Review Summary: Soundgarden's first success that finally got them on a major label. Has some great tracks but in the long run can get somewhat boring. Definitly a good buy for grunge fans or Soundgarden faithful, and something different for others to listen to.
Soundgarden is an extremely successful grunge band right out of Seattle, where else. The group contains a foursome of great talent. On vocals Chris Cornell sports his signature gutsy high pitched wail that could make your ears bleed….in a good way. Guitarist Kim Thayil matches Cornell with guitar riffs that screech just as high. Hiro Yamamoto throws down metal type bass lines that add a heavy backbone to Soundgarden’s sound. Original drummer Scott Sundquist was replaced in 1986 by Matt Cameron. Cameron is a drummer that pounds away, and his hard drumming matches the hard rock feel of this album. This lineup gained some momentum through club performances, and that got them singing on with a famous indie label in Seattle known as Sub Pop in 1987. Later that year Soundgarden released their first EP “Screaming Life”, which got Soundgarden even more underground rep, and gained some attention from major labels. 1988 brought two more releases including another EP “FOPP” and the group’s first full length album “Ultramega OK”. This brings us to the current time of the album that I will focus on, which is none other than “Louder than Love”. “Louder than Love” was released in 1989, and on a major label known as A&M records. “Louder then Love” was at the time Soundgarden’s biggest hit, bagging them a Grammy and reaching 108th on the charts.
“Louder than Love” is an earlier Soundgarden release, and has some characteristics of early Soundgarden too. It’s almost like a watered down metal type of sound, with hard rock bass riffs, and screeching frenzied guitar play. Cornell’s unique vocals make Soundgarden’s sound different and special. What’s nice about this album is the catchiness and heaviness of guitar and bass riffs throughout, humorous song topics (“Big Dumb Sex” being a frontrunner for that with “Full on Kevin’s Mom” close behind), Cornell’s usual high pitched wails, and cleverly placed rhythm singing on some songs. With all those positives “Louder than Love” fails in comparison to some of Soungarden’s other works, yet is still great for Soundgarden earlier in their career.
Highlights of the album
“Hands all over” the second track on “Louder than Love”, starts off with some distortion, and then has a simply amazing, catchy bass line, along with a quick hard drum beat. Yamamoto shows off more in this song, with a constant contribution that stands out more than usual. His quick, relentless, choppy riffs throughout the verses of the song are good enough, but then he goes back to that bass line that is played during the intro which makes his presence way more than heard in “Hands all over”. Another great track on the album is “Gun” which happens to be the very next track after “Hands all over”. “Gun” begins with a very heavy combination of sludgy bass and guitar riffs that continue to grow in speed throughout. In the second verse the song becomes very faced paced with a bellowing combination of bass and guitar, then expands into Cornell yelling “F**K IT UP!” After which a guitar solo takes places with lightning speed bass play in the background. With about a minute left the sludge-like speed is repeated from the intro, including Cameron slamming with proficiency throughout.
The sixth track “Full on Kevin’s Mom” is another highlight from this album. With hilarious lyrics, this song is instrumentally sound enough to be a great track. Drastically speedy and wailing guitar riffs blast throughout the song like a powerful locomotive. A steady, faced paced bass line backs up the guitar with a quick catchiness to it. All throughout Cornell repeats “Full on kev’s mom”. Thayil even adds some solos in the song, along with random spots of distortion. Immediately following “Full on Kevin’s Mom” comes in “Loud Love”, which is easily one of my favorites on “Louder then Love” and Soundgarden in general. A nice, catchy, soft, guitar intro sets the mood of the song, along with sticking to your head. Then following it a steady, speedy bass line comes in. Throughout the song a faced pace beat stays constant, but guitar and bass riffs pick up during the chorus, with Cornell yelling. Thayil laces another guitar solo in this song towards the end, and then goes through a nice transition into the chorus once again.
The next song that really stands out is the eleventh track “Big Dumb Sex”. Just the title is saying something, but once you listen to the song you know its something different. A frenzied, almost sloppy guitar intro turns into a fast paced beat that stays the same throughout. Some rhythm singing also has a big contribution in this song; it adds a more strange sound to the song. With a mix of Cornell’s high voice, and a low, deep voice in the background sets an eerie tone. The lyrics are humorous at worst and hilarious at best. “Big Dumb Sex” is known more for lyrics, and vocals, and instrumentally doesn’t wow you much. Despite that it’s a catchy song, and one of the better ones on “Louder than Love”.
“Louder than Love” is overall a great album, not amazing, but a great album. For grunge fans this is a must pick up, and for Soundgarden fans this release will not disappoint. It does have some key differences with “Superunknown”, so those who only have that album this would be a different side of Soundgarden to check out. Cornell’s voice for one is not as developed in this album, and can sound sloppy and out of place at times. This album has the same overall sound throughout, but doesn’t get very repetitive. It has its numerous high points, but does have some negative qualities.
Members of Soundgarden when “Louder than Love” was released include:
Chris Cornell- Vocals
Kim Thayil- Guitar
Hiro Yamamoto- Bass
Matt Cameron- Drums
-Not many bad tracks
-A hard rock to metal album that comes close to Soundgarden’s heaviest
-Catchy guitar and bass riffs throughout
-A different style of Soundgarden than just “Superunknown”
-Cornell’s vocals are not yet as crisp and developed
-Can get boring at some points
-An earlier release so instrumental play is not yet as good