Soundgarden's last gasp produced a classic rock album, that fits both as the natural progression of the band's sound, and as a standalone rock album that would attract a new audience. Down on the Upside is Soundgarden's most mature album and sees them make the final move away from their grunge roots.
What first strikes the listener, is the way the sound had been expanded from Superunknown, into a grander, more apocalyptic sonic landscape. Gone are most of the sludgy guitars and the chaos of their earlier days, and on the opener "Pretty Noose", the climactic tone is set. Slow mover "Rhinosaur" breaks spontaneously into a torrent of guitar soloing and madness - an indication that the band still have the capacity to surprise.
Where Soundgarden really soar though, are on the slow burning epics. "Blow up the Outside Would", the keystone to the album's first half, builds throughout to the grand wailing chorus, and stands tall amongst the rest of the album. Likewise, "tighter and tighter" with its monumental guitar solo (clearly inspired by previous efforts "4th of July" and "Limo Wreck") and its ear crushing finale, is a bombastic last word, resonating vividly amongst the playful and the obscure album second half.
Down on the Upside winds down from this point on and ends leaving you with a sense of completion, as the band's last breath of life roars out of your stereo. It is an inspirational and rewarding listen, from artists who rarely achieved less, and is a lasting tribute to their creativity and their willingness to push the boundaries of Grunge and Alternative Rock.