Soundgarden "Live on I5" Review — 4.5 out of 5 stars
Fri, 11 Mar 2011 10:50:03
Most live records don't capture the primal, poetic power that Soundgarden's Live on I5 does.
In fact, most studio records don't either, but that's another story. Recorded over various dates during the west coast leg of Soundgarden's 1996 tour, Live on I5 is the legendary band's very first proper live release, and it stands alongside their classic albums Louder Than Love, Badmotorfinger, Superunknown, and Down on the Upside proudly. There's an urgency to the recording, and you can practically hear guitar god Kim Thayil picking the meandering riff during opener, "Spoonman." An older gem, "Searching with my Good Eye Closed," builds with a rhythmic darkness from drummer Matt Cameron's polyrhythmic pummeling and Ben Shepherd's brooding bass lines. At the heart of the sonic maelstrom, Chris Cornell bleeds every inch of his soul into each into each note of "Let Me Drown" and the psychedelically invasive Superunknown standout "Head Down." There's a paranoid sensitivity pulsating through these live renditions that takes hold of the record and doesn't let go—just like everything the band's done.
"Burden in My Hand" sees Cornell reach heights that only Robert Plant could, while the chug on "Slaves & Bulldozers" celebrates Black Sabbath musically, while encasing the delivery in its own sludgy brilliance. The band's cover of "Helter Skelter" proves poignant, seeing Cornell tear through the song with a punk fire and the accompanying music morph into full heavy metal rapture.
"Fell on Black Days" comes to life on stage as the crowd echoes its calculated catharsis in the dark hook. The band subtly shines in pockets of instrumental virtuosity bubbling up just under the surface of their mega-hit "Black Hole Sun," as the audience's energy practically roars through the speakers. Everything culminates with a divine "Jesus Christ Pose," as Cornell's screams reach out to heaven before one final crushing embrace of guitars, drums, and bass sends it all home.
I5 never sounded so beautiful, and Soundgarden have crafted a classic live album. This is essential listening and the perfect way to whet your appetite for the band's anxiously awaited forthcoming studio album…
Are you excited for Live on I5 when it drops March 22?