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Rock - Released June 3, 2014 | A&M

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | Geffen

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Soundgarden's finest hour, Superunknown is a sprawling, 70-minute magnum opus that pushes beyond any previous boundaries. Soundgarden had always loved replicating Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath riffs, but Superunknown's debt is more to mid-period Zep's layered arrangements and sweeping epics. Their earlier punk influences are rarely detectable, replaced by surprisingly effective appropriations of pop and psychedelia. Badmotorfinger boasted more than its fair share of indelible riffs, but here the main hooks reside mostly in Chris Cornell's vocals; accordingly, he's mixed right up front, floating over the band instead of cutting through it. The rest of the production is just as crisp, with the band achieving a huge, robust sound that makes even the heaviest songs sound deceptively bright. But the most important reason Superunknown is such a rich listen is twofold: the band's embrace of psychedelia, and their rapidly progressing mastery of songcraft. Soundgarden had always been a little mind-bending, but the full-on experiments with psychedelia give them a much wider sonic palette, paving the way for less metallic sounds and instruments, more detailed arrangements, and a bridge into pop (which made the eerie ballad "Black Hole Sun" an inescapable hit). That blossoming melodic skill is apparent on most of the record, not just the poppier songs and Cornell-penned hits; though a couple of drummer Matt Cameron's contributions are pretty undistinguished, they're easy to overlook, given the overall consistency. The focused songwriting allows the band to stretch material out for grander effect, without sinking into the pointlessly drawn-out muck that cluttered their early records. The dissonance and odd time signatures are still in force, though not as jarring or immediately obvious, which means that the album reveals more subtleties with each listen. It's obvious that Superunknown was consciously styled as a masterwork, and it fulfills every ambition. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 3, 2014 | A&M

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Soundgarden's finest hour, Superunknown is a sprawling, 70-minute magnum opus that pushes beyond any previous boundaries. Soundgarden had always loved replicating Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath riffs, but Superunknown's debt is more to mid-period Zep's layered arrangements and sweeping epics. Their earlier punk influences are rarely detectable, replaced by surprisingly effective appropriations of pop and psychedelia. Badmotorfinger boasted more than its fair share of indelible riffs, but here the main hooks reside mostly in Chris Cornell's vocals; accordingly, he's mixed right up front, floating over the band instead of cutting through it. The rest of the production is just as crisp, with the band achieving a huge, robust sound that makes even the heaviest songs sound deceptively bright. But the most important reason Superunknown is such a rich listen is twofold: the band's embrace of psychedelia, and their rapidly progressing mastery of songcraft. Soundgarden had always been a little mind-bending, but the full-on experiments with psychedelia give them a much wider sonic palette, paving the way for less metallic sounds and instruments, more detailed arrangements, and a bridge into pop (which made the eerie ballad "Black Hole Sun" an inescapable hit). That blossoming melodic skill is apparent on most of the record, not just the poppier songs and Cornell-penned hits; though a couple of drummer Matt Cameron's contributions are pretty undistinguished, they're easy to overlook, given the overall consistency. The focused songwriting allows the band to stretch material out for grander effect, without sinking into the pointlessly drawn-out muck that cluttered their early records. The dissonance and odd time signatures are still in force, though not as jarring or immediately obvious, which means that the album reveals more subtleties with each listen. It's obvious that Superunknown was consciously styled as a masterwork, and it fulfills every ambition. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1990 | Sub Pop Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released May 21, 1996 | A&M

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Rock - Released October 8, 1991 | A&M

