29/06/12 || BamaHammer
Just before I completely laid down my soul to the gods rock and roll, grunge was king. The funny thing is that some of those flannel-clad fuckos were pretty good. Alice in Chains remains one of my favorite bands to this day, dead singer or not, and Soundgarden was the talented enigma that I really grew to love with 1994’s masterpiece, “Superunknown”.
8,5. This band could definitely write great songs. What’s even more impressive is the way they could take a riff or beat in some exotic time signature and make it sound completely normal. Not only did they sound normal, some sounded good enough to be substantially huge radio hits. “Spoonman” dominated the airwaves for a short while (and you can even hear it today here and there), and it makes me wonder how many great radio hits out there are written in 7/4 time. “Fell on black days” and “Black hole sun” experienced some pretty impressive success in the US radio market as well.
8. The production is really nothing special, but it’s solid. It was done by Michael Beinhorn, who worked with Aerosmith, Ozzy, Korn, Hole, and Marilyn Manson, which either is or isn’t impressive depending on who you ask. The guitars are thick and crunchy. Every piece of the drum kit is clearly audible. Even the bass can be heard pretty much all the time. Chris Cornell sounds like the steel-piped golden god that he is. It’s just a very solid-sounding album, which is all it needed to be.
8,5. Utilizing that ugly ass Guild SG ripoff and a Crybaby wah pedal, Kim Thayil is still one of the most recognizable, iconic guitarists of the ’90s and for good reason. He could write a weird, heavy riff as well as a solid lead. His solo in the title track here is still one of my favorite solos of the grunge era. Even the tone on this album oozes rock deliciousness.
9. Chris Cornell’s pipes are legendary for their sheer power and excellent range, and though he doesn’t flaunt them like he did on “Badmotorfinger” or “Louder than love”, he still manages to turn in a fine performance on this one. He shows the world how to wail on tracks like “The day I tried to live” and shows how to sing with soft, subtle emotion on tracks like “Like suicide” and ““Black hole sun”. The guy is simply a rock legend whether you admit it or not.
7. The bass parts courtesy of Ben Shepherd are surprisingly interesting for a grunge album from 1994. He’s fairly prominent in the mix, so it’s easy to pick out what he’s doing quite often, and what he’s doing is pretty cool most of the time. The underlying bass part on the chorus of “Superunknown” is a fucken clinic on how to play grunge rock bass.
7. Matt Cameron is a drum whore. He’s also played with Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age, Temple of the Dog, Smashing Pumpkins, and your mom. He’s not what you would call great by any means, but whoever he’s playing with, he gets the job done admirably. With Soundgarden, Cameron was probably asked to stretch to the edge of his comfort zone with some of the time signatures, and he makes them sound good.
6,5. Nothing you would say made a lot of sense. In fact, most of them are pretty stupid:
In my eyes, indisposed,
In disguise as no one knows,
Hides the face, lies the snake
The sun in my disgrace.
9. I can’t really explain why, but I’ve always loved the image on the cover of this album. Ever since the moment I first saw it, it’s always given me that “What the fuck is going on?” sensation. It’s a laughing elf made of fire atop an upside-down, shadowy forest. What’s not to love?
2. It says fucken “Soundgarden”. I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen a shit ton better.
6. Lyrics in large font. You’ve seen a booklet like this a thousand times before.
Overall and ending rant
Well, is this album metal enough to be featured in the hallowed Class6(66) section? I say yes, without a doubt. This is one of the most integral heavy albums of 90’s and and of the grunge era in general, and it deserves to be remembered as such. If you don’t have this one, you need it. Trust me.
- Released: 1994
- Label: A&M
- Website: www.soundgardenworld.com
- Chris Cornell: vocals, guitars
- Kim Thayil: guitars
- Ben Shephard: bass
- Matt Cameron: drums
- 01. Let Me Drown
- 02. My Wave
- 03. Fell on Black Days
- 04. Mailman
- 05. Superunknown
- 06. Head Down
- 07. Black Hole Sun
- 08. Spoonman
- 09. Limo Wreck
- 10. The Day I Tried to Live
- 11. Kickstand
- 12. Fresh Tendrils
- 13. 4th of July
- 14. Half
- 15. Like Suicide