Soundgarden - King Animal

After 16 years, grunge stalwarts Soundgarden have returned with their first album of new material since 1996's Down On The Upside. It's always a bit worrisome when bands get back together and attempt to pick things up where they left off, especially after such a prolonged absence. But the good news for everyone is that King Animal is a first rate effort and proves without a doubt that Chris Cornell and crew still have a lot to say that's worth hearing.

Starting off with the wink and a nod that is the hard-hitting 'Been Away Too Long' - "I only ever really wanted a break / I've been away too long" - the album stomps along, as heavy as these guys ever got, Kim Thayil's screaming guitar riffs more than a match for Cornell's blistering vocals. Highlights include the excellent Led Zeppelin-esque 'By Crooked Steps' and the moving 'A Thousand Days Before'. Tracks like 'Blood On The Valley Floor' and 'Worse Dreams' hearken back to their early Than Love grunge days, whereas the laidback 'Black Saturday' and 'Halfway There' recall the more radio-friendly tunes from Superunknown as well as Cornell's solo efforts. King Animal should please both long-time fans as well as newbies. This is classic Soundgarden: melodic, dirty, grungy indie metal just like ma used to make.



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