Bidding for a popular breakthrough with their second major-label album, Soundgarden suddenly developed a sense of craft, with the result that Badmotorfinger became far and away their most fully realized album to that point. Pretty much everything about Badmotorfinger is a step up from its predecessors -- the production is sharper and the music more ambitious, while the songwriting takes a quantum leap in focus and consistency. In so doing, the band abolishes the murky meandering that had often plagued them in the past, turning in a lean, muscular set that signaled their arrival in rock's big leagues. Conventional wisdom has it that despite platinum sales, Badmotorfinger got lost amid the blockbuster success of Nevermind and Ten (all were released around the same time). But the fact is that, though they're all great records, Badmotorfinger is much less accessible by comparison. Not that it isn't melodic, but it also sounds twisted and gnarled, full of dissonant riffing, impossible time signatures, howling textural solos, and weird, droning tonalities. It's surprisingly cerebral and arty music for a band courting mainstream metal audiences, but it attacks with scientific precision. Part of that is due to the presence of new bassist Ben Shepherd, who gives the band its thickest rhythmic foundation yet -- and, moreover, immediately shoulders the departed Hiro Yamamoto's share of songwriting duties. But it's apparent that the whole band has greatly expanded the scope of its ambitions. And Badmotorfinger fulfills them, pulling all the different threads of the band's sound together into a mature, confident, well-written record. This is heavy, challenging hard rock full of intellectual sensibility and complex band interplay. And with their next album, Soundgarden would learn how to make it fully accessible to mainstream audiences as well. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 5, 1989 | A&M

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Rock - Released November 13, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Soundgarden split acrimoniously after the 1996 release of Down On the Upside, but they always seemed a band ripe for reunion, and not just because Chris Cornell flailed through his new-millennial solo career. Soundgarden always seemed a band built for the long haul, destined to have their love of '70s metal roots overtake their punk roots. That's what happened with their 1994 breakthrough, Superunknown, and that's where Soundgarden return on their 2012 reunion King Animal, acting like nothing -- not even the murky Down On the Upside -- happened in the ensuing 18 years. As heavy as it is -- and it is, the slower songs either being dirges or semi-psychedelic swirls; the burnished introspections of Cornell's solo work have been banished -- King Animal is a big, bright album, executed with precision and professionalism. The bandmembers sound older, not quite as loud, and possess a keener sense of good taste, and it sounds as if they've aged together, which is a testament to their innate chemistry. Simply put, Soundgarden sound like they belong together; Cornell sounds richer, fuller when anchored by drummer Matt Cameron, bassist Ben Shepherd, and the deceptively sinewy and brainy guitarist Kim Thayil, whose presence has sorely been missed over the past decade. Apart from the occasional lapse of smutty humor, all of Soundgarden's signatures are in place, and it's a pleasure to hear Cornell's modulated wail, just as it is to hear Thayil's brawny riffs tangle with Cameron and Shepherd. All this is apparent upon the first listen, and if it does take some time for the songs of King Animal to sink in, that doesn't diminish the album in the slightest: this is a surprisingly strong reunion, one that puts the band back on the track they abandoned long ago. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 3, 2014 | A&M

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Rock - Released November 18, 2016 | Geffen

Bidding for a popular breakthrough with their second major-label album, Soundgarden suddenly developed a sense of craft, with the result that Badmotorfinger became far and away their most fully realized album to that point. Pretty much everything about Badmotorfinger is a step up from its predecessors -- the production is sharper and the music more ambitious, while the songwriting takes a quantum leap in focus and consistency. In so doing, the band abolishes the murky meandering that had often plagued them in the past, turning in a lean, muscular set that signaled their arrival in rock's big leagues. Conventional wisdom has it that despite platinum sales, Badmotorfinger got lost amid the blockbuster success of Nevermind and Ten (all were released around the same time). But the fact is that, though they're all great records, Badmotorfinger is much less accessible by comparison. Not that it isn't melodic, but it also sounds twisted and gnarled, full of dissonant riffing, impossible time signatures, howling textural solos, and weird, droning tonalities. It's surprisingly cerebral and arty music for a band courting mainstream metal audiences, but it attacks with scientific precision. Part of that is due to the presence of new bassist Ben Shepherd, who gives the band its thickest rhythmic foundation yet -- and, moreover, immediately shoulders the departed Hiro Yamamoto's share of songwriting duties. But it's apparent that the whole band has greatly expanded the scope of its ambitions. And Badmotorfinger fulfills them, pulling all the different threads of the band's sound together into a mature, confident, well-written record. This is heavy, challenging hard rock full of intellectual sensibility and complex band interplay. And with their next album, Soundgarden would learn how to make it fully accessible to mainstream audiences as well. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 26, 2019 | Soundgarden - Artists Den

