An Album for the Ages

26 03 2012

It was on this day in 1994 that Soundgarden, a popular ’90s grunge band, charged to No. 1 on the Billboards Album Chart. The release of “Superunknown” brought us many things; a showcase of Chris Cornell’s vocals, drop-D guitar solos and , finally, some well-deserved coverage of Soundgarden. Now don’t get me wrong, the band was talked about here and there, it was kind of like that kind of band where people say, “hey man have you heard of that band Soundgarden? Word on the street is they’re not bad.” This is the album that changed that.

It’s easy to see why Soundgarden wasn’t getting much attention before then while having to compete with Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” and Pearl Jam’s “Ten.” It was time for Soundgarden to step up its game a little. Stepping up its game is just what the band did. On earlier efforts, such as 1991’s Badmotorfinger,” Soundgarden revealed a mastery of metal and hard rock conventions with their heavier-than-heavy riffs and powerful rhythm section.However, those qualities didn’t  subside on “Superunknown.” If anything, the band has upped the ante in those regards.  But what emerged on this  album is an ability to incorporate the basics of rock music while branching out into other genres. “Superunknown” dabbles in power ballads and psychedelic undertones, among other characteristics, but yet the record feels cohesive instead of a jumble of disparate ideas.

The title track of this album is by far my favorite track on the whole album. The guitar work is a series of dibbles in the verse, and the verse itself is structured so that the end of every line has Cornell screaming in the way he does better than almost anyone I’ve ever heard. If you don’t have the album, download this track to thoroughly entertain  yourself. You can’t wait for him to finish the chorus the second time through with “SOOOOOUUUUUUULLLLLLLL… unh.” I still hold this album as one of my favorites from the ’90s, and I still remember riding in the truck with my brother when he went and bought it. Twas a great day!

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