SOUNDGARDEN play an intimate show Friday (November 16) at the Phoenix. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Questioned in interviews about a potential Soundgarden reunion over the past decade and a half, Chris Cornell maintained a hard-line stance: no chance. Citing the risk of "tarnishing their legacy," he preferred to leave the band in the annals of the Seattle grunge explosion and focus on his own pursuits.
Those pursuits - three progressively bland Audioslave albums and a train-wreck solo collaboration with Timbaland - have gone a long way to tarnishing his own reputation. So 16 years after their last official album, Soundgarden are back, joining their former peers on the 90s alt rock reunion circuit.
King Animal doesn't sound like a nostalgia-fed cash grab, nor is it poisoned by the desperate commercialism of Cornell's post-Soundgarden projects. Instead, it picks up where 1996's Down On The Upside left off, layering Cornell's distinct howl over psychedelic textures, off-kilter time signatures and heavy, chugging riffs courtesy of way-underrated guitarist Kim Thayil.
Top track: A Thousand Days Before