SOUNDGARDEN
Alternative Metal / Hard Rock • United States

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Soundgarden are an American band formed in Seattle, Washington in 1984 by singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Matt Cameron became the band's full-time drummer in 1986, while bassist Ben Shepherd became a permanent replacement for Yamamoto in 1990. Soundgarden were one of the seminal bands in the creation of grunge, a style of alternative rock that developed in Seattle, and was one of a number of grunge bands signed to the record label Sub Pop. Soundgarden were the first grunge band to sign to a major label (A&M Records, in 1988), though the band did not achieve commercial success until they popularized the genre in the early 1990s with Seattle contemporaries Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam. Soundgarden achieved their, biggest success with the 1994 album Superunknown, which debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and yielded the Grammy read more...
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SuperunknownSuperunknown
Remastered
A&M 2014
Audio CD$5.42
$4.53 (used)
SuperunknownSuperunknown
A&M 2014
Vinyl$24.08
$26.11 (used)
Down On The UpsideDown On The Upside
A&M 1996
Audio CD$3.94
$0.67 (used)
Louder Than Love [LP]Louder Than Love [LP]
Explicit Lyrics
A&M 2016
Vinyl$16.07
$15.27 (used)
Soundgarden - BadmotorfingerSoundgarden - Badmotorfinger
A&M 1991
Audio CD$11.97
$1.25 (used)
King AnimalKing Animal
Extra tracks · Deluxe Edition
Republic 2012
Audio CD$11.99
$5.75 (used)
Badmotorfinger [2 LP]Badmotorfinger [2 LP]
A&M 2016
Vinyl$23.35
$18.23 (used)
Ultramega OkUltramega Ok
Sub Pop Records 2017
Audio CD$9.26
$6.25 (used)
A-SidesA-Sides
A&M 1997
Audio CD$12.99
$2.37 (used)
BadmotorfingerBadmotorfinger
Import
Ais 1991
Vinyl$19.88
$23.98 (used)
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17h
SINGLES compilation album Australian CD Chris Cornell Soundgarden Pearl Jam AIC SINGLES compilation album Australian CD Chris Cornell Soundgarden Pearl Jam AIC USD $12.00 (0 bids)
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SOUNDGARDEN The Day I Tried To Live US Promo CD Audioslave Chris Cornel SOUNDGARDEN The Day I Tried To Live US Promo CD Audioslave Chris Cornel USD $12.50 (0 bids)
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17h
SOUNDGARDEN Spoonman RARE Promo Single Audioslave Temple of the Dog Chris Cornel SOUNDGARDEN Spoonman RARE Promo Single Audioslave Temple of the Dog Chris Cornel USD $13.50 (0 bids)
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SOUNDGARDEN Rusty Cage UK CD Single Audioslave Chris Cornell SOUNDGARDEN Rusty Cage UK CD Single Audioslave Chris Cornell USD $20.00 (0 bids)
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SOUNDGARDEN Black Hole Sun Part 2 CD single Chris Cornell Audioslave SOUNDGARDEN Black Hole Sun Part 2 CD single Chris Cornell Audioslave USD $15.50 (0 bids)
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SOUNDGARDEN My Wave Australian CD single Chris Cornell Audioslave SOUNDGARDEN My Wave Australian CD single Chris Cornell Audioslave USD $12.00 (0 bids)
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SOUNDGARDEN Aus/NZ Tour Edition Down on the Upside w/ bonus disc Chris Cornell SOUNDGARDEN Aus/NZ Tour Edition Down on the Upside w/ bonus disc Chris Cornell USD $35.00 (0 bids)
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17h
SOUNDGARDEN Blow up the Outside World AUS CD single Chris Cornell Audioslave SOUNDGARDEN Blow up the Outside World AUS CD single Chris Cornell Audioslave USD $11.50 (0 bids)
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17h
AUDIOSLAVE-WHAT ARE YOU-PROMO ONLY CD-CHRIS CORNELL-SOUNDGARDEN-RAGE-VG++ AUDIOSLAVE-WHAT ARE YOU-PROMO ONLY CD-CHRIS CORNELL-SOUNDGARDEN-RAGE-VG++ USD $25.28 Buy It Now 17h
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Universal Music Group Soundgarden - Down On The Upside [2LP] Universal Music Group Soundgarden - Down On The Upside [2LP] USD $34.98 Buy It Now 19h
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Soundgarden ‎– Rusty Cage Vinyl, 12 Soundgarden ‎– Rusty Cage Vinyl, 12", Etched, Single Sided, Maxi-Single, Limited USD $19.55 (0 bids)
19h
MIDNITE STRING QUARTET-MSQ PERFORMS SOUNDGARDEN (MOD)  CD NEW MIDNITE STRING QUARTET-MSQ PERFORMS SOUNDGARDEN (MOD) CD NEW USD $13.70 Buy It Now 19h
