masterpiece "Superunknown."
To the general, fickle public that followed whatever was the flavor-of-the-week, Soundgarden's 1994 smash album "Superunknown" may have seemed to come out of left-field. While Soundgarden's pervious, top-40 album "Badmoterfinger" (1991) as well as a high profile tour with Guns N' Roses and props from Kurt Cobain may have put the band firmly on the map, it was "Superunknown" that made Soundgarden one of rock's premier bands of the 90s.
"Superunknown" takes up where "Badmoterfinger" left off, but "Superunknown" is less metallic, and there is a greater focus on melody with a noticeable Beatles influence present. In addition, the scope of the band's sound is expanded with the appearance of guest musicians (cello, viola, piano). While some fans of the band's earlier work may have perceived Soundgarden becoming more "commercial" or loosing their edge, this isn't really a fair argument. "Superunknown" was really the next logical step for Soundgarden to take as it saw the band mature and branch out artistically, without loosing its edge.
Guitarist Kim Thayil is one of rock's more underrated guitar players. Creating riffs that are heavy but melodic; he is equal parts George Harrison and Tony Iommi. Singer Chris Cornell, widely recognized as one of rock's great vocalists, could belt out the songs with pure, unadulterated emotion, without overdoing it, and leave a lasting impression. Ben Shepard (bass) and Matt Cameron (drums) provided an exciting and dynamic rhythm section that was several cuts above average (they also contributed to the songwriting as well).
The opening "Let Me Drown" sounds a bit like an updated version of Sabbath's "The Mob Rules," and gets the album off to a breakneck start. The subtle piano adds an interesting and unexpected touch. One of the album's big hits and a modern-rock radio staple, the infectious "My Wave" is heavily groove oriented and melodic. The gloomy "Fell on Black Days" is harrowing without indulging in self-pity. The album only gets bleaker with the sluggish "Mailman," as Cornell sings in almost a whimper "I know I'm headed for the bottom." The meaning of the hard-hitting title-track "Superunknown" is rather obscure, which adds a bit of mystery to the album without coming off as pretentious. The album takes a bit of a left-turn with the George Harrison-esque; Eastern flavored "Head Down," which is an interesting and captivating change of pace. The album's biggest hit and centerpiece "Black Hole Sun" stands as one of the most memorable songs (and videos) of the 1990s. Gloomy, but not hopeless and equal parts Sabbath and the Beatles, "Black Hole Sun" epitomizes the feeling of the disenchanted youth of the 1990s. "Spoonman," the song that introduced the band to the masses is based on a street performer, who performs with spoons (and plays them on this song). "Limo Wreck" sounds a bit like "Mailman," with its heavy plodding Sabbath riff. But the song truly shines when Cornell belts out the song's title, for a fully satisfying climax. "The Day I Tried to Live" depicts the sadness one feels when attempts to venture out of ones shell to find happiness are not fulfilled. "Kickstand" is a very short, but sweet, ballsy rocker. "Fresh Tendrils" is an above-average, by-the-numbers rocker, but too good to be labeled "filler." Probably the album's bleakest, most menacing song, "4th of July" grinds and slugs along, but is captivating and thus never tedious. The album throws the listener a curve-ball with violas and cellos and World-Beat trimmings with "Half." While the title of the closing track "Like Suicide" may lead one to believe it's just another mid-90s clichéd "woe-is-me" song, "Like Suicide" actually offers sympathy and understanding to someone battling depression. Over seven minutes in length and slow-paced, it would be easy for this song to get tiresome, but it doesn't.
Over 70 minutes in length, "Superunknown" is a long listen. Most albums of this length have a lot of filler, but "Superunknown" never suffers from this problem. "Superunknown" keeps the listener intrigued and interested all the way though. While many of the album's themes are dark and depressing, this album somehow isn't draining. Beneath the despair, there is hope.
