Superunknown
SOUNDGARDEN

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SOUNDGARDEN - Superunknown cover
4.12 | 60 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1994

Filed under Hard Rock

Tracklist

1. Let Me Drown (3:52)
2. My Wave (5:11)
3. Fell On Black Days (4:42)
4. Mailman (4:25)
5. Superunknown (5:06)
6. Head Down (6:08)
7. Black Hole Sun (5:18)
8. Spoonman (4:06)
9. Limo Wreck (5:47)
10. The Day I Tried To Live (5:19)
11. Kickstand (1:34)
12. Fresh Tendrils (4:16)
13. 4th Of July (5:08)
14. Half (2:14)
15. Like Suicide (7:11)

Total Time 70:07

Line-up/Musicians

- Chris Cornell / vocals, guitar
- Kim Thayil / lead guitar
- Ben Shepherd / bass, drums, percussion, vocals, guitar
- Matt Cameron / drums, percussion, mellotron

About this release

March 8, 1994
A&M

Bonus tracks:

16. She Likes Surprises (3:18)
17. Like Suicide (acoustic version) (6:17)

Thanks to Pekka, Stooge, Lynx33 for the updates

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Superunknown [2 LP]Superunknown [2 LP]
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A&M
Vinyl$299.97 (used)
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SOUNDGARDEN SUPERUNKNOWN reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Stephen
I still remember clearly I bought this tape when it came out in 1994 because of the track “Black Hole Sun" and grunge wave had reached its top before a new and fresh alternative rock began swelling in. "Superunknown" apparently is the band's breakthrough album, spawning five singles, and certified five platinums in the US, but behind their commercial success and after all these years, I never been able to digest their music nicely. Perhaps because their musical style isn't really my type of interest, but on the other hand, probably the majority of the songs here are plain dull and this album was overly exaggerated by MTV and label.

From my subjective point of views, there are several of really great songs here. I'll start with the single "My Wave", I found an interesting groovy arrangement inside. The next one, is the other single, "Black Hole Sun", which is very nostalgic and introduced Cornell's clear voice, a radio friendly track and a lovable piece, even to non-rock listeners. The third one is the uptempo punchy track, "Kickstand", but a shame that this is only a 1.3 minutes track. The other listenable tracks are "Let Me Drown", "Fell On Black Days", the title track, and "The Day I Tried To Live", but the rest are pointless, terribly average, and some of them are even worst. Tracks like "Spoonman", "Limo Wreck", or "Half" are good examples of utilizing the player's skip button.

The nuance on this album is dark and depressive, accompanied by doom-laden arrangement, slow and dynamic tempo, and alternative tunings which is typical in grunge-style music. To me, "Superunknown" isn't a horrible album, but ain't great either. There are just too many fillers and decent tracks. I buy this disc just for the sake of couple of great tracks I mentioned above, and to bring a good memory of how hard I save my pennies for days just to buy the tape, more than 15 years ago.
UMUR
"Superunknown" is the 4th full-length studio album by American hard rock/ metal act Soundgarden. The album was released in March 1994 through A&M Records. While the band enjoyed great succes with their last album "Badmoterfinger (1991)", "Superunknown" was the band´s international breakthrough and biggest commercial success, selling enough albums to be certified 5 times platinum in the US alone.

The music on "Superunknown" is hard rock/ heavy rock with influences from psychadelic/ alternative rock, eastern ethnic influences and some heavy metal elements too. There are not much on "Superunknown" that can be labelled metal though. What makes this album so strong and what was probably the main reason for it´s great success is the strong and memorable melodies. While Soundgarden certainly lifted the pedal a bit compared to the more energetic sounding "Badmoterfinger", those unforgetable melodies just makes all the difference. Songs like "Let Me Drown", "Fell on Black Days", "Spoon man", "The Day I Tried to Live", "Limo Wreck" (I love that track), "4th of July" and of course the excellent "Black Hole Sun" will forever stick in my head, but actually there are no sub par tracks on the album. Some stick out more than others, but even the more mellow psychadelic tracks (which at first can seem a bit dull) fit the overall musical concept of the album very well.

The band are very well playing, and the songs feature many strong riffs and ideas, but the songwriting is always in focus, which means that Chris Cornell´s strong and distinct vocals are perfectly placed in the spotlight where they belong. He has changed his vocal style a bit since "Badmoterfinger" and his vocal performance on "Superunknown" is much more mature and varied. At times I do miss the fierce energy that characterized his performance on "Badmoterfinger", but I greatly enjoy the more varied vocal style on "Superunknown" too.

The production is warm and professional. It suits the music perfectly.

"Superunknown" is one of those albums meant/destined to be a classic. The album reeks of class and with the more easy to digest and commercial/memorable songs it´s no wonder that this album also attracted a mainstream audience. Of course it didn´t hurt that the album was backed up with several succesful promotional videos that received heavy rotation on MTV. A 4 star rating is fully deserved.
AtomicCrimsonRush
Soundgarden’s best album begins with the killer riffing that makes this album a sensational master work. 'Let me Drown' is pure riffing and melodic vocals, a trademark of the band on this classic masterpeice. I first heard Soundgarden with ‘Spoon man’ and I was hooked into grabbing their album as I was fascinated by the polyrhythmic off kilter beats and very strong vocal work of the tracks.There are so many highlights here is it is difficult to discern one from another. ‘My Wave’ with it’s hypnotic riff in 5/4 time sig is a prime example. The quiet melodic beauty of “Fell on Black Days” played in 6/4. The melodies mixed with huge blistering guitar riffs is reminiscent of the type of work Live were producing at the time.