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SOUNDGARDEN BADMOTORFINGER LP MADE IN BRAZIL ORIGINAL FIRST PRESSING 1992 A SOUNDGARDEN BADMOTORFINGER LP MADE IN BRAZIL ORIGINAL FIRST PRESSING 1992 A USD $59.99 Buy It Now 20h
1989 Skin Yard Start Top Watch Vinyl 45 Sub Pop SP47 Nirvana Soundgarden Alt 1989 Skin Yard Start Top Watch Vinyl 45 Sub Pop SP47 Nirvana Soundgarden Alt USD $9.99 Buy It Now 22h
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Badmotorfinger - Soundgarden Vinyl Badmotorfinger - Soundgarden Vinyl USD $41.26 Buy It Now 1 day
Soundgarden-Down On the Upside  (UK IMPORT)  CD NEW Soundgarden-Down On the Upside (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $8.16 Buy It Now 1 day
THE AFGHAN WHIGS 1965 / 1998 / MC CASSETTE (EX) SOUNDGARDEN, NIRVANA THE AFGHAN WHIGS 1965 / 1998 / MC CASSETTE (EX) SOUNDGARDEN, NIRVANA USD $16.39 Buy It Now 1 day
New unused Kurt Cobain film poster 855x630mm nirvana grunge hole soundgarden New unused Kurt Cobain film poster 855x630mm nirvana grunge hole soundgarden USD $34.90 Buy It Now 1 day
Wild & Wooly CD Northwest Rock Collection Kingsmen X-15 Pearl Jam Soundgarden Wild & Wooly CD Northwest Rock Collection Kingsmen X-15 Pearl Jam Soundgarden USD $12.99 Buy It Now 1 day
New unused canvas art print soundgarden nirvana grunge 950x762mm wall decor New unused canvas art print soundgarden nirvana grunge 950x762mm wall decor USD $90.78 Buy It Now 1 day
Soundgarden Superunknown original album flat framed Soundgarden Superunknown original album flat framed USD $22.99 Buy It Now 1 day
ALICE COOPER  SOUNDGARDEN  WHITE ZOMBIE  TRICKY - promo ALICE COOPER SOUNDGARDEN WHITE ZOMBIE TRICKY - promo USD $19.90 Buy It Now 1 day
MELODY MAKER 1992 APR 18 CURE BLACK CROWES SOUNDGARDEN MELODY MAKER 1992 APR 18 CURE BLACK CROWES SOUNDGARDEN USD $12.56 Buy It Now 1 day
MELODY MAKER 1993 OCT 30 BREEDERS BLUR CURE SOUNDGARDEN MELODY MAKER 1993 OCT 30 BREEDERS BLUR CURE SOUNDGARDEN USD $12.56 Buy It Now 1 day
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Soundgarden         **PROMO CD LOT**       Euphoria Morning  --  Bleed Together Soundgarden **PROMO CD LOT** Euphoria Morning -- Bleed Together USD $18.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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MELODY MAKER 1994 SEPTEMBER 10 SHED SEVEN COURTNEY LOVE SOUNDGARDEN PULP LUSH MELODY MAKER 1994 SEPTEMBER 10 SHED SEVEN COURTNEY LOVE SOUNDGARDEN PULP LUSH USD $12.56 Buy It Now 1 day
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Melvins Cassette Unsane Cows Tad Soundgarden Tool Melvins Cassette Unsane Cows Tad Soundgarden Tool USD $19.99 (0 bids)
1 day
The Flaming Lips Drug Machine SIGNED! SP28 Sub Pop Nirvana Mudhoney Soundgarden The Flaming Lips Drug Machine SIGNED! SP28 Sub Pop Nirvana Mudhoney Soundgarden USD $34.90 Buy It Now 1 day
SOUNDGARDEN Spoonman LTD NOD QUALITY CD FRAMED DISPLAY+EXPRESS GLOBAL SHIP! SOUNDGARDEN Spoonman LTD NOD QUALITY CD FRAMED DISPLAY+EXPRESS GLOBAL SHIP! USD $69.76 Buy It Now 1 day
SOUNDGARDEN+Superunknown+Black+POSTER+AD+RARE+ORIG 1995+FRAMED+FASAT GLOBAL SHIP SOUNDGARDEN+Superunknown+Black+POSTER+AD+RARE+ORIG 1995+FRAMED+FASAT GLOBAL SHIP USD $97.70 Buy It Now 1 day
The Flaming Lips Drug Machine SP28 Sub Pop Nirvana Mudhoney Soundgarden TAD The Flaming Lips Drug Machine SP28 Sub Pop Nirvana Mudhoney Soundgarden TAD USD $32.11 Buy It Now 1 day
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SOUNDGARDEN Badmotorfinger CLASSIC CD QUALITY FRAMED!! SOUNDGARDEN Badmotorfinger CLASSIC CD QUALITY FRAMED!! USD $62.78 Buy It Now 1 day
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SOUNDGARDEN Outshined LTD NOD QUALITY CD FRAMED DISPLAY+EXPRESS GLOBAL SHIP! SOUNDGARDEN Outshined LTD NOD QUALITY CD FRAMED DISPLAY+EXPRESS GLOBAL SHIP! USD $69.76 Buy It Now 1 day
SOUNDGARDEN Black Hole Sun LTD Nod MUSIC FRAMED DISPLAY SOUNDGARDEN Black Hole Sun LTD Nod MUSIC FRAMED DISPLAY USD $69.76 Buy It Now 1 day
NME 1992 MAR 28 BLUR BEASTIE BOYS SOUNDGARDEN SUGARCUBE NME 1992 MAR 28 BLUR BEASTIE BOYS SOUNDGARDEN SUGARCUBE USD $12.56 Buy It Now 1 day
SOUNDGARDEN Jesus Christ Pose LTD QUALITY CD FRAMED DISPLAY+EXPRESS GLOBAL SHIP! SOUNDGARDEN Jesus Christ Pose LTD QUALITY CD FRAMED DISPLAY+EXPRESS GLOBAL SHIP! USD $69.76 Buy It Now 1 day
CHRIS CORNELL+SOUNDGARDEN Morning CLASSIC CD Album QUALITY FRAMED+GLOBAL SHIP CHRIS CORNELL+SOUNDGARDEN Morning CLASSIC CD Album QUALITY FRAMED+GLOBAL SHIP USD $62.78 Buy It Now 1 day
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SOUNDGARDEN Discography

