- Audio CD (12 Nov. 2012)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Mercury
- ASIN: B00A0I11ZU
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 89,300 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Digital Booklet: King Animal
Digital Booklet: King Animal
Of all the bands emerging in a blur of rain, greasy hair and plaid from the Pacific Northwest during the early- to mid-90s, Soundgarden have arguably been the most poorly served by posterity.
Kurt Cobain sealed Nirvana’s legend with a shotgun blast, while the likes of Mudhoney kept their underground credibility intact by lying relatively low. Soundgarden, though, never seemed to achieve the critical acclaim or cultural cachet of their peers.
But from the off, King Animal sounds as if it’s written by a band with a point to prove: “I’ve been away for too long / Though I never really wanted to stay.” This pertinent line from Been Away Too Long might speak volumes about Chris Cornell’s attitude to their return, and their initial demise; and, perhaps, the less-than-favourable reaction to Audioslave or his own solo material.
Musically, Been Away Too Long is a step up to the plate, too – there’s a rhythmic kinship with 1994 album Superunknown’s My Wave, but there’s a lot more going on. Cornell’s ever-distinctive voice is more streamlined, and there’s some high-end guitar fiddling over the booming toms before a discordant, clanging breakdown. It makes for an exciting taste of what is to come.
Soundgarden have always possessed a real ability to combine darkness with immense grooves, as heard clearly on the sinuous Taree; and it’s this that lifted them above their more thrashy, punk rock bar band peers. The 13 sturdy tracks of King Animal carry this compositional attitude into the 21st century.
King Animal undeniably draws its strength from the band’s accessible Superunknown era, but also takes Soundgarden somewhere fresh. A Thousand Days Before is rolling and melodic, and Blood on the Valley Floor almost sensual.
The overall theme is that of dark Americana, with Poe-recalling imagery and a sense of the political in lyrics about “bullets and missiles” in the grinding Non-State Actor or the negative pop chorus of Bones of Birds: “Too weak to survive.”
Soundgarden occupy a curious place in 2012, adrift of the EDM-meets-nu-metal rock mainstream. Perhaps that’s how it should be, though: they’re a stadium band yet still outsiders, singing in and of the rain.
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Top Customer Reviews
Their sound has slightly evolved but the core of Soundgarden is still there, the time signatures, nutty riffs and wailing guitars (needs more of this from Kim).
On the first few listens you might feel alienated but the more you listen the more it grows on you (classic Soundgarden) and for only a tenner you shouldn't be disappointed.
Chris has gotten on a bit so his voice isn't what it used to be (to be expected, but don't let this put you off)
I'd also mention that Matt out did himself on the drums in this album, I would argue it's some of his best work.
Overall great purchase, I hope they can release another album because there are very few bands that can come back together after nearly 2 decades, pushing 50, and still out perform and songwrite most bands today.
Fittingly the album starts with "Been Away too Long" which has a trademark Chris Cornell vocal that twists it way over the music as he uses his powerful range to carry the song on which features a typical powerful Kim Thayil riff, it also features a nice bass breakdown at about the 2.20 mark. While Soundgarden have always been associated with grunge it's fair to say that their origins always lay with Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin as can be heard in hard hitting numbers "Non-State Actor" and "Blood On The Valley Floor" which are both riff heavy.
As well as the heavier numbers there is a few laid back songs on "King Animal" such as "Halfway There" which wouldn't have sounded out of place on "Down On The Upside". There is the ramshackle of closing track "Rowing" which has more than a hint of Steve Earle about it. It has to be said that Matt Cameron's drumming is a superb as ever.
It would have been easy for Soundgarden not to release a new album and to continue to live on their superb back catalogue but with album number 6 "King Animal" Soundgarden sound as relevant and as important as they ever did. It's great to have them back!
The first listen was a little underwhelming as only the first track really appealed to me. However, like another reviewer has said it can take a number of listens to get into some of Soundgarden's later material, which holds true for this release. Also like their last album, a lot of the songs seem largely influenced by Chris, and if you have listened to his solo albums you will know where I am coming from. Fortunately there is enough of a balance with the old school Soundgarden style to offset this.
Now comes the negative, the last 3 tracks on this delux version are just demo's of 3 of the other tracks on the album. Now I wish I had read the tracklist more closely on Amazon, but being a fan I just went ahead and ordered what I thought would be the best version. As a result I feel a little short changed and let down by the band because 3 extra pounds hasnt got me 3 extra songs! And the demo's certainly dont add anything, other than run time. Am sure they had extra material when recording this album that they could have included instead on the delux version.
My advice is get the non-delux version, even if like me you are a Soundgarden fan.
Like a few comments here I was a little disappointed with the album - at first anyway, from a purely "Soundgarden" aspect. Not really a "dirty" enough sound, it's certainly not a continuation from Down On The Upside, although there are flavours of old like the very beginning of "A Thousand Days Before". But then that was a long time ago and they were never realistically going to pick up like they've never been away.
Having listened to it a few times I must say I really like it. The opening track is just great and the best way to kick off. I won't give a run down of all the tracks as this is just personal preference. I will say "Halfway There" is pure Cornell solo album (not that one we won't mention though!) but I'd rather it on the album than not as it is wonderful. Some really good songs, a few ok ones, no awful ones thankfully.
Overall I think a 3.5 or 4 is just about right. Short of their past best and a little inconsistent but in the current climate of dross and considering the break, rather good.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Solid if unspectacular return from one of the grunge scene s better bands.Published 8 months ago by Tommy the Cat.
I have always liked Soundgarden and this CD will not disappoint ! It is the kind of album that grows on you and is best played at high volume too - Soundgarden ROCK !!Published 13 months ago by J. Lincoln
Great album, the old lions still roar. Great album version too, the live tracks are very goodPublished 19 months ago by Alvise Ravenna