Truth be told, when Soundgarden officially disbanded in 1997 this author was heartbroken. Being fourteen at the time, and barely getting over the demise of Kurt Cobain and the complete unraveling of Nirvana that came after his death in 1994, it was understandable. Never in a million years did I ever think that Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron, and Ben Shepherd would ever reunite as the entity known to all as Soundgarden. When news came out in 2010 that Soundgarden would be reuniting it was hard not to think that maybe hell had literally frozen over.
Here was a band that didn’t part in the best of ways, and now they were willing to give the old band another chance to live? It was unbelievable. It has been sixteen years since the release of their last album, ‘Down On The Upside’, so when fans heard that a new one was coming out – especially after guitarist Kim Thayil told the press that their new album would basically be picking up where they left off with ‘Down On The Upside’ – needless to say, we were a little exhilarated.
Soundgarden’s new album, aptly titled ‘King Animal’, made its official release on November 12th on vinyl, CD, and digital download. So is ‘King Animal’ worth the sixteen year wait? You bet! The first single from Soundgarden’s new album, “Been Away Too Long”, is a powerful and tasty mix of swirling and chugging guitars from Kim Thayil and Chris Cornell, with the awesome bottom end power of bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron. And Cornell’s voice is like a finely aged Bourbon that soothes the ears and satisfies the mind with ominous lines like; “You can walk a million miles and get nowhere” and “This place has a special kind of falling apart, Like they put the whole thing together in the dark”, that make you feel like there is an honesty that hasn’t been felt in music in a very long time.
Soundgarden’s Been Away Too Long
As ‘King Animal’ rolls along from one track to the next you begin to feel like you’re reuniting with an old friend you haven’t seen in ages. You feel like your world is finally complete because you didn’t know what you were missing until they showed up in your life again to give you something you didn’t realize you needed. To give you something new that felt like a well worn pair of shoes that fit just right.
Take for instance the track entitled “Blood On The Valley Floor”, that starts with Thayil’s signature swirling-wailing guitar riff that rolls right into one of the funkiest bass and drum sounds ever crafted by the band. Your ears quickly feel like they’ve been captured and made sweet love to as they let you sit back and feel the vibes roll through your entire body as Cornell’s vocals sweetly kiss your soul with heart felt lyrics like; “Mountains all around, Altogether we stumble, Eleven million clowns, Every one with a razor out.”
It has indeed been far too long since Soundgarden released an album. And ‘King Animal’ is most definitely worth the sixteen year wait. Tracks like “Bones Of Birds” chime back to the old sounds of Soundgarden, while tracks like “Rowing” let you in on what the future holds for the members of Soundgarden and their loyal fan base.
If you’re a hardcore fan of Soundgarden, and you haven’t gotten yourself a copy of ‘King Animal’ yet, you might become ashamed of yourself for not picking up a copy sooner. And if by chance you haven’t heard of Soundgarden before, well this is a great album to introduce yourself to a true talented band. Grunge isn’t dead, it just took an extend nap and now the sound is alive and well.
Written by Terrence Cain
OurVinyl | Contributor