SOUNDGARDEN albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.14 | 17 ratings
Ultramega OK
Alternative Metal 1988
.. Album Cover 3.62 | 21 ratings
Louder Than Love
Alternative Metal 1989
.. Album Cover 4.18 | 58 ratings
Badmotorfinger
Alternative Metal 1991
.. Album Cover 4.21 | 67 ratings
Superunknown
Hard Rock 1994
.. Album Cover 3.45 | 26 ratings
Down On The Upside
Hard Rock 1996
.. Album Cover 3.62 | 15 ratings
King Animal
Hard Rock 2012

SOUNDGARDEN EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Deep Six
Alternative Metal 1986
.. Album Cover 3.79 | 6 ratings
Screaming Life
Alternative Metal 1987
.. Album Cover 2.98 | 5 ratings
Fopp
Alternative Metal 1988
.. Album Cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Loudest Love
Alternative Metal 1990
.. Album Cover 3.50 | 2 ratings
SOMMS
Alternative Metal 1992
.. Album Cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Songs From The Superunknown
Hard Rock 1995
.. Album Cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Before The Doors: Live On I-5
Alternative Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
King Animal Demos
Hard Rock 2013
.. Album Cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas
Alternative Metal 2016

SOUNDGARDEN live albums

.. Album Cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
Louder Than Live
Alternative Metal 1990
.. Album Cover 2.57 | 4 ratings
Live On I-5
Alternative Metal 2011

SOUNDGARDEN demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

SOUNDGARDEN re-issues & compilations

.. Album Cover 3.79 | 7 ratings
Screaming Life / Fopp
Alternative Metal 1990
.. Album Cover 4.25 | 2 ratings
A-Sides
Alternative Metal 1997
.. Album Cover 3.22 | 6 ratings
Telephantasm
Alternative Metal 2010
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path - Originals
Alternative Metal 2014
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path - Covers
Alternative Metal 2014
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path - Oddities
Alternative Metal 2014

SOUNDGARDEN singles (24)

