3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Sabbath In Seattle,
This review is from: Badmotorfinger (Audio CD)
An absolute killer of an album, slightly neglected by some in favour of the more accessible 'Superunknown'. This is the moment in which Soundgarden really discovered their sound, hit their groove and produced a pummelling introduction to smart, heavy, sublime music.
'Grunge' has developed a slightly strange reputation as a deliberately sloppy approach to guitar phrasing, simple time signatures and introverted lyrics with the odd bit of feedback for good measure. This is largely down to Nirvana and their imitators.
Soundgarden sound nothing like this. And 'Badmotorfinger', despite being one of the breakthrough albums of grunge, clearly bucks most of these clichés. This series of now-classic riffs, brought to you by the hugely-underrated and supernaturally talented Kim Thayil, are among the tightest you will ever hear, carefully paced and chosen. No wasted notes, no pointless fretboard self-love, no feedback indulgences. Just great rhythms and superlative phrasing, delivered with a rare warmth and punch.
All that would be enough to make this essential listening. But Soundgarden were the product of four pretty unique musicians. Cornell's vocal range, for anyone not yet familiar with it, is absolutely huge, and he makes the full use of that dynamism here. There are great screams and falsettos (although not, god forbid, in anything even approaching an '80s hair metal kind of way) and a deft touch with lyrics. Matt Cameron is one of the best drummers alive and contributes subtle rhythmic shifts and percussive hints as well as the propulsion that moves the whole thing along. And Ben Shepherd delivers the rough edges with a low, flowing bass which offsets everything else just enough to breath a joyous momentum to proceedings.
Every track is stand out, from the punk tempos of 'Somewhere' and 'Drawing Flies' to the slow-building atmospheric riffs of 'Searching With My Good Eye Closed' and the full-blown rhythm/anthem fests of 'Outshined' and 'Jesus Christ Pose'. Comparisons to Led Zeppelin are, IMHO, a little misplaced. The crunch, the vocals, the moods, all are more reminiscent of Black Sabbath or, at a stretch, Black Sabbath channelling Led Zeppelin. Later Soundgarden mellows that sound more but this is a moment of controlled anger and energy, with licks, runs, and motifs that deliver as much warmth and crackle as aggression and misanthropy. A real classic to listen to again and again, to treasure forever.
Essential cuts: 'Outshined', 'Slaves and Bulldozers', 'Jesus Christ Pose', 'Somewhere', 'Room A Thousand Years Wide', 'Mind Riot' and 'Drawing Flies'.