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Soundgarden — King Animal


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"I got nowhere to go ever since I came back," Chris Cornell growls over a warped-alloy guitar charge on "Been Away Too Long," the lead single from the first Soundgarden album since 1996.


He's singing about Seattle, about coming home after years away and feeling out of place in his own hometown. He's also talking about a sound: the grunge his band helped define, and which once dominated rock's mainstream.


Now, there isn't much of a rock mainstream left to dominate; big, heavy, high-protein bands like Soundgarden are all but extinct. Which is exactly why "King Animal" is a weirdly cool beast to encounter in 2012 -- like running into a mastodon in a Melvins T-shirt.


The band's sound manages to be as ageless as it is anachronistic. Soundgarden were the crusty hard-rock true believers amid alt-rock's self-appointed revolutionaries: If Nirvana wanted to shred your world and Pearl Jam strove to redeem it, Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron wanted to take you out in the woods with a six-pack and headbang to Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. King Animal shows they haven't forgotten how to stomp out the jams: Thayil is still a warlock guitar conjurer of the first order, and Cornell rolls around his multi-octave vocal range like some kind of backwoods metal-Mariah.




So awesome to have another Soundgarden record to rock to, and this one doesn't disappoint at all.

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