I remember buying this album in the early summer of 1994, just as my tenure at Jr. High School ended. It was such a great time for music; Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Nirvana (Cobain had only recently died), Rage Against the Machine, Hole...it was an exciting time and years before the likes of Fred Durst, Linkin Park and Creed...
While Pearl Jam and Nirvana are given a lion's share of the glory, Soundgarden should also be remembered as one of the best bands from the 90s. While it has been, as of this writing, almost twelve years since this album's release (God, I'm old) it is still too early to determine Soundgarden's legacy. Hopefully, ten years from now, kids will discover "Superunknown," the way the kids of my generation discovered Sabbath in the 1990s.
on August 31, 2001
Whoa. If you're in a good, optimistic mood and you want to stay that way, don't listen to this album. You'll be running for the razors in no time. Fortunately, Soundgarden fans like myself recognize the unmistakable brilliance of Cornell's pitch-black lyrics, Thayil's guitaring genius, Shepherd's throbbing bass and Cameron's fantastically tight drumming. All are truly on show in this, their best album, a balance between the best elements of the faster, harder Badmotorfinger and the slightly more mellow Down On The Upside.
Forget the popular tracks "Black Hole Sun" and "Spoonman", the true highlights of this album include "Let Me Drown", "My Wave", "Superunknown", "Limo Wreck", "The Day I Tried To Live", "Fresh Tendrils" and the darkly brilliant "Head Down". Awash with cynical lyrics and complex, crashing guitars, there is no better way to experience the music of one of the best and most unique bands of the 90's.
on October 8, 1998
There are so many great tracks on this album, I couldn't even mention them all. One of the truly front to back albums ever made, Superunknown may only be rivaled in strength by Pearl Jam's Ten. Of course, the radio songs like Black Hole Sun, My Wave, and Spoonman, are great, but Soundgarden's real greatness is shown in some of its lesser known tracks. Shepard's distorted lyrics in Half are simply ominous, while Cornell provides the listener with dreadful pleasure in Limo Wreck, Fell on Black Days and The Day I tried to Live. Like Suicide, the final track, is perhaps the most disturbing song of all, and makes one wonder what goes through Chris Cornell's mind when he's all alone. But if there's one song to play over and again, its the self-flagellating Fresh Tendrils, which moves with a taut rage that only Soundgarden could deliver. If you haven't bought this album, you're missing out on a rare and powerful musical experience that comes around more seldom than does Halley's Comet.
on June 5, 2014
SHORT VERSION: This review relates to the Super Deluxe Edition. For personal reasons, all of my music listening is done on headphones. I also do not own a 5.1 system, so I do not review it here. My 2-star rating is based on the powerful but ultimately fatiguing sound on headphones. The DTX headphone mix is also quite poor. But if you do your listening mostly on speakers, or have a 5.1 system, you should make this review a 3-star or even 4-star, depending on how you feel about loudness and sound fidelity.
LONG VERSION (Rant):
First off, I want to express how important this album has been to me. I've had the original CD since 1996, and I think we can all agree on how wonderful it sounds. Punchy, Intense, and Lively. I can feel the way the drums fill the room space, the great low-end of the bass, and of course the utter power of Cornell's vocal chords. Granted, the guitars were slightly low, but when things got heavy they absolutely filled the space wonderfully, and Kim's riffs cut with the sharpness of a precision knife. The 1994 release was already an amazing piece of work from the start, and therefore required very little tampering. This was the first time I ever bought a reissue, having already owned the original CD. It was a difficult decision to make. And you certainly don't want to feel regretful after you've poured 100 bucks on a release you already own and love. But nevertheless I do feel a bit regretful.
And the essential reason for that is the album's remastering, which we will get to later.
But first, the good things: the packaging is really nice with good liner notes, although the manufacturing and handling left somewhat to be desired. Some pages have extra glue around the book's spine, and they don't open as much as other pages. there is a slight bend on the corners of the pages. And the most baffling thing, close to the CD sleeve, a splotch of dried glue with an entire thumb fingerprint (?!). But these are to me minor things which I can perfectly live with, because the sound is what I mostly care about.
