Feature: Why Soundgarden Will Save Rock 'N' Roll Again With "King Animal"
Tue, 30 Oct 2012 06:47:25
Soundgarden possess something that very few bands in history share in common.
It's an unadulterated, untouched, and unbreakable mystique. Black Sabbath have it. Led Zeppelin have it. Metallica have it. The Beatles have it. It stems from that ability to weave together the otherworldly and the universal into one singular vision.
On November 13, Soundgarden will release King Animal [iTunes link] via Seven Four Entertainment/Republic Records, and it's already shrouded in the same beckoning haze that made Louder Than Love, Badmotorfinger, Superunknown, and Down on the Upside classics.
The first single, "Been Away Too Long", bares a distorted ferocity few bands of the 21st century can muster. Kim Thayil's impenetrable guitar roars with teeth out as Ben Shepherd's bass rumbles with quaking intensity. Matt Cameron holds down a mind-numbing groove in the background, and this Animal pounces. At the eye of the storm, Chris Cornell seamlessly segues from that towering, divine scream into a strange hum on the bridge. That's the aforementioned mystique. It's those offbeat flourishes of personality that always separated Soundgarden from the pack. On Superuknown, songs like "Head Down" and "4th of July" treaded truly unknown territory, and that's still where the band reign supreme.
Not unveiling too much—the greats never have to—the band has previewed some other slivers of the record "By Crooked Steps" and "Bones of Birds". The former sounds like another jagged riff-driven trip, rolling ahead on polyrhythmic darkness and a detuned deluge. Meanwhile, "Bones of Birds" echoes the psychedelic warmth of their dreamiest fare, while inserting the knife in at the right moment with the right amount of heaviness.
Soundgarden have always thrived on balancing those extremes. They've got "Black Hole Sun", but they've also got "Gun" and "Hunted Down" in their arsenal. Only a handful of artists can boast that level of diversity, and that ability to keep things a little strange. As music fans, we never get that anymore. The commercial goes way too commercial, while the weird goes way too weird. Mystique is all about balance. Yes, bands like Led Zeppelin had an element of being untouchable, but they also penned some freakishly catchy music. Same thing is true for Soundgarden. Plus, there's a danger and darkness we rarely get to enjoy as music fans that these four individuals capture with nothing more than instruments and words.
Merging all of those intricacies and idiosyncrasies, King Animal will further cement Soundgarden's legacy as one of the greatest bands in history, still crafting timeless records and pushing the envelope. That's what rock music needs, and they're going to save it again with this album.
Hail to the Kings. Hail Soundgarden…
Will you be getting King Animal?
See our feature on the "Top 25 Soundgarden Songs of All-Time" here!
See our feature "Artists Talk Soundgarden" here!