.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Hunted Down
Alternative Metal 1987
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Loud Love
Alternative Metal 1989
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Flower
Alternative Metal 1989
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Hands All Over
Alternative Metal 1990
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Room A Thousand Years Wide
Alternative Metal 1990
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Outshined
Alternative Metal 1991
.. Album Cover
3.50 | 2 ratings
Jesus Christ Pose
Alternative Metal 1991
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Rusty Cage
Alternative Metal 1992
.. Album Cover
3.27 | 3 ratings
Spoonman
Hard Rock 1994
.. Album Cover
2.07 | 2 ratings
The Day I Tried To Live
Hard Rock 1994
.. Album Cover
2.07 | 2 ratings
My Wave
Hard Rock 1994
.. Album Cover
2.25 | 3 ratings
Black Hole Sun
Hard Rock 1994
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Cold Bitch
Hard Rock 1994
.. Album Cover
2.10 | 2 ratings
Fell On Black Days
Hard Rock 1995
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Pretty Noose
Hard Rock 1996
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Blow Up The Outside World
Hard Rock 1996
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Burden In My Hand
Hard Rock 1996
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Ty Cobb
Hard Rock 1997
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Bleed Together
Alternative Metal 1997
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Black Rain
Alternative Metal 2010
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Telephantasm
Hard Rock 2010
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Live To Rise
Hard Rock 2012
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Been Away Too Long
Hard Rock 2012
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
By Crooked Steps
Hard Rock 2013

SOUNDGARDEN movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
4.00 | 2 ratings
Louder Than Live
Alternative Metal 1990
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Motorvision
Alternative Metal 1992
.. Album Cover
4.50 | 1 ratings
Telephantasm
Alternative Metal 2010

SOUNDGARDEN Reviews

SOUNDGARDEN Superunknown

Album · 1994 · Hard Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Necrotica
The death of Chris Cornell was a tragedy for many rock fans across the globe, but in my case, it was an especially devastating blow to the gut. On the day of his passing, nostalgic images suddenly rushed back to my mind. I recalled my time as a young teen back in California playing the classic Superunknown over and over again on the car stereo. Those hazy summers were the perfect time to listen to some sentimental alternative rock records, but Superunknown was truly unlike anything I’d heard before (or since). Suddenly, the sludgy and grimy world of grunge was colorful and expansive. Aggression married grandiosity, and the moments of punk rock fury were paired with moments you swear you’d hear as a funeral dirge. Then psychedelia, stoner metal, 70s classic rock, and even some progressive rock were piled on as icing on the cake. And now with Cornell’s suicide fresh in people’s minds, the dark atmosphere and frequent mood swings that define Superunknown seem even more real and relevant than ever.

Truth be told, calling Superunknown a grunge album is a massive oversimplification. The 70-minute behemoth is packed with so many shades and flavors of rock music that it’s tough to know where to even begin analyzing it. But I can say one thing right off the bat: as great as the individual songs are, this album is best heard as the entire experience. It may be long, but trust me, it doesn’t feel that long despite how draining it is. There’s an overarching sadness to the record, but the emotional contrasts can add a layer of deception. For instance, “The Day I Tried to Live,” with its hopeful title and relatively upbeat (if a bit off-kilter) riff suggest an optimistic message, but the lyrics tell a different story altogether. Cornell’s charisma on the mic shines through, yes, but the transformation of imagery in the first verse is bizarre and even jaw-dropping. It goes from “seize the day” to “watch the rolling heads” in a matter of seconds, and yet Kim Thayil’s fantastic guitar leads continue to drive the piece along. Other songs bring on the aggression like a parade of bulls, such as the energetic punk jam “Kickstand” or the tight Drop-D riffing found in opener “Let Me Drown.”

But it’s the slower numbers that truly bring out the best in Superunknown. Whereas 90s grunge peers Alice in Chains would use doom metal to create a feeling of horror or sickness, Soundgarden brought the style to more grand and deeply profound places. “Black Hole Sun” sounds almost mystical in the way Thayil’s dreamlike guitar leads blend with the down-to-earth and even minimalist rhythm section, as if some spiritual being is being anchored and weighed down by reality. It’s wonderful that the band could maintain melodic sensibilities while at their darkest, which turned out to be one of their defining traits. The same goes for the closer “Like Suicide,” a song that’s recognizable by an unsettlingly cheery guitar melody while Cornell is singing about smashing a bird with a brick to end its suffering. The subject matter on Superunknown is portrayed and expressed with so much personality, even it reaches its darkest moments. Perhaps the most gloomy and deeply uncomfortable song on here is “4th of July,” a song that fully embraces the most grim and distraught aspects of grunge music and puts them on full display. The slow tread of the riff sounds like you’re watching a portrait slowly decay and melt with time, and the distortion is so thick that it puts many sludge metal bands to shame. Add to that a heavy Drop-C tuning on the guitars and the whole experience is a sound to behold.

