I’d rather be with a (King) Animal

Soundgarden release their sixth studio album next month, their first since 1996’s Down on the Upside.

Here’s an early track-by-track review from that august journal of king-sized riffs and big widdly solos, Metal Hammer. There’s also an interview with erudite guitarist Kim Thayil, struggling a little with some inane questions (perhaps he’s more of a Kerrang! person).

One new track, ‘Live to Rise’, appeared on the soundtrack for the New Avengers film, and the band have also released a few sneak previews of other tracks, including album opener and appropriately titled ‘Been Away Too Long’.

Renowned for their musical abilities and unusual time signatures, thoughtful lyrics, and fusion of punk attitudes with monstrous riffs, Soundgarden were arguably the central pillar of the Seattle rock scene back in the day before grunge exploded on the world, being the first Seattle band to make it big outside of Washington state.

The reformed band – back after a 13-year hiatus – supported Sabbath at Donington this ‘summer’ before then themselves headlining at Hyde Park; they return to London to play at (Ben) Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 9 November. As for Pearl Jam‘s show there in 2009, tickets will be like gold dust!

Matt Cameron, when not back in Soundgarden, keeps himself out of mischief as the drummer for Pearl Jam. When asked recently about the prospect of the two bands playing together live sometime, he confessed it was very unlikely: not being 25 any more, he wouldn’t have the energy to play two full sets in a night. Considering his schedule this year – both bands have been on the road alongside recording new albums – it’s impressive enough that he finds the time and energy to class up both joints, so I don’t think we can begrudge him ruling out a Seattle touring dream ticket!


About Mark Anstee

guitarist, Radio Seattle View all posts by Mark Anstee

3 responses to “I’d rather be with a (King) Animal

  • Eric Mack

    Hey Mark,

    Finally listened to King Animal the other day and liked it quite a bit! A very fine comeback album indeed. (I never even bothered to give Alice in Chains’ a listen a few years back.) Wanted to get your thoughts on it!

    Hope everything is well with Radio Seattle. Keep grunge alive!

    — Eric @ The Attack Zone

    • Mark Anstee

      Hi Eric,
      Good to hear from you! “King Animal” is a bit of a grower – on first listen my response was “well, it’s not Superunknown”, which is a somewhat unfair expectation! The musicianship is superlative, as you would expect from those four, even if Cornell’s voice isn’t, quite, what it was (but then he must be pushing 50, and it was already waning slightly by “Live on I5”).
      “Black Gives Way to Blue” is definitely worth a spin, though it’s likewise not an immediate album; William Duvall fits in seamlessly with the others, though sometimes he needs to rein in the ‘Staleyisms’; there are some immense riffs on there, not least “Check My Brain” with its trademark Cantrell slow-release bend. Happy to wing a copy your way.
      Radio Seattle’s singer has left the band, sadly, and we’re on the hunt for a replacement. Busily learning some new songs – “Them Bones” is taking shape (nearly there with the solo), as is “Black Hole Sun” (dreading that solo!).
      Hope you’re well – haven’t received a post from you in ages. Don’t know how you managed to write so many posts so regularly; I’m the world’s slowest blogger!! Loads of ideas, some half-written – must pull my thumb out over the Christmas break.

  • Eric Mack

    Hey Mark, glad you’re loving King Animal. It’s definitely growing on me, as well. (Though I’ve liked it from the start.) I was afraid it was going to suck completely, so I view the album is a considerable victory. It’s good to have Soundgarden back after the putrid mediocrity that was Audioslave. (In related news, I read a Tom Morello interview in Rolling Stone the other day, and it sounds like Rage might be done. I want to get my hands on the new XX box set they have released though.)

    Back when I did the albums list a year ago I was using a free wordpress.com blog like this one, and when I switched to a self-hosted wordpress.org site this past summer I lost all of my followers (yourself included) since all of the internal connections I had made with wordpress.com basically evaporated. Sorry ’bout that. It’s easy enough to subscribe again though. Just enter your email address on the form on the right side of the page. 🙂

    I have kept doing some more album entries — I try to do one every 3-4 weeks — for a column called In Rotation which is basically an extension of the list I did last year. I’m going to do another one (Incubus’ Morning View) in the next couple of days.

    By the way, I’m also sending you some Incubus albums via Dropbox, since you said you’re not familiar with them and they happen to be my favorite. I’m also reviewing their Pearl Jam-esque live bootleg series on my site. (They’re actually a very Pearl Jam-esque band, musically, as well.)

    Here’s what I’m sending you:

    Make Yourself (1999) – breakthrough
    Morning View (2001) – most popular album
    A Crow Left of the Murder… (2004) – probably their best album; definitely their most adventurous
    Light Grenades (2006) – a good album that’s probably my least favorite
    Monuments and Melodies: Disc 1 (2009) – a sampling of the hits if you just want that
    Monuments and Melodies: Disc 2 (2009) – the rarities, if you’re interested in those
    If Not Now, When? (2011) – their latest album, which isn’t very popular but is one of my favorites

    I’ll see if I can wing you some bootlegs, too. Tom Morello joins them a couple of times on stage. Thought you’d might like to hear that.

    By the way, I’d love to hear Black Gives Way to Blue.


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