Yes, we covered this album twice, the other review can be found here. With seminal albums like this, sometimes you have to let many voices be heard!
It has been a long 16 year wait for fans of the collective Chris Cornell (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Kim Thayil (lead guitar), Matt Cameron (drums) and Ben Shephard (bass) as Seattle based Soundgarden return with their sixth studio album, ‘King Animal’.
Many fans of their earlier album releases could be somewhat anxious to hear the album after such a long period between releases and the fractious relationship the band had previously leading to their break-up in 1997. However these fans have nothing to fear, the band seamlessly continue from where they left off and may pick up a new generation of followers.
Soundgarden have always had a feeling of almost a jamming session running through their iconic grunge and alternative rock sound and this features throughout the album with band members working collectively together honing down on the sound they specifically wanted. This delivers a very professional sounding collaboration, perhaps the slight difference to previous releases. This may have come about from the development and maturity of each band member, perhaps a kind way of saying they’re getting older. Nevertheless is this a criticism as these old guys sure know how to rock!
The album begins with the track ‘Been Away Too Long’ which tears through your speakers with a crunchy guitar riff backed with heavy bass and great drumming all topped with Cornell’s unique vocals. As the track develops you can not help but at least nod your head and tap your feet as you feel compelled to rock out with the band. The lyrics to this first album track to be released as a single are based around the feeling Cornell felt when returning back to his home town in Seattle and feeling out of place back in Seattle but this track is certainly not out of place with the album as every track rolls into the next with great rocking riffs.
Next up come tracks ‘Non-State Actor’, ‘By Crooked Steps’ and ‘A Thousand Days Before’ each having their very own great guitar riff throughout built around the solid bass line and drums behind it supporting the great rock and grunge sound Soundgarden do so well. The track ‘A Thousand Days Before’ is one track that stands out particularly highlighting the bands maturity as it includes further sounds and influences with the drumming similar to that you may hear in Africa and the background droning of a sitar can be heard, all fitting together perfectly as the tempo changes with the track developing.
Soundgarden’s Eyelids Mouth
The next three tracks ‘Blood on the Valley Floor’, ‘Bones of Birds’ and ‘Taree’ take the album and its listeners to next stage of its journey with a more mellow sound. Mellow being used slightly loosely however, as all three still of course have the elements of grunge rock. The track ‘Taree’ starts in a Metallica-esque way with rolling guitar riff followed by bass and then vocals leading up to the track’s chorus and leading riff with including a face melting guitar solo and great rhythm from the whole band.
The album continues in this way rocking you throughout. As you work your way down the track listing another track worth highlighting is ‘Worse Dreams’. This slowly fades in with whirling guitar sounds and a finger tapping riff but then is over shadowed by the heavy bass line accompanied with the rim shot of the drummer giving the track a slightly spooky, Halloween feel before hitting the triumphant chorus with the guitar again taking the foreground. The track builds up brilliantly and the listener after a few listens will be now doubt screaming along to the lyrics with Cornell.
It has been a long wait for Soundgarden fans but as the famous saying goes, ‘great music comes to those who wait for the band to get back together 16 years later’ or something along those lines – and in this case it is very true. Not many people will be disappointed with this effort and many will now be demanding more from their old flame. The album is greatly structured and balanced with their own sound but they’re also not afraid to integrate new sounds with it. If you are a Soundgarden fan then you need this album, even if you are not you should give this album a try!
Written by Sean Simmonds-Barker
OurVinyl | Contributor