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on September 4, 2003
Before the team of Chris Cornell (vocals), Kim Thayil (lead guitar), Ben Shepard (bass), and Matt Cameron (drums) made their biggest commercial breakthrough in the classic Superunknown, they released perhaps one of the hardest, rawest, most metallic records out of Seattle. That album is Badmotorfinger, released in 1991.
Badmotorfinger is perhaps Soundgarden at their prime--a tumultous, pummeling titan equal parts Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, with a psychedelic metal tinge. The punky tendencies of the band's earlier material are not present here, except in the two-minute long Face Pollution and Drawing Flies. Most of the songs are 4 minutes or longer, and the band shines in this epic style. Cornell shreds his voice with some of the most impressive wails this side of Robert Plant, Thayil unleashes some suprisingly technical riffs (Rusty Cage is just insane!), and the rhythm duo of Shepard and Cameron is fast, tight, and focused. Odd time signatures are employed to full effect (ex. Outshined, Jesus Christ Pose). I love how the band was experimenting with new ideas, such as horns.
There is not a spot of filler anywhere on the album, at least not to my ear. Everything is excellent, though I'd have to single out the crushing epic Slaves And Bulldozers, the fast-riffing Drawing Flies, and the rolling thunder of Room A Thousand Years Wide as faves.
This is Soundgarden unfiltered--people who love the band for Black Hole Sun probably won't immediately like this harder and less commercial Soundgarden. However, it is every bit the equal of the masterful Superunknown. As good as the other records of 1991 were--Ten, Nevermind, Blood Sugar Sex Magik--Badmotorfinger simply "outshines" them all. Highly reccommended.
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VINE VOICEon August 10, 2002
This whole album is exceptional, but you have to really like heavy, grinding rock to appreciate it the whole way through. Soundgarden's breakthrough, "Badmotorfinger," is an hour's worth of some of the heaviest music to explode out of Seattle in the early 1990s. When it began, Soundgarden was hungry, musically brash and fluent at hardcore grunge riffs, speed metal and even fast punk. Like many of its Seattle contemporaries, Soundgarden had integrity, a shield that kept the crassness of the music industry biz at bay. The band stood above hype and overwrought marketing to create tunes like "Rusty Cage," "Outshined" and "Jesus Christ Pose," well-known and vintage Seattle rock from the early '90s. "Outshined" might outshine them all, a dark, chugging song that conveys singer Chris Cornell's bleak outlook of making it big. It's a big, loud, guitar-driven rock song with screaming vocals, but also contains soft vocals at certain interludes to give the song an unexpected melodic tone.

The comparison of Led Zeppelin + Black Sabbath = Soundgarden is pretty accurate. Cornell has a Robert Plant-like voice in terms of range and depth, but it's shaded darker and comes off as more brooding. As hard as these guys were on their early albums, the riffs were complex enough to stand out from the headbanging crowd, while Cornell added his own melodic muse to the mix, making for a very interesting band. This album is filled with epic grunge/metal songs built to last. The dirge riffs of "Slaves and Bulldozers" go on for seven minutes, while Cornell sings like a man possessed -- God only knows how he hits those high notes. Like Zeppelin, these guys weren't afraid to stretch out their songs. Future Soundgarden CDs would incorporate lighter, more melodic elements into the picture, but the monochromatic "Badmotorfinger" contains none of that. More typical here is repetative riffing, as heard on the awesome "Jesus Christ Pose," a railing tune against glittery, force-fed religion, similar in message to the much more tame "Wooden Jesus," another Cornell-penned tune heard on Temple of the Dog. Another huge tune from this CD, one sometimes heard on the radio if you're lucky, is "Searching with my Good Eye Closed," a mid-tempo rocker that blends heavy riffage and Cornell's smooth singing -- in this case distorted with a layer of sheen for a cool effect. He also screams wildly in the song.

