Out of the exile

Tags: Opinion
Out of the exile
AGED, BUT NOT DONE: Soundgarden are a mature lot now
Keeping all its minions in check — hungry and wanting more, the beast of grunge music hasn’t been in hibernation, it was merely sharpening its fangs. After what seemed like an endless period of 16 years, the animal called Soundgarden is finally out of its cage, thrashing wildly, devouring all who stand in its way.

King Animal, the sixth studio album by the Seattle-based band that still waves the flag of grunge, was released on November 12. The album had been a long time coming and didn’t disappoint the fans that thought the band, which reformed in September 2010, would give this year a miss as well.

The album opens with the strong, not-really-expected-from-this-band sort of a song titled Been Away Too Long, but given the context of their hiatus, it works well. Not to forget, we get to hear frontman Chris Cornell reuniting with his intelligent fervour of writing lyrics that go with the heavy melody. “This place has a special kind of falling apart/Like they put the whole thing together in the dark/No one knows where the edge of the knife is/And no one knows where intelligent life is” — well put, Mr Cornell.

Things do not slow down with the second track, Non-State Actor, which begins with a tasty riff by Thayil and Cornell screaming to announce his introduction in the song. “We settle for, a little bit more than everything,” explains Cornell in the track, and it really reunites you with the Soundgarden, albeit in a more mature way. This is the band that we all loved and grew up with, you will find yourself thinking as you swim through this easy track.

Thayil puts his phaser pedal to good use in the intro of By Crooked Steps. When the intro ends, you settle in into the trippy, stoner groove of the song. And when Cornell starts singing, you feel like it’s a different person — he has never sounded like this before. If you miss his robust voice in this track, then the sitar-like vibes of A Thousand Days Before will make you feel right at home. Cornell, with his brilliant range, throws his voice all over the place in this song — which has his vocals rising and falling like raging waves in a stormy ocean.

Things move towards the heavy department in the next track. Soundgarden have always been good with creating a good balance of light and shade — of heaviness and deep, dark mellowness in the same track and Blood On The Valley Floor is an example of the same. However, this song is plagued with one problem that seems to have infected the entire album — it ends abruptly right when it starts getting interesting. Now it is fair to assume that the band probably had record sales in mind before releasing this album. But one can also complain that they could have had longer songs on certain occasions — a couple more seconds — hell, even a minute wouldn’t hurt us. The one stinker in the entire album, thus, is that Soundgarden aren’t as indulgent in their craft as they have been previously, even though this album will surely grow on many. Other songs worth hitting the repeat button for are Halfway There, Attrition and Rowing.


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