“Superunknown” was huge in 1994, capturing interest from all levels of music fans and it was a commercial success, a breakthrough album, that debuted on the Billboard 200 at number one. The band could not have dreamed of such success after three fairly unknown albums. There were five successful singles lifted from the album; "The Day I Tried to Live", "My Wave", "Fell on Black Days", "Spoonman" and "Black Hole Sun". The album was certified five times platinum by the US RIAA and was a progressive heavy rock blockbuster.

The riffs by Kim Thayil are amazing such as ‘Mailman’, and “I’m riding you all the way” the catch phrase on this is hypnotic and there are mellotron pads underlayed beneath. The guitars definitely hook you in with a transfixing hypnotic power.

'Superunknown’ for instance has a very strong riff structure. The lyrics are terrific on this with very forceful performance by Cormell; “If this isn't what you see, It doesn't make you blind, If this doesn't make you feel, It doesn't mean you've died, Where the river's high, Where the river's high...” It was a commercially accessible direction for the band but remains definitively heavy and progressive.

‘Head Down’ is outstanding and very progressive with a trance rhythm and melody. It is a darker track for the band but a nice transgression away from sheer heavy riffing.

‘Black Hole Sun’ is played in a 4/4 time sig with a 9/8 bridge section. It is replete with mystical Middle Eastern flourishes and has a dark atmosphere and a vibrant film clip to promote it. The clip is disturbing with crazy smiling misfits being washed by an acid rain downpour, complete with discoloration of vivid washes of green, yellow and blue. The quiet song was a massive hit for the band peaking at number 1 on US mainstream charts, and a worldwide smash.

The ambience does not last long though as the next track smashes headlong with riffs to die for. The almighty ‘Spoonman’ has one of the most amazing riffs that crashes along with an odd time signature that alternate between 7/4 and 4/4, and indelible lyrics; “Feel the rhythm with your hands, Steal the rhythm while you can, spoonman, Speak the rhythm on your own, Speak the rhythm all alone, spoonman.” It may be about the rhythmic banging of a spoon player, or it could be about the speed drug being mixed with heat and on a spoon. No matter what this is a brilliant hard rocking track, and was another chart success reaching number 3 in US, and making an impact worldwide. The chorus has a fabulous riff and blistering vocals of Cornell; “Spoonman, come together with your hands, Save me, I'm together with your plan, Save me...” One of the best heavy prog tracks of all time.

‘The Day I Tried to Live’ has a brilliant riff from Thayil and very powerful bass from Ben Shephard, the loud chorus builds to a crescendo and then keeps building to the melodic post chorus section. I love this track especially the inspired guitar work.

‘FreshTendrils’ is another very melodic riff heavy track with reflective lyrics; “long time coming, It seemed to take me through, Long time coming Many served the few, And long to taste the shame, That bows down before you.” There are odd time signature changes on this too placing it in a progressive genre for my ears.

The ultra doomy guitar on ‘4th of July’ is aggressive and dark. It crunches along effortlessly in a crawl metal style. The lead break is noisy off kilter screech riffing.

‘Half’ is another Eastern influenced song with psychedelic tendencies, the type of Beatle-esque mumbo jumbo of the late 60s Indian bandwagon. The use of Scitar is surprising and makes this an oddity of the album.

'Like Suicide’ is a strange one and the lyrics were inspired when a bird hit Cornell’s window severely injuring it and so he smashed it with a rock, ending it’s life and it’s pain; “Heard it from another room, Eyes were waking up just to fall asleep, Love's like suicide, Dazed out in a garden bed, With a broken neck lays my broken gift, Just like suicide, And my last ditch Was my last brick, Lent to finish her, Finish her”.

The album is a masterpiece of groundbreaking metal sounds and commercial excess, wildly experimental, playing with a myriad of time signatures and tinged with bitter sadness and aggression, the album is all killer, no filler, and the quintessential pinnacle for Soundgarden; once heard never forgotten.

Members reviews

NorseGangsta
Superunknown, while overall not Soundgarden's heaviest work, was easily the best album that the Seattle legends put out. With an eclectic mix of alternative metal and alternative rock with some experimental tracks (all with progressive elements), this is the most diverse album in the band's catalogue.

What made Superunkown, and Soundgarden in general, stand out among the other Seattle grunge bands was their obvious playing ability and musical talent. Chris Cornell's extremely large vocal range is utilized all though the album, most notably on the songs "Limo Wreck" and "The Day I Tried To Live." Cornell's lyrics deal with themes ranging from depression to drug abuse, typical of grunge bands at the Kim Thayil's heavy riffing provides the heaviest segments of the album on songs such as "Spoonman" and "4th of July." Thayil also uses unique effects and powerful melodies throughout the album, adding to Cornell's lyrics about the mysterious and unknown. He also contributes several unique and notable solos on the songs "Black Hole Sun", "Spoonman", and "Like Suicide". Matt Cameron's drumming, although not in the caliber of songs like "Jesus Christ Pose" from Badmotorfinger, is still impressive, keeping a driving beat while including technical fills. Ben Shepard's bass lines are often a mix of both the guitars and drums, complementing on or both of the instruments.

Superunknown is chock full of amazing songs and includes many classics, with little or no filler. While the songs "Head Down" and "Half" may appear to be odd filler songs that did not need to be on the album, they provide a feel for what limits the band was willing to experiment to at the time. Soundgarden shows their progressive tendencies all throughout the album, with many songs in alternate time signatures and tunings, with unconventional song structures. Superunknown is a classic mix of some of the best songs that Soundgarden ever recorded, and is a perfect candidate for the greatest grunge album ever.

Recommended Songs: My Wave, Fell On Black Days, Superunknown, Black Hole Sun, Spoonman, Limo Wreck, Like Suicide,

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Metal Subgenres

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