Since my disappointment caused by their performance at Sonisphere Festival, in May last year, I’m not into Soundgarden anymore. Not that I deny their old stuff, but my current interest in them is non-existent. I know the location, a colossal esplanade in the middle of nowhere in Getafe, and the huge distance to the stage, are to be blamed for that, still they didn’t transmit what I was looking for, and found them too cold, as if they weren’t Soundgarden for real. To be honest, I haven’t listened to their last album release yet. I’m not in the mood.
Back in the day Badmotorfinger and their popular work Superunknown were the albums which called my attention. Black Hole Sun was nonstop broadcast on MTV and became remarkably popular. In those days, the hegemony of the Seattle sound (or grunge, up to you) was hard-fought among awesome bands which nowadays we consider them as classics, you know, Pearl Jam and Nirvana were the most distinguished and popular worldwide, and then there were Soundgarden, Alice in Chains or Screaming Trees, darker, harder and definitely for a more selective audience. Remember I always speak from my heart, so do not be offended if I consider these last bands mentioned superior to the other ones. For many years I used to think Pearl Jam were the best band on Earth but, as my musical taste evolved and took shape, I started flirting with many other bands.
My all time favorite Soundgarden album was Badmotorfinger. Rough, wild, insane, heavy. I see much Black Sabbath influence in its songs, and I’d reckon it was unconsciously an appetizer to what was to hit us in the face, stoner rock. Perhaps, this is the reason why I didn’t pay much attention to Down on the Upside when it was released. In 1996 I was listening to Black Sabbath and Kyuss like craze, flipping with John Garcia and Josh Homme, and thinking that sound was the perfect combination for what I needed, plus it was completely unknown by people around me, so it was kind of special to be away from mainstream.
Thus, when Down on the Upside was released, I didn’t have time to spend in listening to an album from a band which wasn’t fresh nor wild anymore, there were many other interesting bands I was focused on. That’s what I thought, meh!
Of course there were singles which I enjoyed at that time, but the proper moment to discover Down on the Upside didn’t arrive till 2005 or so, when someone gave me this album as a present, insisting it was his Soundgarden personal favorite. I had to trust him, there was no other chance. And yes, he was right, it’s probably their most complete album up to date.
Songs are more experimental, perhaps further than expected from Thayil’s earlier killer riffs, lackin of their genuine rage, however, delivering more sophisticated compositions, with innovative arrangements and providing a lysergic tone to the songs. Nevertheless even though there’s a great production work carried out by themselves, their sound is raw and very straight.
It’s hard to think the creation of this album eventually finished with the band splitting, as it really sounds convincing and really everything put together. It’s a very well cooked album.
The list of singles could be closed to the whole album, still I have to mention Pretty Noose, Burden in my Head or Blow Up The Outside World. This album is simply epic. One of those you never get bored with, plus with every listening new details are discovered. Thrilling!
Thus whenever I’m asked which of their alums I like most, I usually start burning my head trying to submit the right choice. It’s Badmotorfinger for personal reasons, and a more metal sound, but also Down on the Upside is a terrific album which should be praised once and for all.
But let’s stop talking because I need to have some sleep. Try to listen to this album with the headphones. It is GREAT! If you’ve never done it before, I’m positive you’r gonna love it. AAh, jealous!