As good as it was at drawn-out epics, Soundgarden could also be superstar punk rockers at the drop of a dime; listen to the raging "Face Pollution" and Who-like riffs on "Drawing Flies." The versatility of this band was demonstrated more noticeably on future records, but Soundgarden also does a pretty good job of varying its sound on this one, though casual listeners might disagree. Because of its musical versatility and talent, Soundgarden were a hard band to categorize. Cornell has a wide vocal range, Ben Shepherd played a throbbing base, Kim Thayil is a very diverse guitar player and Matt Cameron, now of Pearl Jam, is as good as rock drummers get. Everyone in this band played a bit of everything, and each contributed to the writing (like in Pearl Jam).

Appropriately, "Badmotorfinger" ends with two long, grungy songs that Soundgarden so thrived on during this era. Overall, it's easy to see why so many people were captivated with this band's music in the early '90s -- and why these sounds helped start a new trend in music. Hundreds of bands have tried to emulate certain elements of Soundgarden's sound in the studio, but it's hopeless because the nucleus of Chris, Kim, Ben and Matt was a one in a million shot. They were trendsetters who had ideas, a vision and integrity. Plus, they knew when to quit when the time was right, unlike so many other bands who keep playing only for money and continued fame.
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on April 25, 2000
This is Soundgarden at their peak -- it's Superunknown minus the pop sheen. Cornell's range is twisted to superhuman heights. Thayil, as usual, comes up with some awesome colors and riffs. Ben and Matt lock-in and ride a groove like a freight train.
The album definitely has a particular "sound" to it that underscores every song: It is aggressive, heavy and raw, and yet it is also refined, complex and cerebral. Cornell's lyrics are never simply sung, but rather delivered like the gospel of hard rock.
Jesus Christ Pose is perhaps the best single performance of the decade by a four-piece rock band. Searching With My Good Eye Closed sounds like a muscled up renovation of Into the Void. Johnny Cash covered Rusty Cage which is about all that needs to be said about that song.
There are several other classics on the album. If you haven't heard this album, you can't fully appreciate Soundgarden's genius.
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on April 16, 2008
How they got this down on tape is a mystery.

Really, people, it's a crazed maniac on the loose -- with a roaring chain saw -- and no escape in sight.

But, let me settle down a bit and concentrate -- realistically -- on one aspect of this work that must be known: This has got to be the greatest end to end, album length, vocal performance ever recorded. After what Chris Cornell put into these vocals it's a wonder that he was able to ever speak again -- let alone record more albums.

It's one of those special albums that come around all too rarely.
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on July 30, 2005
Badmotorfinger (1991.), Soundgarden's third studio album

Soundgarden were one of the great rock acts of the 1990's, achieving widespread popularity by the middle of the decade with the release of the multiplatinum-selling album, 'Superunknown'. However, the reality is that Soundgarden had been around a great deal longer than most people realised, originally forming in the mid-1980's. They were one of the original Seattle bands who started the whole grunge rock concept which would become mainstream in the early 90's. 'Badmotorfinger', Soundgardens' third studio album, released in 1991 was the first big break for the band as it was their first release under a major label, A&M records and what a major label debut it was .....

'Badmotorfinger' to put it simply is one of the heaviest albums I own in my collection. Before I bought this album, the only Soundgarden record that I owned was 'Superunknown' and it was one of my favourite albums. To put things in context, I think that 'Badmotorfinger' is BETTER than 'Superunknown', showing really how masterful this album is. This is Soundgarden at their heaviest or even more, it is grunge at its heaviest. With this album, the band combine Led Zeppelin-like sounds with the powerful, sludgy riffs of 70's Black Sabbath to come up with something amazing. The album is dark, uncompromising and angry for the most part and is the perfect thing to listen to if you've had a tense or bad day! This is Soundgarden at their most aggressive and raw - listening to Chris Cornell's screams in some of the songs shows this clearly as does Kim Thayil's powerful riffing right the way through the album. If your expecting the feel of 'Superunknown' with this album I would prepare to be a little disappointed as 'Badmotorfinger' is less comercial, maybe less lyrical and more melodic but is certainly far, far heavier. All in all, it is another one of the finest efforts from the alternative-rock grunge era and is one of the top albums of that exceptional music year, 1991.

