Soundgarden
King Animal


4.5
superb

Review

by Peter K. Mark USER (14 Reviews)
November 6th, 2012 | 192 replies | 52,391 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 'King Animal' is a modern take on vintage rock and a natural progression for Soundgarden, rather than a fancy comeback album.

31 of 32 thought this review was well written

It's difficult to write an objective review when your favorite band returns with an album after 16 years of absence and it sounds this good. To make it perfectly clear, King Animal is not a throwback to past glory. It's not 'Superunknown', nor is it trying to get anywhere close to that even if it could. King Animal is a natural progression from 'Down on the Upside' and is not a drastic change in direction. It combines various elements from the band's previous albums while adding a few extra layers on top.

Everything that Soundgarden have been known for has returned. The odd time signatures and excellent drumming are back. By Crooked Steps is basically a jackhammer single riff with Matt Cameron pummeling those drums at random until you don't even realize what's going on. The same goes for A Thousand Days Before, an instant psychedelic classic in the form of Zeppelin, that dictates an odd tempo and features plenty of twists and turns. To serve as a beautiful contrast, the ferocious Blood on the Valley Floor recalls heavy and sludgy riffs in the style of Mailman that lead into a trippy chorus: And the smoke lies on the valley floor as the blood dries while we spill some more.

The moody and melancholic Taree sounds like it's ripped straight from the 90s, while the dark punk driven Attrition resembles a more focused 'Kickstand' with Mark Lanegan-style vocals: "On the cliffs over stormy waves, can't decide to climb or drown"

King Animal also has a few slower gems in its inventory. The acoustic Black Saturday sounds a lot like Alice in Chains mixed with late Zeppelin material. The sludgy chorus takes it back to Soundgarden territory though, as Chris sings Promise me you'll kill me right away if I start to get slow. Chris also pulls out a bit of solo material in Halfway There, a little mix of Euphoria Morning and Carry On (unfortunately). Initially, the song doesn't seem to fit on this album but after a few listens you will notice that it's a much needed track after and before the riff bombs and killer drumming that patiently wait for you in Worse Dreams. The song draws a groovy bass intro in the style of The Doors, but as soon as it gets to the chorus and solo, it's pure Soundgarden. A dog reference is inevitable, of course.

There is one song on the record that mixes every possible sound that characterizes the band: Eyelid's Mouth. It goes back to Badmotorfinger's 'Mind Riot' with a trippy guitar lick dominating the first verse. A bluesy chorus follows with a completely different second verse incorporating "An Unkind" style heavily reverbed vocals. Kim Thayil's solo melts your face as the song fades out.

Can't see the sky, nothing's on the horizon/Can't feel my hands, as the water keeps rising as Chris Cornell drowns in the Tom Waits inspired Rowing. It's another example of pure experimentation. Sounds fresh and nothing like any other song by this band, yet it has that certain Soundgarden vibe once it builds up to an explosive riff. The song ends with a huge solo accompanied by a stunning Cornell falsetto as he "keeps on rowing". It's at this point where he erases any doubts that he can still belt a high note like no one else.

'King Animal' sounds like what Soundgarden should sound like. It's a modern take on vintage rock, resurrecting the likes of Zeppelin, Sabbath and The Doors. More importantly, the solid musicianship, the creativity and the energy of their youth is still there. Chris Cornell may not be able to belt those high notes like in the 90s, but halfway through the album you won't even care. It's the presence of their unmistakable signature sound that will shock you. It's still there and it still blows your mind to bits. Soundgarden haven't lost a step. They kept on rowing.



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    donovan909 (3)
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    Jamie Coughlan (4)
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    Soundknight (4.5)
    ...

  • Travis Marmon (4)
    Though not a classic, Soundgarden have produced a surprisingly solid comeback...

    Limberg (4.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
FCY
November 6th 2012



142 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The official stream is here:

http://www.nme.com/blog/index.php?blog=1&title=soundgarden_king_animal_album_stream

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2012



3160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You should correct the mistake in the third paragraph, the lyrics you tried to put into italics.

The music is great, but I can't stand Chris' voice on many songs (this is a problem I have with earlier records too)

Digging: Chevelle - La Gargola

FCY
November 6th 2012



142 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, I understand how the vocals can be a problem. Nothing he can do about it though, he messed his voice up in 97 already.

Sapient.
November 6th 2012



1109 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

great review. this album was a pleasant surprise for sure, rules

Cipieron
November 6th 2012



3508 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

vocals sound good to me

sure he doesn't sound like he use to, but fuck if he's still not one of the best out there

Sapient.
November 6th 2012



1109 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

theres gonna be people who are gonna bitch that it doesn't sound as heavy as badmotorfinger or even superunknown, but fuck it, its still tasty.

and chris did good with what he has left, certainly sounds better here than some of their reunion performances

greg84
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2012



7162 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Good review. I'll give it a spin for sure.

Digging: Floor - Oblation

xist
November 6th 2012



171 Comments


Best article i've read about Cornell's voice -
http://www.dallasobserver.com/2000-03-02/music/chris-cornell/

CaptainDooRight
November 6th 2012



26444 Comments


dude i may check this, pos on rev

Digging: Deniro Farrar - The Patriarch II

truekebabpower
November 6th 2012



639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this deffinitely doesn't top the last 3 albums and overall I find it good but not excellent, the only song that grips me is Bones of Birds. The songs just don't seem as emotional to me or catchy for that matter and they've lost some of their gloom it seems. Cameron doesn't dissappoint though.

So I don't really agree on some of the points you've made and I'd wish you'd focus less on the technical aspects of the music, but the descriptions were spot on so I really can't complain. pos

MrElmo
November 6th 2012



1950 Comments


Great review, I'll go listen to the stream

FCY
November 6th 2012



142 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, everyone.

@truekebabpower: I thought the same after two or three listens as well, but you really need a few more to appreciate the music. There's a lot going on in the background. For me it's better than DOTU, nowhere near to SU or BMF though.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2012



5612 Comments


Must check this asap.-

Digging: Mekong Delta - In A Mirror Darkly

Sapient.
November 6th 2012



1109 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

it's definitely better than DOTU. that album didn't feel very focused imo

FCY
November 6th 2012



142 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm pretty sure it's the album Soundgarden would've written after DOTU if they hadn't broken up. It gets so much better after each listen.

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
November 6th 2012



19527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

wtf i didnt even know this was coming out, gotta check it. great review btw

Digging: Cult Leader - Nothing for Us Here

truekebabpower
November 6th 2012



639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree DOTU was a bit unfocused, but it was an amazing and intriguing album, I hope I feel the same about this album after a few listens

H61
November 6th 2012



270 Comments


Definitely not better than DOTU

Danyll
November 6th 2012



17 Comments


Great review; couldn't agree more.

YoYoMancuso
November 6th 2012



10140 Comments


just listened 3 times straight.

blew me away. a lot better than i expected, i was expecting a high 3.5 but got a VERY high 4.

Digging: The Wonder Years - The Greatest Generation



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