King Animal



by donovan909 USER (26 Reviews)
December 18th, 2012 | 10 replies

Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Soundgarden returns with an album that should please fans but not likely to win over any new listeners....

It is best to let the dust settle a bit when such a groundbreaking act as Soundgarden puts out an album 16 years since their last proper album. Patience is a virtue and Soundgarden fans have been VERY patient waiting on this album to come out. It is not as if they have not had their Chris Cornell fix with him fronting Audioslave, as well as, putting out some very sterile solo albums. But now he is back with the band that preceded the grunge movement and a band that put out music that will last much longer than so many of the flavor-of-the-month 90's bands.

If we suspend reality for one moment and let's just say, this was their first would be a hell of a debut album. But it is not. This is a band that is tried and true and has created some of the finest hard rock, hell, since there was such a thing as hard rock. Chris Cornell's vocal range rivals the greatest of hard rock singers and the band itself is a machine, creating an almost otherworldly sound for Cornell to sing over. Cornell said it himself, 'there is no one trying to be another Soundgarden because we are impossible to imitate.'

This is not their debut album though, this is an album from seasoned veterans who have created a back log of albums that still sound fresh today. Before writing this review, as a fan, I made myself listen to this album many times through. I couldn't tell you one song title or track number to skip to that I just absolutely loved. The songs are solid, the strange time signatures still there, Thayil's sixth sense of adding just the right lick is still locked into place...but somehow it all comes off as rather dull. Unfortunately, Cornell's voice sounds weak and even strained at some points. I don't expect a man pushing 50 to sing like he did when he was 25, but hell, he still has a great voice it just seems to fall short on some of the tracks.

The instant consensus would be that a fan, such as myself, just expects another Blackhole Sun, Outshined, or even the vocal acrobatics of Slaves and Bulldozers. However, songs such as 4th of July or Fell on Black Days are just powerful in their dark subdued vibe. It is not a matter of the lack of speed, heavy guitars, or Robert Plant style screaming....this album just comes off tired. The flurry of reviews that hit the web this minute this album was released almost felt like we should be grateful they released a new album, as it was a gift. If they had never released another album the few albums they put out created a legacy unmatched by any of their 90's counterparts.

I think back to Alice In Chains return. Although, ultimately, it offered up nothing really new, the songwriting was on par with their past releases even if it wasn't another Dirt or Jar of Flies. It was solid, consistent, and had some singularly strong songs. I struggle to find any truly stand out tracks on this album, as it seems to plod along, mixed with Soundgarden's gift of integrating strange riffs, off-time tempos, and Cornell's dark introspective lyrics.

All is not lost, as there are some good songs on here, and as many have said, this music has much more depth than any current 'radio fodder'. However, just because they released a better album than the new Nickelback or Shinedown doesn't make me feel obliged to throw a 4 or 5 at them.

I want to leave this on a positive note and I am not saying this album is a total wash. Though it may not be the Soundgarden of IS the Soundgarden of 2012 and these guys are still more creative than the bands half their age churning out cookie cutter drivel.

Some moments I found that really shine on this album are

A Thousand Days Before - really showcasing their penchant for mixing eastern style riffs with strange time signatures

Bones of Birds - the real standout - just a great song with a dark eerie vibe

Rowing - a slow start to an absolute jam session by the end, really showing what I would have like to have heard more of

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user ratings (694)
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • HenchmanOfSanta (4)
    Though not a classic, Soundgarden have produced a surprisingly solid comeback...

    Happy2review (4.5)

    Spoonman67 (3.5)
    This is an album I really like but not the best I´ve ever heard by these guys....

    jamiecoughlan (4)
    A worthy return that flies in the face of expectations...

  • FCY (4.5)
    'King Animal' is a modern take on vintage rock and a natural progression for Soundgarden, ...

    slagun (4.5)
    After 16 years we finally have a new Soundgarden album, an album for which every Soundgard...

    Limberg (4.5)
    Soundgarden have a strong musical legacy, one that fans were afraid could have been tarnis...

Comments:Add a Comment 
December 18th 2012


Pretty well written. You just had some grammatical hiccups in places, but the flow of the review was nice.

It is not as if they have not had their Chris Cornell fix

too many "nots", try some contractions in there man "IT'S not as if they HAVEN'T"

The flurry of reviews that hit the web this minute this album was released

THE minute this album was released.

Iunno those were a couple. Been wanting to try this album for a while because the first few songs that were released for it were really good.

December 18th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

good review man, pos'd

while i think i completely agree, i still give it a 4

December 18th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

I still can't decide if this is a 3.5 or a 4...

December 18th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

"not likely to win over any new listeners"

This is my first Soundgarden album and so far I'm getting won over, apart from "Been Away Too Long" which isn't great...

A Thousand Days Before is awesome.

December 18th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

yeah Been Away Too Long is a terrible introductory song for Soundgarden, it's nothing like them and the vocals are strained and just painful to listen to.

December 18th 2012


I think "Been Away Too Long" is a good example of Soundgarden. It could have easily been off Down On the Upside, but there are definitely better songs on the album, but I dig the tune. Been a fan since the release of Superunknown, and of course I love the older albums too, but when Superunknown came out, that is when I got hooked.

December 18th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

^ same, first album I ever bought with my own money

December 19th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

Honestly, this isn't too much more than your general reunion album. Still pretty enjoyable

February 4th 2013


Album Rating: 3.0

good review.. Bones of Birds is an amazing song. The rest of the album eh ok...

July 21st 2014


Album Rating: 2.5

Long gone are the days of masterpieces like 'Louder Than Love' , 'Superunknown' and even the underrated yet excellent swansong of 'Down on the Upside'. This album well explains why I hate out of time reunions. Had the luck to see 'em play live two times back in the day, in '92 with Faith No More opening for Gn'R [a band I genuinely hated] and fall '94, during the 'Superunknown' tour. Anyways, a song like "A Thousand Days Before" still shows hints of past glory, with a better production it would have done pretty well on 'Down on the Upside'...

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