This monster of an album begins with 'Rusty Cage', a great opener which is more a heavy metal showcase than anything, with powerful bass-lines and furious riffing. The following track is one hell of a song, 'Outshined' is one of the best rock songs of the 1990's. The guitar work is really atmospheric and chilling, coupled with a killer chorus. 'Slaves and Bulldozers' is the epic of the album, rolling in at 7 minutes. Chris Cornell vents his anger in this one, howling at a level that just doesn't seem humanely possible. The bassline played by Ben Shepherd on this song is great and the song has a very dark, Sabbath-like feel to it overall. 'Jesus Christ Pose' is a great track which a clever but complex beginning with some great drumming from Matt Cameron. Next up is 'Face Pollution', a short angst filled rocker with plenty of pacy riffs. Following this is 'Sometimes', another awesome song with a great climatic chorus. The most unusual track on the album has to go to 'Searching With My Good Eye Closed', which has a warped but amusing start where Chris Cornell does a voice over - it blends into a very atmospheric track. After this track fades out, 'Room A Thousand Years Wide' blasts in with some great riffs and some amazing vocals from Cornell and also enter the saxophones which close out the song! 'Mind Riot' is the most poetic song on the album cemented with lusicous riffs. After this is another short song, 'Drawing Flies', fast and furious (what did I say about this album!) with an interesting integration of trumpets at the end. 'Holy Water' follows and this is one of the album's best. Pounding drumming ensues with some entrancing but hard riffs; this song is what Soundgarden is all about. 'New Damage' is a slower, very dark song which is a phenominal album closer with Kim Thayil jamming out some more sludgy Sabbathesque riffs over some rather depressing lyrics from Chris Cornell.

