15-16 years between albums is a LONG time. We heard of something in the past years with the band, you may have heard of, Guns N Roses and their album Chinese Democracy. Now will the Seattle grunge-hard rockers meet the expectation, or will it be swept under the carpet as an unnecessary album and they are forced only to playing classic tracks live?
Here’s my review.
Now there’ll be people looking for that classic Soundgarden sound, others something new. The album is a blend of that. Tracks like; Been Away Too Long are exceptionally catchy. The album isn’t solely this and is incredibly varied however. A track that stands out called By Crooked Steps has a riff really similar to Spoonman (if you are a Soundgarden fan and do not know this song, get out now… or listen to it) but only several milliseconds of it and as the song progresses it’s clearly a good, and original, song. The demo version of BCS included on the Deluxe Version is better in some ways though. There are some songs that seem too ‘pop’ for SG; one being Halfway There. The songs aren’t bad per se but they sound like they should have been on Chris Cornell’s solo album.
Cornell’s vocals are astounding. His voice has aged well, sure they may not have been great during the Audioslave era but he must have changed his technique or daily regime as they feel much stronger and from live footage it’s evident he can pull it off outside the studio. Rowing has a great vocal harmony during the choruses that sounds like really early blues music, but when blended with the instruments modernises it in a fantastic way.
There are some great guitar riffs. Not all technically brilliant or innovative but definitely newer sounds that make you bob your head. By Crooked Steps, Worse Dreams and Non-State Actor all are great riff songs, rhythms are brilliant. A track called Blood On The Valley Floor has a great groove to it. Thayil (and the whole band) is really dynamic with his riff creation, especially when adding the ‘eastern-vibe’ to them. A track called Taree is a great example of the band’s dynamics; catchy vocal lines, great instrumental work and a nice set of lyrics to go with it. This is probably one of the stand out tracks.
While no songs are better than the classic Soundgarden songs such as; Fell On Black Days, Black Hole Sun, Spoonman, Jesus Christ Pose and so on, there are still some solid tracks. A good comeback, a sh*t load better than others. The album isn’t the best thing ever, and is probably not the best thing they’ve ever done. But it’s definitely evident that they can still produce great music as a team. Also it’s definitely a grower, listen to it once and several days later you’ll be humming the guitar riffs.
First Time Listener = Been Away Too Long
A StandoutTrack = Taree
Score = 7.5/10