3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Badmotorfinger (Audio CD)
Badmotorfinger was one of the first albums I ever bought. At the time, my only exposure to Soundgarden was through endless repeat viewings of 'Black Hole Sun' on Kerrang, and I bought the album on a whim, largely because I liked what I'd heard of Audioslave. My mum asked me what I'd bought. I said 'a grunge album', receiving the desired response of eye-rolling parental denigration. I had no idea what grunge was, I just knew that parents were supposed to disapprove of it. By the time I'd finished listening to the album, I knew exactly what grunge was.
It's difficult to describe what it was like listening to this album first time. I'd listened to rock before, namely my dad's collection of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, along with the more contemporary stuff, but it had never sounded like this. 'Jesus Christ Pose', in particular sounded like some kind of black mass, and it still sounds as fresh as ever, a raw, undiluted blast of pure, unrestrained, diabolical menace. Simply put, I had never heard anything like it, and it introduced my to whole new thing called metal, a relationship I maintain to this day.
The rest of the album still stands up as absolutely stellar. Sure, it shows it's age in places, but the dirty production values just add to the seismic, monolithic power of slow burners like 'Outshined' and 'Slaves and Bulldozers', without descending to the tortured low-fi nadirs of Sleep (as admittedly awesome as that band is). It lends the whole piece an air of prehistoric, Sabbath-esque mysticism. And mystical it surely is. No matter how sludgy and down-tuned things get (and tunings get to spleen-agitating depths) Badmotorfinger never slips into mere stoner rock, thanks to the evident influence of psychedlia and prog, that, I think, raises Soundgarden above their grunge peers, to a level of artistic eminence. Songs like 'Searching With My Good Eye Closed' reach an ethereal fever pitch of majesty and spirituality, even, with Cornell's (to use an appropriate cliche) banshee wails and Thayil's kaleidoscopic soloing swirling and mixing into a distorted cathartic euphoria. Cornell's ambiguous lyrics certainly help the album. Whether what he's writing is some kind of deep, cryptic poetry, or just gibberish seems largely irrelevant. The lyrics sound absolutely fantastic, and Cornell delivers them with astounding bravado. I don't think Soundgarden topped this album, even on the superb follow-up Superunknown, and it remains an absolute masterpiece, perhaps THE crowning acievement of early 90's alternative rock.