The short animated videos that accompany the music are excellent, very simple, slow, and yet totally tasteful, unobtrusive and fully appropriate to the music.
But the remastered album does leave you with mixed feelings. For starters, I was immediately forced to adjust the volume knob down upon playback, because it is quite loud. This was shocking to me, because even back in 1996 this was one of the loudest albums I had, along with Evil Empire from Rage against the Machine. I have a vivid memory of always playing these albums at a lower volume than other albums I had purchased in 1994 and 95. I looked at my laptop's volume slider, and what seemed to be the most comfortable volume setting from the start was 16. For comparison, I usually listen to the 1994 CD on 28-33 on the same laptop. Even Daft Punk's RAM, which is quite the compressed album, is extremely pleasing to the ears, and never fatiguing. So I am not necessarily against the idea of using a limiter on a remastering job, it really needs to be judged on a case-by-case basis. But Superunknown is hard-hitting from the very start, which brings with it some good aspects and bad aspects.
On the good side, the limiting is not as destructive as some other remasters I had heard, like Nevermind, or Stooges. Of course, this is only a half-compliment, considering how horrible the situation has become in terms of loudness in the last 15 years.
As a result, the album deceptively feels powerful and commanding when you first start to hear the PCM stereo 24/96 version with fresh ears. You can hear some extra detail on the instruments, especially guitars, which are higher in the mix now. And you also have the impression of everything being "grander", as if all the instruments were more in your face, compared to a slight "distance" that you can feel between you and the band on the CD. But the drums, while they pound hard when the mix is not busy, are the first to be sacrificed on the most intense moments of each song. In fact, at those points, the whole mix turns somewhat messy, even slightly harsh, and more unidimensional; you lose some of the sense of directionality that was present on the CD release.
So yes, while at first you feel some interest and excitement due to the sheer impact and sound pressure, and the added density and thickness of the instruments, it is a short-lived sensation. By Mailman, the 4th track, I started feeling some dullness and during the 5th track, I felt it was better to take a few minutes' brake and let my ears rest for while, because I was feeling some fatigue, as if my eardrums had been pounded a bit too much from the sound pressure.
After the brake, I go back to black hole sun, and once again things sound initially thrilling, only to lead me to take another brake after another 4 songs. It was at this moment that I began to feel worried about my purchase.
I recently tested my hearing, and I still have a respectable 19 Khz of hearing, compared to kids half my age (I'm on my early thirties')there are teens who cannot hear past 15 Khz, and that's sad. My cans are more than respectable, 500$ Audio Technicas. My laptop is on the high-end side, and has reproduced many albums with perfectly good results. I checked my sound and mixer settings, everything is normal, and I check other albums to see if something had gone wrong, but all was normal. So, why is this record so loud? Obviously, Adam Kasper did not do this by himself. The band must have surely given their full approval of these remasters, which is all the more baffling and even frightening.
I think the problem might be that there is a HUGE discrepancy between what the fans and some artists consider to be the ultimate purpose of a remastering.
For artists, the original is fine, and the remaster is just to update the sound according to modern tastes. Kind of like refurbishing and renovating the Cathedral of Notre Dame into a hotel, because, hey, everyone would love to be able to stay at a hotel in the center of Paris, right? Plus, most artists are so sick of listening to themselves, that they rarely listen to their albums in a critical way once they go on sale, which is understandable.
But for fans, these recordings mean the world to us. It's all we have. A remaster would be the ultimate opportunity to transfer the original using state of the art analogue to digital converters, and to fix minor issues that could not be addressed at the time, due to time constraints or other problems. But I have never heard anyone complain about weak volume on the original 1994 CD. In this day and age, it is possible to achieve proper tone and balance on a mastering job without using the limiter. I would have been fine with a slight increase in volume, just to reign in some random peaks, but this is a bit too far for my taste. The purpose of a remaster should be to leave a carefully crafted work for posterity, not to make people feel fatigued and unable to hear the whole album in one sitting without periodically lowering the volume.
