Rock bands of the nineteen nineties have had a tendency to come up short when it comes to longevity. In other words, it seems as though their creativity lacked the ability to stand the test of time. Not so with Soundgarden as the power of their unique brand of creativity has critics turning over in their graves. For after taking sixteen years off from their last studio album you’d think the chance of them ever producing another project would be a bet you couldn’t take. But they’ve proved us all wrong, and the irony of it is that the sixteen year wait has not diminished the band’s ability to keep it raw. In a 21st century musical Soundgarden’s recent studio release proves the band’s music has stood the test of time.
If you’re one of the hungry ones, famishing because Soundgarden hasn’t cooked up a full length meal in years, get ready to pull up to the “Soundtable” because they’re serving up quite a meaty dish.
With Soundgarden finally answering the calls of a patiently faithful band of followers, it appears that their newest release will serve up a steady flow of eargasms.
However, I for one, thought it would never happen, especially since singer Chris Cornell utterly dismissed any notion of reforming the group back in 2009. Never the less we’ll not let that come between a long awaited welcoming shindig. As is a customary Soundgarden signature tradition, Cornell persuasively grabs our attention with “I’ve been away for too long. ” There you can hear his signature thick riffs, heavy but tasty beat pounding you through a vivid picture of it being performed on stage to a live audience. And the passion doesn’t stop there as “Non-State Actor” rides in on some of the strongest guitar work reminiscent of no one else but Soundgarden. Cornell, still has what it takes to produce an extraordinary studio product. You can just sit back in amazement of the creative process that have gone into “King Animal.” Whatever shifts and changes in musical fashion that might have taken place in the intervening years Soundgarden has transcended into the present. It’s like they stepped right out of the years past in high speed, without missing a beat to remain as relevant and faithful to their unique sound.
There is the feeling and a sense that the Soundgarden had to see the reunion would inspire them to rise above the heap of ashes many critics had been moaning through the years. It’s probably not a stretch to say no one expected they’d come back, let alone with such a ferociously powerful way. But the creative inspiration was never more present, ultimately fueling the magic they never lost. It can be felt throughout “King Animal.”
The vibe is undeniably Soundgarden, moody, groove-laden rock, but undoubtedly fresh for today’s market as the band’s evolution is put on display, with Chris Cornell’s iconic vocals and Kim Thayil’s guitar working to provide the sonic power, which is impeccably complemented by the rhythm section of drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben Shepherd.
It quite impressive to see that everyone in the band has at least one writing credit on “King Animal.” Impressively, the songs cover a lot of sonic terrain from the explosive drums that fuel ‘By Crooked Steps’ to the ethereal swirling vocals on ‘Blood on the Valley Floor.’ The haunting lingering vibe left by the intricate web of sound spun in ‘Bones of Birds’ is arguably one of the disc’s best offerings, followed by the visual soundscape painted by ‘Taree.’ The album offers up an eclectic mix of visual imagery, thought provoking prose, all set to a timeless soundscape of flourishing rock with a reminiscent feel.
Much of “King Animal” will keep even the most skeptical listeners, inspired by their grit. It’s a Soundgarden, even all these years later, which has maintained its animal instincts that made them the toast of their genre. Soundgarden’s allure has always been their habit of letting that needle snag and irritate a bit. Perhaps that’s why “King Animal” leaves the listener satisfied that the band decided not to sanitize their songs just serve today’s greedy commercial interests.
In music, it’s sometimes difficult to stand the test of time but Soundgarden proves with ‘King Animal’ that they did not reassemble just to preserve their rich legacy, but to build upon the legacy that we’re all so familiar with.