Ok. I know a lot of people will say "grunge is a media term for the rock bands in Seattle" but I imagine this is what a grunge album was meant to sound like, .
Chris' vocals have no doubt weakened, I mean come on he's 48 here. However although his power has gone and his roar has become of a whine, His range is still there. Chris is still one of the best vocalists outshined by his past self. He really brings out the richness in his low singing. For examples of his vocal prowess the high notes on By Crooked Steps, A thousands days before and Eyelid's Mouth are still jaw dropping and he still belts out a few screams here and there on Rowing, Non State Actor and Taree.
The unusual time signatures can throw new listens off but its a signature part of a Soundgarden song and it's one of the makes them unique. Kim's guitar is even more catchy and every song has a riff that will be stuck in your head for days (Been Away Too Long, Attrition) Matt is still one of the busiest drummers around, with Matt smashes away to perfection (Non-State Actor, Attrition) and Ben once again delivers the dark funky bass and some nice backing vocals.
The lyrics are beautiful, multilayered and gothic, Bones of Birds, Black Saturday and Rowing are my personal favorite lyrically, Rowing being a metaphorical story of not knowing what the point of life is, the mechanical repetition of rowing comparing it to life and the further we go through life the more we lose our innocence "Rowing is bleeding and bleeding is breathing, Breathing is feeling burning and freezing, Keep getting dirty but I started out clean" Black Saturday is a beautiful acoustic number where Chris does his best country vocals although I still haven't figured out what the song is about, whether it is religion, a past love or growing old. Who know's all I know is these lyrics are some Chris' best. Bones of Birds is about having children and trying to bring them up the best you can in a work so broken, Chris says "it's about not wanting them to lose their innocence" (Tried to build on bones of birds).
This album is a work of art ranging from the rocky fist pumping By Crooked Step and the guitar driven been away too long, to the more mainstream pop sounds of Halfway There (which sounds like a Carry On outtake), the psychedelic bluesy tunes Bones of Birds to the folk/country Black Saturday. I would actually rank this as my 3rd Soundgarden album. Everything adds another layer to this album, Chris' range is at its widest since Superunknown, They all play with perfect chemistry it's hard to believe that this is their first album for over 15 years and they're already working on a new album!
Welcome back to the King's of Rock, The alpha males of grunge it really has Been Too Long.