'Badmotorfinger' is a juggernaut of the some of the best heavy metal ever. Like I've said above, this album is REALLY heavy but is also very melodic and is never short of a dull moment (although it has plenty of dark ones!). This in my opinion is Soundgarden at their very highest peak (and is also lead singer Chris Cornell's greatest triumph on the vocals) and is a must buy for any fan of alterantive grunge rock or heavy metal in general.
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on January 24, 2010
Rather than reviewing just Badmotorfinger, I'm going to kill two stones with one bird (just like Chuck Norris) and review both Badmotorfinger and the Somms Ep.
Badmotorfinger (10/10):
Soundgarden's third album is one of Soundgarden's grungiest albums that placed Soundgarden with the Big Four of Grunge along side Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains. And it's for that reason that Soundgarden's album was one of the most underrated grunge albums during the onslaught of Nirvana. Pearl Jam was the only one who made it out of the 90's alive while the others fell apart. Nirvana's album, Nevermind, was added into the National Recording Registry, and Alice In Chains went on to get all of the girls. But Soundgarden was the last Grunge band to fall apart. And even today it is overlooked in favor of Ten, Dirt, and Nevermind. But even so, Badmotorfinger is and always will be a testament to Seattle's unsung heroes.
At the Peak of Grunge, the best tracks are "Rusty Cage" (which I heard and discovered Soundgarden), "Outshined", and "Jesus Christ Pose", a purposly forgotten song shunned by MTV because of it's video, which had a very good meaning. Some people accused the latter song of being Anti-Christian, but it's quite the opposite, it talks about people who exploit the image of Jesus on the cross for personal gain. Some of the other honorable mentions include "Mind Riot", which is a very good alternative rock song, and "Face Pollution" for its punkish attack. "Room a Thousand Years Wide" is a good song with a sudden screaming opening, and "Searching With My Good Eye Closed" has a kind of cryptic opening that reminds me of "665" and "667" from their debut album, Ultramega OK. The entire album seems to a dedicated mix of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin with a little Butthole Surfers and punk thrown in. The album is far more focused than their first two albums thanks to their (at the time) newly recruited bassist, Ben Shepherd. The album is worth buying without the Somms Ep if you just want the basic feel of Soundgarden.
Satanocillatemymetallicsonatas EP (9/10):
The Ep is good for several reasons:
1)"Into the Void (Sealth)" is a cover of Black Sabbath's Into the Void with lyrics written from Chief Sealth/Seattle's infamous speech (How can you buy or sell the sky/Or the warmth of the land it's strange to us/We don't own the freshness of the air/Or the sparkle of the water/How can you buy them from us/The white man doesn't understand our ways/For he's a stranger who comes in the night/And takes from the land just what he needs). The lyrics deal with "the white man" destroying and polluting the earth (which kinda fits in with the original Black Sabbath meaning). This is a grungified cover that runs smooth and dirty as you please. It's far more heavy than the original version and Chris Cornell's voice sounds a little like Ozzy's. Got a Grammy nomination, too.
2)"Girl U Want" is a cover of Devo's song that is surprisingly well made enough to have Devo themselves use the Soundgarden version as a template to re-record the song. The song is pop fuzed with Soundgarden's heavy grunge sound.
3)"Stray Cat Blues" is a cover of a Rolling Stone song. The song is again a older sound merged with Soundgarden's heavy grunge. This song and the two mentioned above should be enough to buy this Ep with Badmotorfinger.
The last two songs is a Soundgarden original titled "She's A Politician" which is a valuble b-side that can be found easier than the rest of the catelog of Soundgarden B-sides, and a live version of "Slaves and Bulldozers" that clocks in at a little over eight and a half minutes. I'm not really one for live versions of any songs so I can't give an opinion on this song. "She's A Politician" is a short and sweet grunge song that moves at a good speed.
Now if you want a good grunge album with a collectable 2nd disk with promising b-sides, than go for it. This 2 disc set is some of Soundgarden's best songs. Its grunge at it's finest!!!
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on March 16, 2002
I defintely recommend this album! This was Soundgardens' breakthrough album in many cases throughout the world, and was the follow-up to the brilliant if quite unfocused riffage of Louder Than Love. Badmotorfinger is far more focused in its songwriting and has a sharp, crisp production which allows the drums to snap, the bass to thud, the guitars to crunch and of course, to allow Chris Cornells powerful roaring vocals to cut through the lot like a hot knife through butter.
The album starts off with the tight, stinging intro riff to 'Rusty Cage', a thoroughly excellent and anthemic rock song with a chorus that's irrisitable not to shout along to ("I'm going to break my rusty cage and run", indeed). When the song gives way near the end to a jagged and angular outro section, you begin to realise you're witnessing creativity of the highest order, especially from a so-called 'grunge' act!
This is followed up by the excellent single "Outshined" featuring a Led Zeppelin-esque riff in 7/4 time and another anthemic chorus. "Outshined" is packed full of interesting melodic hooklines and hard rock attitude, you simply can't help but bang your head along.
Tempos are slowed down for the next song, the brooding "Slaves And Bulldozers" in which Chris Cornell does his best Robert Plant impressions during the chorus. Opening up with Ben Shepherds slow-burning bassline, it's packed with jagged, angular guitars and it's nowhere near as anthemic as the previous two songs, although it has moments of insane creativity (such as Kim Thayils vastly atonal guitar solo). Clocking in at 6+ minutes, Soundgarden played this in their sets well up until their demise.