The band members are simply fantastic here, no one truly being a weak link. I’ve already touched on Chris Cornell and Kim Thayil a bit, but bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron deserve their share of praise as well. These guys had so many diverse sounds and knotty time signatures to work through, and they somehow made it sound as natural as any of the other grunge bands at the time who were always playing in 4/4. For the best showing of Cameron’s talents, I highly recommend his amazing performance in the rhythmically complex “Spoonman,” in which he has an inventive drum solo alongside somebody literally tapping spoons (known as Artis the Spoonman!). “Limo Wreck” is also great, if you want to hear how creatively he works around slower tempos. For Ben Shepherd, my favorite moment would be his incredible chemistry with Chris Cornell on the main riff of “Mailman,” an octave-hopping affair with a dreary and somewhat bluesy motif. He also kicks ass on the title track and “Kickstand,” which exhibit his (and Matt Cameron’s) speed and precision more than usual. Every member brings a great level of personality and chemistry to these tunes, and Chris Cornell’s vocal performances here are among the best he’s ever recorded. Just listen to those soaring verses in the title track, as well as those beautifully subdued moments in “4th of July”! Truly a legend.

But it’s truly heartbreaking to see him gone, as well as the fact that we probably won’t get another Soundgarden record ever again. The grunge legends of the 90s seem to be slowly dying out, and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is now officially the last of the Big 4 frontmen to still be alive and kicking (unless you count Jerry Cantrell). But much like Alice in Chains, Soundgarden were significant in the fact that they were able to be a bridge between grunge and other genres, especially metal. The band’s style wasn’t just black and white, but allowed to have breathing room and a wealth of diversity in the middle. Simply put, they were an incredible rock band with a distinct style, and Superunknown is their crowning achievement.

SOUNDGARDEN Ultramega OK

Album · 1988 · Alternative Metal
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Unitron
"All your fears are lies"

The late 80's were one of the best times for metal in my book. Thrash Metal was at it's height, and the grunge, stoner rock/metal, and death metal scenes were all kicking off. The metal scene in Washington birthed many now classic bands, with one of those bands being Soundgarden, one of the greatest metal acts of the late 80's and early 90's, and of all time. After contributing to the Deep Six compilation (which also featured grunge/sludge metal pioneers Melvins) and releasing the Screaming Life EP in '87, the band unleashed their debut studio album in 1988.

Unlike most metal bands of the late 80's, Soundgarden had zero elements of thrash or the hair bands, and instead contributed to the slowly growing doom/stoner/sludge metal genres birthed all those years ago by Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer. Soundgarden featured the fuzzy distortion of old school psychedelic rock, the dark crushing riffs of Black Sabbath and Budgie, the attitude of The Stooges, and the screaming siren of vocalist Chris Cornell that was reminiscent of 70's classic rock vocalists such as Robert Plant and Burton Cummings.

UltramegaOK is a raw, rough, rockin', and varied debut. It really takes all of the band's influences together, and makes each song stand out with it's own sound. The album opens right up with the groovy rockers "Flower" and "All Your Lies", which are among the band's best early cuts. The former has one of Kim Thayil's grooviest hooks, rumbling bass from original bassist Hiro Yamamoto, Matt Cameron's always tight drumming, and Chris Cornell's beautiful melodies. The band was already in top form on this first record. "Beyond the Wheel" and "Incessant Mace" are pure doom metal, and absolute favorites of mine and classics of the genre. The former is a haunting dirge with some of Cornell's most spine-chilling screams, and the latter song's crushingly heavy riffs sound straight from the riff master himself, Tony Iommi.

"He Didn't" has a main swirling riff that is quite reminiscent of the ominous theme song of The Twilight Zone, which fits perfectly in a metal setting. The band brings it to a speed metal pace with the shredding "Nazi Driver" and "Head Injury", with the latter being a bit punky. Both tracks have absolutely groovin' bass runs, rampaging razor-sharp guitar riffs, and Cornell's raw siren screams dominating those and most of the album. Soundgarden has done many amazing cover tunes, and this album's cover of the blues classic by Howlin' Wolf, "Smokestack Lightning", is no exception. It's a masterpiece of soulful blues metal, with Thayil delivering metallic blues riffs with much conviction and Cornell really shows his amazing vocal range here. He goes from a bluesy croon throughout most of the song to high-pitched screams that rival Rob Halford's vocals on the early Judas Priest albums.

You may be wondering what's with the weird album name, and it partly has to do with the production. The band didn't think the production turned out all that well, hence the name UltramegaOK. I personally have no issue with the production, I think it fits perfectly fine with the raw and dirty heavy metal that this album displays. The album was remastered though, so even if it does bother you, it sounds a bit cleaner on the 2017 remaster.

