Finally!! After teasing us with live shows, the Black Rain single, and that song on the soundtrack for The Avengers, Born To Rise, we finally are getting a new, full length Soundgarden album! And that’s a decidedly good thing. I’ve read many reviews that state that it’s “too similar to their previous albums”. Please, explain to me what the issue with that is. Badmotorfinger and Superunknown were both excellent albums. And so is King Animal. Chris Cornell’s amazing voice over some excellent instrumental work makes this an exceptional album.
1. Been Away Too Long
Indeed you have, Soundgarden. And that’s why this song provides the perfect introduction to their new album. Beginning with a great guitar riff, and then adding Chris Cornell’s vocals over it, this song picks up pretty quickly. And it’s a really, really great song. The music sounds great. The guitar riffs are great, and with some great work on the part of the rhythm section, this song is great musically. Building up before dying down in the bridgem and then picking up again, this song creates an excellent musical journey. Furthermore, it is also awesome lyrically, and I especially loves the chorus, in which Chris Cornell belts out “I’ve been away for too long!” Well put, Mr. Cornell, well put.
2. Non-State Actor
Kicking off with a great solo guitar riff, Non-State Actor is another awesome song. Chris Cornell quickly enters as well, with his vocal work continuing to be exceptional. This song is a little quieter that Been Away Too Long, but in no way is it a quiet song. And Chris Cornell does a good deal of his trademark scream in this song, which is, as always, awesome. this song has some really great lyrics as well. Lines such as “Reading turns the pages of history”, “We’re not elected, but we will speak”, and “I’ll teach you a lesson, sword for a pen” stood out to me, and are delivered in an excellent manner.
3. By Crooked Steps
Beginning a little on the quiet song, with great drum and guitar parts, By Crooked Steps abruptly picks up, and becomes a song that is similar in tone to Non-State Actors. An excellent guitar part throughout the song serves to make it an amazing song overall. Again, Chris Cornell delivers on this song, and, with the great musical backing, Soundgarden crafts another excellent song. Again, this song has awesome lyrics. “Crooked steps will take me higher” is an especially awesome line from the chorus. This is yet another excellent song.
4. A Thousand Days Before
A Thousand Days Before starts off as a quieter song, and remains so throughout. The guitar work on this song is reminiscent of Superunknown (the song), and are pretty awesome, though toned down a little. At certain points, the song appears to build up, but it drops back down, which is something of a cool effect to have in a song. When it’s all put together, with a more toned down Chris Cornell (screams are kept to a minimum, sadly), this song works really well.
5. Blood On the Valley Floor
Blood on The Valley Floor is a slow, yet heavy song. It starts off with a driving guitar riff, which remains present throughout almost the entire song. The guitar riff is really low, and when combined with Chris Cornell’s voice, it creates a harmony that sounds really good. It’s also written exceptionally well. “And the blood dries, while we spill some more” is a great line, and the lyrics of the entire song are also exceptional.
6. Bones of Birds
This is another slow song. However, it’s a lot quieter as well. It starts off with a slow, quiet guitar riff, and then Chris Cornell starts singing. He sings quietly, until the chorus, when a little volume is added. It isn’t enough to detract from the solemn mood already set, and, if anything, it adds to it. Bones of Birds is about building something up on a weak foundation, and then it comes crashing down. The chorus goes “Tried to build on bones of birds, singing in the cold, and falling to Earth”. It’s a great line, and emphasizes the point being made by the song.
The guitar intro to this song sounds, in many ways, like the introduction to “Schism” by Tool. And I’m not complaining. That song has one of the best intros I’ve ever heard, and what Taree does is take it and adds more layers to it. And it creates an awesome sound, that sticks around throughout Taree’s first 45 seconds, which are pretty quiet, even with Chirs Cornell’s singing. A good bit of volume is added at the chorus, and it sounds pretty awesome, especially since it rises and falls throughout. The guitar solo is also exceptional, probably the best on the album. However, I don’t like the lyrics as much as previous songs on King Animal. Chris Cornell’s screams at the end are awesome though.
This song starts out in a similar manner to the opening track, Been Away Too Long, and after a bunch of quieter, more toned down song, this is a louder, more fast paced song. It’s only 2 minutes and 41 seconds, so it’s brief, but it sounds really good. Actually, the instrumental work sounds like White Limo, off of the Foo Fighter’s Wasting Light. The vocals, on the other hand, are different, and sound great. I mean, do I even have to say how awesome Chris Cornell’s voice is at this point?
9. Black Saturday
Black Saturday starts off with a cool acoustic guitar sound. This song creates a new sound, one that we haven’t heard throughout the album. the acoustic guitar and congas at the beginning creates a little bit of an Afro-American feel, which is cool. The drum kit comes in eventually, and the song picks up. Once it picks up, the guitar and drums sound awesome. It loses volume again for the chorus, and picks it up again, this time with a trumpet in the background! And, considering that I play trumpet, I love hearing it in songs. The bridge is awesome, with the band creating a generally creepy sound. Black Saturday is another great song.
10. Halfway There
Halfway There is one of my favorite songs on the album. It starts off with a guitar and percussion flurry, and then becomes an acoustic song, which is pretty awesome. It picks up again, but it remains relatively quiet throughout. This song has some excellent vocal work, and the lyrics are really awesome as well. It’s about how challenging it is to achieve your dreams, and it’s a great message. One of my favorite lines is “Should a good life be so hard won? Is this what our dreams have become?”.
11. Worse Dreams
Worse Dreams is another louder song. In an album composed mostly of quieter songs, the louder songs scattered throughout are great. The drum kit and bass introduction creates a feel that is almost jazzy, and it sounds really good. It starts off pretty quiet at the beginning, but it builds up to where Chris Cornell’s screaming, the guitars are loud, the drums are loud, and the song is awesome. It dies down a little for the fast paced second verse, but picks up again and is one of the album’s best songs.
12. Eyelids Mouth
Eyelids mouth has an intro that is similar to the intro to Worse Dreams. It has a cool bass groove, and then gives way to the guitar, which merges perfectly with Chris Cornell’s voice. The lyrics are great on this song, with the chorus going “Who let the water run down? Who let the river run dry?”. It’s a great song about accountability and, more on the surface, it can be interpreted as being about the environment. So I guess it’s about accountability for the environment? Regardless, it’s a great song, both lyrically and musically.
Rowing starts off with a pretty cool drum/guitar intro. A few seconds in, Chris Cornell starts singing. And this is a fitting way to end the song. It’s about the future, and moving on. The rowing that the sings about (“I just keep on rowing, I just keep on pulling, gotta row) is a metaphor for how, in life, we need to just move on. Another lyric that stood out is “Rowing is living, and living is hard”. It’s a great line, which directly compares rowing to life. It’s a great song, with a great message, and a fitting close to Soundgarden’s return.
Soundgarden’s return is a triumphant one. King Animal is a quieter, more slow paced album, and is a lot more thoughtful than their previous albums. While it isn’t their best work, it’s still an exceptional album. The few louder, more fast paced songs thrown in prevent the album from being too repetitive. The album is jam packed with excellent song after excellent song. Both the lyrics and music are awesome, and this makes the album a must listen for everyone.