However, if you mainly use speakers, you might do much better than me. I have to do all of my music listening through headphones, which does force me to be more careful with my hearing. And some people will undoubtedly prefer this tougher, thicker version to the original CD, which I can understand. It does have impact. But too much impact, for too long.
Another problem with this reissue is that both the CD and Blu-Ray use the same mastering, and the same limiting. Considering most people have failed to spot the difference in blind tests, why duplicate things here? Shouldn't a mastering job make the most advantage of the medium? Considering how much more dynamic range 24/96 has over CD, doesn't it make more sense to have the limited version on the CD, so that you can enjoy it on the car, or on a noisy environment, and create a more dynamic version for the Blu-Ray, since the target audience are people with high-fidelity systems, who spend their hard-earned cash on high-resolution albums precisely because of the potential for added dynamic range? Is the band's hearing so compromised that 24/96 is already too much dynamic range, and they cannot hear the quiet parts well?
It seems clear to me that either the band or the record label have no idea of what is desired by the audience that buys blu-rays and digital high-resolution tracks. And it costs dearly to the audience.
The DTX mix is another baffling thing. It is by no means as what Adam Kasper said, that it is just like hearing the mix with the band in the studio. In fact, the experience is quite poor. The only great thing about is that, due to the separation between instruments, I can enjoy Cornell's voice by hearing a lot of details that usually get masked on the stereo mix. That's totally cool, but as a global experience it is quite disappointing, especially the guitars.
I will not comment on the 5.1 mix, as I have no surround system, but I have heard a lot of positive reactions across the web.
So, the final conclusion: to return the item, or not to return? After a lot of soul-searching, I decided to keep the reissue, on the basis that I liked the bonus tracks, the packaging, the animated video, the liner notes, and overall presentation. But all of these things are secondary to the music, and on that ground I cannot recommend this to other people in good faith, hence the 2-stars. The music quality is all right for non-critical listening, listening in cars, or less quiet environments, and it does pack a punch, with some musical elements pushed to the fore, compared to the 1994 CD. It is not absolutely terrible, and I am able to enjoy it in bursts of 4-5 songs, listening through headphones. But look at how much I paid for this reissue. It is not a trivial price. Anyone who buys this Super Deluxe issue is likely a long-time hardcore fan, who already owns the original album. IF you are such a fan, and you are not picky about loudness, go ahead and buy it. But as for me, this has left enough of a sour taste in my mouth to make me very weary of buying further reissues by Soundgarden. This is very likely the first and last reissue I buy from them, unless the current paradigm of mastering is drastically changed. And if you are just as dissatisfied as me, enough is enough, we have to make our voices heard once and for all. They know not what they do.
Thank you for putting up with this long rant.
on March 29, 2005
I don't know why, but I've been revisiting the early 90's grunge bands quite a lot here lately. I guess it's because with the rise of the experimental indie rock bands becoming more popular (which I've been very much enjoying), it's reminded me of the days when you could turn on the radio and actually hear something GOOD. But anyway, "Superunknown" is one of those albums that has stood the test of time, and then some. It is, quite simply, one of the best and most creative hard rock albums of all time.
Everything just really came together here. Maturing from the more straight-forward hard rock of previous releases, adding more texture, melody, and diversity, it is here that the band's sound truly reached its peak. Chris Cornell's soaring, bluesy vocals, Kim Thayil's sludgy guitar attack, and Matt Cameron's pounding drums all shine to their fullest.
At 70 minutes in length, this album never misses a step. From the energetic hard rock of "Let Me Drown" and the title track, to the hypnotic sludgy grooves of "Mailman" and "4th of July", this is an album that keeps you on your toes. It is also chock full of solid radio singles, which are still regular staples in rock radio today. "My Wave" and "Fell on Black Days" are just irresistably catchy, "Black Hole Sun" and "The Day I Tried to Live" are a bit softer, but still super-catchy, and "Spoonman", with its bizarre lyrics, super-infectious riff, and sweet drum solo, is nothing short of a classic.