Even on their first studio album, Soundgarden made a masterpiece. There are a couple of minor issues, those being the short interludes that just act as a few minutes of filler. "Circle of Power", which is a more hardcore punk-sounding track with Yamamoto on vocals, kind of breaks the flow a bit but it's still a good song that sits in okay with the variety of the album. If you're a fan of old school 70's metal, classic blues rock, grunge, or doom/stoner metal, do yourself a favor and check this album out. It's a near perfect album that deserves more attention. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!

SOUNDGARDEN Down On The Upside

Album · 1996 · Hard Rock
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siLLy puPPy
It goes without saying that no matter how hard a band tries to pretend that success doesn’t change the equation in their methodology of creating music, the pressures that exert themselves from every possible vector take their toll even on the most dedicated stalwart lovers of indie music blossoming from the grassroots movements of the underground scene. SOUNDGARDEN found this out rather quickly after their phenomenally successfully “Superunknown” album that made them one of the most successful bands of the entire 90s. After several years of touring they finally released their followup DOWN ON THE UPSIDE two years later. Due to the success that led to the freedom of the band exploring their own inclinations, they decided to self-produce the album and delve into ever more experimental realms with most tracks having been written by Chris Cornell and bassist Ben Shepherd rather than a full-on collaborative effort. Because of this musical domination leaving guitarist Kim Thayil out of the mix, this imbalance of creative power led to a less heavy album that focused on Cornell’s vocal range rather than the heavy grungy riffs that dominated “Superunknown.” As most fans of the band agree, this was a mixed blessing with some tracks shining like a diamond in the middle of the sun and others sucking so bad that they in effect become a musical blackhole sun that unfortunately lacked the musical mojo to wash the rain away.

Despite it all, SOUNDGARDEN created a unique followup to their huge success and although it would have been easy to simply create a “Superunknown Part 2”, they sallied forth undeterred to take the bull by the horns and simply crank out music that they were interested in with decidedly mixed results. The album starts off with a fiery blast as “Pretty Noose” starts things off with a catchy echoey riff that bursts into a classic SOUNDGARDEN heavy riffage that not only delivers their expect one two punch of heavy grunge guitar and catchy vocalized melodies by swooner-in-chief Chris Cornell but also offers a sophisticated song structure that sounds like the band is well on their way to progressive pastures (had they stuck it out.) But then as the second track “Rhinosaur” kicks in it becomes apparent that the band was aiming for a more diverse range on the musical spectrum as it pumps out an easily digestible stair step guitar riff in a dropped-D tuning. The most authentic grunge track on the album in fact. “Zero Chance” changes it up completely with an angular slow arpeggiated guitar riff that delivers a very Pearl Jam on acid type of vibe. “Dusty” jumps back into familiar “Superunknown” sound but with less conviction and in a more laid back fashion. Still though quite an addictive song structure showcasing Cornell’s ability to leap vocal octaves with ease.

The ball busting rocker “Ty Cobb” about the powerhouse baseball star (nicknamed The Georgia Peach and was one of the hugest plays of the early 20th century), misleads with a completely folky beginning but quickly blows the house down with a punk metal riff accompanied by a mandola and mandolin folk a section. This is one of my faves followed by the best track on the album: “Blow Up The Outside World.” This is the “Black Hole Sun” of DOWN ON THE UPSIDE with sophisticated chord progressions, multi-octave vocal leaps and dynamics that begin with an echoey depressive beginning that alternates with a more familiar hard rockin’ chorus. Next up is the outstanding “Burden In My Hand,” a hotly debated track (in actually meaning) about a man who (supposedly) murders his girlfriend and leaves her in the desert to rot. Yeah, you thought it was about masturbation, didn’t you? LOL. The open C tuning allows the chord progressions to flow unthinkably perfect and allow Cornell’s vocals to modulate in uncanny perfection. One of the top melodies on the album and completely written by Cornell.

While none of the other tracks can compete with the first seven, “Never Named” and the only track snuck in by Thayil “Never The Machine Forever” display more of the classic heaviness of previous SOUNDGARDEN releases. “Applebite” is strange hypnotic bass oriented groovy piece that could be mistaken for post-rock actually. The rest of the tracks are, ho hum, and fairly weak. The division of musical quality is abundantly clear and after many, many listens to DOWN ON THE UPSIDE, one thing has remained constant. That being that i always listen to the first 10 tracks and then try to go on further and then by the 12th or 13th always switch it off. Afterwards, the ear worms for the first seven resonate for days while any others never stick with me and while some are worth listening to, the last six are complete musical mediocrity in my world.