This was also the case with the next track, an all-time classic of the bands' called "Jesus Christ Pose". A song written by all members of the band, it features some sterling drum work from Matt Cameron which never wavers from its pounding beat throughout while Kim Thayil and Ben Shepherd thrash out the songs blinding grunge riff. This is the band on excellent form, and a song which even the biggest Soundgarden fanatic would find difficult to get bored of.
The short, but extremely complex "Face Pollution" is up next, and while the lyrics leave a lot to be desired the music contains so many twists and turns that by the end of its two and half minutes you feel a bit dizzy. That doesn't mean that it's not suited for banging your head to, in fact it's completely ideal! But closer inspection to this song explains that Soundgarden were more creative than most of their peers, especially the pounding middle section before Cornell screams the title over and over again through a pounding 5/4 riff.
Ben Shepherds songwriting gets a showcase on the fine rock song "Somewhere", which doesn't feature the greatest lyrics in the world (screamed over the top of the intro amusingly by Cornell) but musically it's hardly simplistic despite the fact that it sounds simple without closer observation. Catchy and melodic, with some rather deft and quick time signature changes and a bizarre ending which seems to have no relation to the rest of the song whatsoever, this is a great song which shouldn't be overlooked.
"Searching With My Good Eye Closed" brings the band back to more traditional laid-back grunge rock in the main body of the song, after a totally weird introduction with wailing guitars and a voice which sounds like it comes from a childs toy, a fine song if not the highlight of the album. More traditional grunge rock is followed up in the form of "Room A Thousand Years Wide", one of the few songs to feature lyrics not written by Cornell, with music written by Matt Cameron. "Mind Riot" deviates from the rest of the albums distorted riffage to give the listener a break with its chiming, Indian-sounding guitars and anthemic chorus, definitely a highlight of the album and shows a more psychedelic direction that the band would bring to fruition on its next album Superunknown. "Drawing Flies" is another fairly short track with disjointed sections that seem like they never work but actually do, and features more music composition from Matt Cameron. The last two tracks are absolutely amazing, the rifftastic "Holy Water" with its excellent lyrics and anthemic chorus sounding like it was the inspiration for Silverchairs song "Slave" from their Freak Show album. The album closes with "New Damage" which features more creative riffery, alongside such lyrics as "the wreck is going down/get out before you drown". Well, I can safely say this album is far from a wreck and everyone should drown in the sonic textures of this album. Admittedly, it may not be everyones cup of tea but if you like heavy guitars shot through with a sense of melody and a dash of prog riffery, you'll love this album. It's let down by one or two dull moments, such as "Room A Thousand Years Wide", but features so much creativity it makes this album essential! Buy it immediately!
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on April 1, 2003
soundgarden are one of the pinnacle bands of the nineties and this album is one amazing trip. an album that is one of the heaviest, noisy gems to sludge its way out of seattle. part sabbath and part zepplin lead to amazing riffs from my least favorite soundgarden member in kim thayil. matt cameron, now in pearl jam, is always a monster drummer especially on songs like jesus christ pose. just listen to the drums. amazing. ben shepard is one amazing grooving bass player. songs like slaves and bulldozers and room 1,000 years wide are where he shines (and two of my favorite songs)
chris cornell's voice is an instrument and he pushes his voice to the limit, sometimes screaming and wailing while other times holding back to let the music do the talking. there are many influences here from metal (in songs like searching with my good eye closed) and punk (in songs like face pollution and drawing flies) the music is complex and can be epic or can be simple. we all know songs like outshined and rusty cage but there is so much more to this album. soundgarden were unique and this album is diverse and briliant. words never truly cpature the greatness. some albums must be felt in order to experience the greatness. this is such an album.
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on February 11, 2014
Hearing this album on vinyl through great speakers blew my mind, it's like hearing it for the first time. Cornell's voice is unmatched in the world of rock and I believe this album is evidence a such. BUY THIS ALBUM! If you love Soundgarden or just like them, you have to admit they are a fleeting god in the rock world, appreciate them while you can.
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on April 15, 2008
When the year 1991 hit, grunge music exploded onto the mainstream with Nirvana's Nevermind, creating a brand new genre of rock music for youth to rock out to and relate to. Pearl Jam released its debut Ten, which also had everyone buzzing about the sudden popularity of these once underground rock bands. But what is forgotten about is Soundgarden and their smash record, Badmotorfinger. This album in my opinion is the most sophisticated, multi-layered piece of rock music in the grunge catalog, and maybe even rock music in general. Although Nevermind and Ten are superb albums, Soundgarden seems to explore another set of elements that none of the other major grunge groups ever encountered. This Seattle band made itself a major player on the music scene from then on as this dense, complex yet rocking album made Soundgarden into one outstanding band.
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