The album wanders into somewhat bizarre territory, with "Fresh Tendrils", "Head Down", and "Half". These songs have somewhat unorthodox melodies, and may take a few listens to grow on you, but they're very cool. The slow, bluesy "Like Suicide" concludes the album, with about the finest finish you could ask for.
All in all, this is a perfect, and absolutely essential album. Any serious music fan, or just general lover of great rock and roll can't afford to be without it.
on June 3, 2014
The super deluxe version of Superunknown is a resounding "not bad", or maybe just ok. I suggest this only for the most die hard fans, as it mainly only has stuff that will only appeal to them. The remaster of Superunknown is a little more compressed than the original, though nowhere near as bad as anything by Rick Rubin. Matt's drums suffer the most, being squashed down a bit in the mix.
The B-sides are ok, nothing really to speak of other than the unruly "Kyle Petty, Son Of Richard", the video version of "Fell on Black Days" as well as it's demo (redubbed "Black Days III"), and the extra on the first disk, "She Likes Surprises".
The demos are just as you'd expect: yet to be realized versions of the songs you know and love. Still, there are some interesting surprises. "Let Me Drown" has a significantly funkier groove compared to the studio version, and sounds kinda cool. The demo of "Spoonman" (which originally appeared in the 1992 film Singles) is here and sounds very like someone made it in their kitchen on a lazy day. "Like Suicide" has a considerable different opening than the studio version and sounds even trippier and weirder.
The rehearsals are more or less the same, though it sounds awesome hearing the band play through "The Day I Tried To Live" for the first time. It's almost historical. There are a couple of other interesting nuggets: "Bing Bing Goes To Church" and "The Date I Tried To Leave", are both amusing tidbits of the band screwing around. "Ruff Riff Raff" is an instrumental that's sounds pretty awesome, though its a shame there are no vocals.
All in all it's not bad, pick it up if you consider yourself a diehard Soundgarden fan. If not, not don't bother. I am disappointed that there aren't any studio outtakes or any more unheard of goodies like "Ruff Riff Raff".
on October 13, 2000
Where can you begin to review such a wonderfully depressing album? Chris Cornell has never sounded more confident in his vocal abilities and the band as a whole has never sounded so together. The writing shows how the band hit their peak with songs like "Limo Wreck" and "Fell on Black Days". This album blew away all the sterotypes of the "grunge" scene and allowed Soundgarden to move to the forefront of the rock scene at least for a little while. A magnificent achievement in rock music that deserves the title "instant classic".
on December 1, 2003
"Superunknown" is Soundgarden's full-blown masterpiece. Picking highlights is difficult, because every single track is a gem in its own right, giving this album a consistency that is seldom found on any album of any genre. My personal favourite is the sludge-grunge of "Mailman", which showcases Chris Cornell's unique vocals at their very best. But there are plenty more stunners here, from the self-deprecation of "Fell on Black Days", the eerie psychedelia of "Black Hole Sun", to the apocalyptic "4th of July". Every other song has its merits too, to the point where the album is almost flawless.
Kim Thayil's riffs are brilliant on Superunknown and background the passionate, anguished wails of Cornell to great effect. The vocals and instrumentation here are impeccable, as are the cryptic lyrics, which deal with depression, misanthropy, nihilism and darkness in it's myriad forms, with an intellectual sensibility that is rarely found on modern rock records.
The album closes with the haunting ballad "Like Suicide", which fits nicely with the dark theme maintained throughout the album. This album is one of my personal all-time favourites, and is certainly recommended to fans of the Seattle grunge sound.
Note : some versions of Superunknown come with the bonus track "She Likes Surprises", which is worth seeking.