THE DOWNSIDE

A perfect album these ain’t. No doubts. So if i could wave a magic wand of sorts there are several things i could do to make this a much better album. First of all tracks 11 - 16 should just be scrapped entirely. Not that they are horrible or anything but because they sound like generic SOUNDGARDEN by the numbers and remind me of those innocuous sort of tracks that you would hear at a small music venue from the house stereo system before the bands start to play. You know, the grunge version of library music that is perfectly suitable for background noise but never something that makes you stop the conversation to focus upon. Secondly, shift around some other tracks so that the album ends with a catchy crunchy rocker instead of the dreamy drifters like “Applebite.” “Ty Cobb” would be perfect since it has the perfect hard rock attitude with all that business of “fucking ya up” an all. Thirdly they should have really added a couple more really, really strong tracks that connected this one to their previous output. This album is a victim of getting too experimental for the fanbase’s comfort zone. DOWN ON THE UPSIDE really feels like it was partially constructed during the fertile heyday sessions of “Superunknown” with the remaining tracks being squeezed out of the band by record company pressures. The album begins brilliantly and fizzles out at the end and in retrospect perfectly illuminates the state of affairs that the band was experiencing as tensions were quickly putting an end to any possible future.

THE UPSIDE

Taken as it is i still have to give this album 4 stars but with an explanation, of course! since this isn’t my “normal” type of four star album. That means it’s excellent but in a lopsided way. I simply find the first seven tracks to be some of the best tracks of SOUNDGARDEN’s career equal to the high quality of “Superunknown.” So they are all five stars. Many of the other tracks like “Never Named,” “Applebite” and “Never The Machine Forever” are actually really good tracks but should have been placed in more flattering places between tracks. The rest are OK but unassuming generic tracks that if they had been released as demos wouldn’t have even gotten them a recording contract and more likely thrown in the rubbish bin. Luckily you can simply listen up to track 10 or so and push stop. That’s what i’ve always done and this easy to replicate technique has helped me enjoy this album immensely. DOWN ON THE UPSIDE will surely never be SOUNDGARDEN’s swan song magnum opus but it really does deserve the time of day to delve into deeper. While grunge was mostly catering to instant gratification, there are a few exceptions that require a slightly more rigorous musical appreciation ritual. This being near the top of the list.

CONCLUSION

This album has some of the BEST songs that SOUNDGARDEN ever wrote!

This album has some of the WORST songs that SOUNDGARDEN ever wrote!

This album proves why having a producer can be a good thing since a diplomat at a power struggle table can only help steer the band in the right direction!

This album proves that NOT having a producer can be a good thing as it allows the band to unfurl every whimsy they can think up letting the brilliant coincide with the festering fecal matter!

This album is one of the classic examples of a mixed bag but i deem it essential for the brilliant strong tracks that totally eclipse any of the crap that ends it!

Therefore i deem this one a very unorthodox 4 star album and one that should NOT be skipped although experienced with an open mind with no expectations of a repeat of past offerings :)

SOUNDGARDEN Superunknown

Album · 1994 · Hard Rock
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siLLy puPPy
As another fallen hero joins the ranks of the many others who checked out far too soon, it’s time to dust off one of my favorite albums from the 90s and revisit to pay homage to the great Chris Cornell who possessed one of the greatest sets of vocal chords in all of rock history much less the alternative 90s where he and SOUNDGARDEN dominated for a few short years before their own demise as a band. As the 80s had reached the tipping point into the 90s the alternative rock and metal worlds were quickly gaining momentum but SOUNDGARDEN had had a head start forming all the way back in 1984, giving them a full decade of honing their chops to become one of the biggest bands of the alternative era and with their fourth album SUPERUNKNOWN they hit payday and not only created one of the most commercially successful artifacts that the 90s had to offer but also created one of most perfected pieces of art all dressed up in grunge and metal that still sounds as stunning today as it did when it hit #1 on the Billboard charts and became certified platinum five times over.

While Chris Cornell and company had been active for a decade, they had slowly built momentum and gained a lot of recognition as a part of the famous Lallpalooza festival started by Jane’s Addiction and by the time they released “Badmotorfinger” they had quite the substantial following, however nothing would prepare them for the success of SUPERUNKNOWN which joins the ranks of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and Alice In Chains’ “Dirt” as one of the most successful grunge albums of the 90s. However, despite the similarities that SOUNDGARDEN shared with other grunge artists of the era, they were quite a bit different in many ways and were what i deem to be the musician’s grunge band for they had a diversity and sophistication that absolutely no other could match. SUPERUNKNOWN is where all their stars aligned and displays their sound at its pinnacle and as far as i’m concerned the ONLY album of theirs that is perfect from beginning to end without a shred of filler which all their other albums unfortunately suffered from.

