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Soundgarden

Soundgarden made a place for heavy metal in alternative rock. Their fellow Seattle rockers Green River may have spearheadedthegrungesound, butthey relied on noise rock in the vein of the Stooges. Similarly, Jane's Addiction were too fascinated withprog rockandperformance art to appeal to awide array of metal fans. Soundgarden, however, developed directly out of thegrandiose blues-rock ofLedZeppelin and the sludgy, slow riffs of BlackSabbath. Which isn't to say they were a straight-aheadmetal band. Soundgarden borrowedtheD.I.Y. aesthetics of punk, melding their guitar-drivensound with an intell ...read more

Soundgarden made a place for heavy metal in alternative rock. Their fellow Seattle rockers Green River may have spearheadedthegrungesound, butthey relied on noise rock in the vein of the Stooges. Similarly, Jane's Addiction were too fascinated withprog rockandperformance art to appeal to awide array of metal fans. Soundgarden, however, developed directly out of thegrandiose blues-rock ofLedZeppelin and the sludgy, slow riffs of BlackSabbath. Which isn't to say they were a straight-aheadmetal band. Soundgarden borrowedtheD.I.Y. aesthetics of punk, melding their guitar-drivensound with an intelligence andironic sense of humor that was indebted to theAmericanunderground of the mid-'80s. Furthermore, the band rarelylimiteditself to simple, pounding riffs, often making detours intopsychedelia. Butthe group's key sonic signatures -- the gutsy wail ofvocalist ChrisCornell and the winding riffs of guitarist Kim Thayil -- werewhat broughtthem out of the underground. Not onlywere they one of the first groups torecord for the legendary Seattle indie Sub Pop, butthey were thefirst grunge band to signto a major label. In fact, most critics expected Soundgardento be the band that broke down the doorsforalternative rock, notNirvana. However, the group didn't experience an across-the-board success until1994, when Superunknown becameanumberone hit. For a band so heavily identified with the Seattle scene, it's ironic that two of its founding members were from the Midwest. KimThayil(guitar),HiroYamamoto (bass), and Bruce Pavitt were all friends in Illinois who decided to head to Olympia, Washington,to attend collegeafter highschoolgraduation in 1981. Though none of them completed college, all of them became involved inthe Washington undergroundmusic scene.Pavitt was theonly one who didn't play -- he founded a fanzine that later becamethe Sub Pop record label. Yamamoto played inseveral coverbands before forming aband in 1984 with his roommate ChrisCornell (vocals), a Seattle native who had previously playeddrums in severalbands. Thayil soon joined the duoand the groupnamed itself Soundgarden after a local Seattle sculpture. Scott Sundquistwas originally theband's drummer, but he wasreplaced by MattCameron in 1986. Over the next two years, Soundgarden gradually built up adevoted cultfollowing throughtheir club performances. Pavitt signed Soundgarden to his fledgling Sub Pop label in the summer of 1987, releasing the single "Hunted Down" before theEPScreamingLifeappeared later in the year. Screaming Life and the group's second EP, 1988's FOPP, became underground hitsand earned theattention ofseveral major-labels. The band decided to sign to SST instead of a major, releasing Ultramega OKby the end of 1988. UltramegaOKreceived strong reviews amongalternative and metal publications, and the group decided tomake the leap to a major for its nextalbum,1989's Louder Than Love. Released on A&MRecords, Louder Than Love became aword-of-mouth hit, earning positive reviewsfrommainstream publications, peaking at 108 on the charts, andearning aGrammy nomination. Following the album's fall 1989release,Yamamoto left the band to return to school. Jason Everman, aformer guitaristfor Nirvana, briefly played with the band before BenShepherdjoined in early 1990. Soundgarden's third album, 1991's Badmotorfinger, was heavily anticipated by many industry observers as a potentialbreakout hit. Thoughitwas asignificant hit, reaching number 39 on the album charts, its success was overshadowed by thesurprise success of Nirvana'sNevermind,which wasreleased the same month as Badmotorfinger. Prior to Nevermind,Soundgarden had been marketed by A&M as a metalband, and thegroup had agreedto support Guns N' Roses on the fall 1991Lose Your Illusion tour. While the tour