SOUNDGARDEN – King Animal

Soundgarden - King AnimalGrunge. Just that word leaves a sour taste in my mouth. As a rock fan of the 70’s and 80’s, when Kurt Cobain came whining in with his colleagues in Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden in the 90’s, I really tried to give them a chance because I really like to find out about new music and different kinds of music, but I just couldn’t stand the depressive, gloomy, dark and miserable sounds and their lyrics about how shitty life was. To this day, I have a problem with grunge, but I’m still a guy who likes to give any band a go, I mean, I have changed during the years and I guess musicians do as well. In the last 10 years or so, there has been a big reunion trend going on, especially with melodic hard rock from the 80’s and early 90’s, but in the last few years, the 90’s grunge bands jumped on that wagon as well and as I found both Alice In Chains’ reunion album Black Gives Way To Blue and Pearl Jam’s latest studio effort Backspacer to be nothing but brilliant, I really didn’t see any reason for me not to see if Soundgarden could come up with something cool too, now that they had reunited.

When it comes to Soundgarden there wasn’t that much of their old stuff that I appreciate one bit, give or take the odd song here and there. There were some songs off of their mega success Superunknown that I liked, but that’s it. So, to give their new album a fair chance, I had to listen to it with an an open mind and not start thinking about what I think of the band in general. That sure made me feel more at ease and what I found was, at least in my opinion, a band that had developed their music and style in the right direction. When I had listened to the album once, I really liked what I heard and I had to give it another spin just to see if what I felt would stick. And it did.  Soundgarden has made one great album here, folks. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t find one bad track here.

First single and the opening track “Been Away For Too Long” is great, more hard rock than grunge, “Non State Actor” is a 70’s based hard rock groover, “By Crooked Steps” is a great track with some funky grooves and “A 1000 Days Before” has a psychedelic feel to it that makes it sound almost Beatles-esque. With its Black Sabbath riffing and brilliant hooks “Blood On The Valley Floor” is one of the album’s finest moments, we also get a dark and heavy ballad all done Soundgarden style in “Bones Of Birds” and “Attrition” we get a brilliant and catchy tune that is just hard rock, no more, no less. The variation on this album is what gets me the most, apart from the fact that I think that the band’s song writing has improved a hell of a lot since the 90’s and it keeps on going in that direction. “Halfway There” is a stunning acoustic based pop song, “Worse Dreams” has a catchy groove that I truly love and “Eyelid’s Mouth” is just awesome, it’s like Black Sabbath with a major groove.

There might be a filler or two on here and the demo version of some of the songs that follow with the de luxe edition feels like a throw away, but other than that, Soundgarden has made one brilliant come back album. It’s more easy listening than usual and some people would maybe use the word “commercial” on some of the tracks on here, but who cares when the songs are this good.  Also, the production is really fat and in your face and Chris Cornell is still one of the best vocalists out there and on this album he has cut back on the screaming which he overdid on the earlier Soundgarden albums and that makes it more a comfortable listen. I dare all grunge haters out there to give this one a chance because if I could do it and like it, then anyone can.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist

01. Been Away Too Long
02. Non-State Actor
03. By Crooked Steps
04. A Thousand Days Before
05. Blood On The Valley Floor
06. Bones of Birds
07. Taree
08. Attrition
09. Black Saturday
10. Halfway There
11. Worse Dreams
12. Eyelid’s Mouth
13. Rowing
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