The 90s was somewhat polarizing as 80s metal lovers resented the onslaught of the filthy grunge acts slaying their icons into the uncool bin but SOUNDGARDEN was much smarter than the average bear and was one of the few grunge acts who successfully won over both crowds by keeping their core metal values developed in the 80s in tact and fluffing them up with the newest grunge technology. Once again, a testament to their decade run ahead of pack developing their alternative sound and taking the Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath elements to a new level. SOUNDGARDEN gained a huge following solely by the sophistication of the compositions which when compared to the likes of their contemporaries were on an entire different playing field. While sonically disguised as punk laden pop rock songs with one catchy hook after another, the tracks differed significantly from each other and much of this was taken right out of the Beatles playbook by employing alternative tunings for most of the tracks and even adding progressive touches with unthinkable time signatures like 15/8 (“Limo Wreck”), 5/4 (“My Wave”), 7/4 (parts of “Spoonman”) and the touched by God track “Black Hole Sun” which alternated between 4/4 and 9/8, a song so utterly brilliant that i still get shivers when i listen to its perfection (not to mention that cooler than fuck video!) Not to mention other influences like the Middle Eastern vibes on “Half.”

While lyrically the album deals with everything dark and depressive under the moon as it tackles drug abuse, suicide, death and alienation and perhaps could be deemed a lighter fluffier version of the death, black and doom metal emerging at the same time, it never feels like a jump-off-the-cliff-after-slashing-your-wrists-with-a-razor-blad type of album as the musical hooks are just so feel good and the band’s instrumental and experimental formula gels so cohesively, not to mention Chris Cornell’s smooth-tongued vocals suavely polishing every distorted grungy riff they soar around. This is simply one of those albums that i played to death at one time and then like many others, my tastes broadened, my musical tentacles expanded and sampled and digested a gazillion other styles of music but as i revisit this monumental musical experience in my life again in memorial of one of the great vocalists who passed on far too soon, i am once again awestruck with SUPERUNKNOWN and experiencing it like i did for the first time. Not too many times you get to lose your virginity twice in life! Masterpiece of the ages!

SOUNDGARDEN Screaming Life / Fopp

Boxset / Compilation · 1990 · Alternative Metal
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siLLy puPPy
This is a compilation of the first two Eps namely SCREAMING LIFE and FOPP. A great way to get both as a twofer. Check out my reviews for each separately.

SOUNDGARDEN – Screaming Life 1987 4 stars

SOUNDGARDEN was certainly ahead of the grunge game. Although a scant few bands like Green River and U-Men are credited as being the first grungers, it is safe to say that of the most popular ones SOUNDGARDEN was far ahead of the pack when their first release SCREAMING LIFE came out in 1987. Although this is only an EP it is a great start for the band. They already had their sound pretty much in tact although Chris Cornell has a much more diverse vocal style on this album. In fact he sounds a little like Robert Plant in his vocal approach with his high pitched wails. The rest of the band has a tight yet loosy goosy jam type sound as well.

At this point the band still had Hiro Yamamoto on bass and his doomy bass lines with Cornell's Zeppelin vocals really tapped into a new hybrid metal sound hitherto not successfully executed. The six songs on this EP are all quite good and although I have been a SOUNDGARDEN fan for quite a long time, I have only recently picked up the first two EP's in the form the twofer SCREAMING LIFE / FOPP compilation. Dirty and raw, grunge yet alternative metal at this point finds SOUNDGARDEN sounding more aggressive and creative in their sound than on many of their later albums. Not a bad place to start but since everyone has probably heard the later albums first then you will probably be like me in discovering their origins after the fact. Never too late and yes do check this out. It's much better than I could have imagined.

SOUNDGARDEN – Fopp 1988 2.5 stars

While I was quite taken by the debut EP by SOUNDGARDEN “Screaming Life” I cannot say the same for their second EP release FOPP. While this album displays a more familiar sound that would be quite recognizable the fact is the song quality and spontaneity of the debut is clearly missing here. The title track which appears twice, once as a standard grunge song and another as an ok-ish but not outstanding remix is fairly uninspiring. They are kind of funky and really sound kind of stupid after a very diverse and interesting debut.

This was probably a move to make the sound a bit more accessible but at this point they hadn't quite developed their trademark sound to the point of “Badmotorfinger” and beyond but left behind the very innovative sound that was present on the debut. Not a horrible album but probably the worst in their discography. I really like the remake of Greenriver's “Swallow My Pride” which sounds the most like the future SOUNDGARDEN but the FOPP songs are lackluster. A disappointing followup which is best attained on the twofer album SCREAMING LIFE / FOPP compilation.

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