did help sales, Soundgardenbenefitedprimarily from the grungeexplosion, whose mediaattention helped turn the band into stars. The band was also helped by the TopTen successof Temple of the Dog, a tributetodeceased Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood that Cornell and Cameron recorded withmembers of PearlJam. By the spring release of 1994's Superunknown, Soundgarden's following had grown considerably, which meant that the albumdebutedatnumber oneupon its release. (A year before its release, Shepherd and Cameron released an eponymous album bytheir side project,Hater.)Superunknown becameone of the most popular records of 1994, generating a genuine crossover hitwith "Black Hole Sun," selling overthreemillion copies and earning twoGrammys. Soundgarden returned in 1996 with Down onthe Upside, which entered the charts at numbertwo.Despite the record's strong initial sales, itfailed to generate a big hit, andwas hurt by grunge's fading popularity. Soundgarden retainedasizable audience -- the album did go platinum, andthey wereco-headliners on the sixth Lollapalooza -- but they didn't replicatetheblockbuster success of Superunknown. After completingan Americantour following Lollapalooza that was plagued by rumors ofinternalfighting, Soundgarden announced that theywere breaking up on April 9, 1997, topursue other interests. During the late '90s and 2000s, each member kept very busy. Cornell released three solo albums, also recording and touringasAudioslavewith formermembers of Rage Against the Machine. Cameron toured his Wellwater Conspiracy project, and alsoplayed andrecorded withSmashing Pumpkins andPearl Jam. Thayil collaborated with a wide range of artists, includingCameron, Dave Grohl, Steve Fisk,and Boris.Meanwhile, Shepherd helped out withWellwater Conspiracy, and also played andrecorded with Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees.Finally, in2010, the band announced a reunion with a fewlive shows duringthe summer (including that year's edition of Lollapalooza) whichpreceded acompilation, Telephantasm, in the fall.Telephantasm wasinitially available as a double-disc set on September 28, with a single-discversionappearing a week later(the single-disc was also included in GuitarHero on September 28). In 2011, Soundgarden released their firstlivealbum, Liveon I-5, which featured material recorded during the band'ssupporting tour for Down on the Upside. All of this activitywouldbethe prelude to Soundgarden's full-on return in 2012, when they released their sixthalbum, King Animal, in the fall of thatyear. King Animal debuted at five on the Billboard Top 200 upon its November 2012 release and the band supported it throughoutthe next yearwitha tour.Matt Cameron took a hiatus from the band in November 2013 due to commitments with Pearl Jam;former Pearl Jam drummerMattChamberlainreplaced him for live dates in 2014. That year, Soundgarden celebrated the 25thanniversary of Superunknown with thereleaseof two deluxe editions ofthe 1991 album: a double-disc set and a seven-discSuper Deluxe box set. During 2015, Chris Cornellmentioned thatSoundgarden had started workingon material for a newstudio set and the band made it official in 2016, announcing that theywere beginningto record an album. In the meantime,theband released a deluxe reissue of Ultramega OK in March 2017. However, while ontour with thegroup two months later,Cornell was found deadfrom suicide by hanging in his Detroit hotel room following a show at the city'sFox Theater;he was 52years old. « hide

Similar Bands: Led Zeppelin, Alice in Chains, Melvins, Chris Cornell, Black Sabbath

LPs
King Animal
11/13/2012

3.5
735 Votes
Down on the Upside
1996

3.7
1,193 Votes
Superunknown
1994

4.3
2,917 Votes
Badmotorfinger
1991

4.1
1,950 Votes
Louder Than Love
1989

3.5
751 Votes
Ultramega OK
1988

3.3
561 Votes
EPs
Songs from the Superunknown
1995

3.2
29 Votes
Satan oscillate my metallic sonataS
1992

3.5
27 Votes
Loudest Love
1990

3.8
22 Votes
Fopp
1988

2.9
71 Votes
Screaming Life
1987

3.6
102 Votes
Live Albums
Live on I-5
2011

3.1
49 Votes
Louder Than Live!
1990

3.5
1 Votes
Compilations
Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path
2014

3.9
16 Votes
Telephantasm
2010

3.9
75 Votes
Fresh Deadly Rarities
2000

4.1
10 Votes
A-Sides
1997

3.9
226 Votes
Alive in the Superunknown
1995

4.1
10 Votes
Screaming Life/Fopp
1990

3.5
95 Votes

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