Soundgarden as if you were in the front row. That's the promise for this 2013 live performance, recorded at the Wiltern, L.A for the TV show "Live From The Artist's Den". Over two hours of music during which Chris Cornell and his band played the best of their three-decade discoraphy: from Ultramega OK, their first record from October 1988, to King Animal, which would be their last before Cornell's tragic suicide in 2017. The singer/rhythm guitarist from Seattle threw in a few jokes and anecdotes between songs, most notably for the first live performance of Blind Dogs in the history of the band. Live at the Artist's den sees him at the top of his vocal form, navigating his extensive four-octave range with ease. On Incessant Mace, the dark and foreboding opener, he is mercurial and detached, and on other tracks such as the elephantesque sludge of Slaves & Bulldozers he lets rip some of the most impressive high notes in the history of rock. A five star performance from one end to the other, this record is without a doubt Soundgarden's best live performance to have been captured on tape. It's a mythical performance, and a mythical band as well. © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 10, 2017 | Sub Pop Records

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Rock - Released November 24, 2014 | Geffen

Mere months after Superunknown received an extravagant super deluxe box came Echo of Miles: Scattered Across the Path, a triple-disc collection of rarities from Soundgarden's prime. Divided into three thematic sets -- "Originals," containing stray songs and B-sides; "Covers," including B-sides, Peel Sessions, various live performances, and, strangely, things that popped up on Ultramega OK, and "Oddities," which contains more B-sides, remixes, and previously unreleased cuts -- Echo of Miles nevertheless plays like a clearinghouse, where it's imperative that the listener sorts out the gems from the dross. It is worth taking time to find the keepers, many of which do arrive on the first disc where the band not only indulge in thick, crawling sludge but don't hide their perverse sense of humor, a trait they often suppressed on their full-length records. That's one of the nice things about Echo of Miles: like many rarities collections, it gets to the heart of the group's character through its mess, through how it sets their impishness alongside their muscle. Originals is the best of the batch, particularly in how it illustrates their growth from malicious underground rockers into arena titans, but Covers has many of the same strengths: this is a band that pummeled funk into a paste ("Thank You [Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin]), tapped into the Satanic strut of the Stones' "Stray Cat Blues," tightened up "Search and Destroy," and then played "Big Bottom" and "Earache My Eye" without a smirk. If Oddities slows a bit -- the remixes in the back half meander and a lot of the earlier cuts are either instrumental or unformed (or sometimes both) -- the ragged ends nevertheless capture the restlessness that made Soundgarden a continually fascinating band. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 5, 1989 | A&M

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Rock - Released June 3, 2014 | Geffen

Soundgarden's finest hour, Superunknown is a sprawling, 70-minute magnum opus that pushes beyond any previous boundaries. Soundgarden had always loved replicating Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath riffs, but Superunknown's debt is more to mid-period Zep's layered arrangements and sweeping epics. Their earlier punk influences are rarely detectable, replaced by surprisingly effective appropriations of pop and psychedelia. Badmotorfinger boasted more than its fair share of indelible riffs, but here the main hooks reside mostly in Chris Cornell's vocals; accordingly, he's mixed right up front, floating over the band instead of cutting through it. The rest of the production is just as crisp, with the band achieving a huge, robust sound that makes even the heaviest songs sound deceptively bright. But the most important reason Superunknown is such a rich listen is twofold: the band's embrace of psychedelia, and their rapidly progressing mastery of songcraft. Soundgarden had always been a little mind-bending, but the full-on experiments with psychedelia give them a much wider sonic palette, paving the way for less metallic sounds and instruments, more detailed arrangements, and a bridge into pop (which made the eerie ballad "Black Hole Sun" an inescapable hit). That blossoming melodic skill is apparent on most of the record, not just the poppier songs and Cornell-penned hits; though a couple of drummer Matt Cameron's contributions are pretty undistinguished, they're easy to overlook, given the overall consistency. The focused songwriting allows the band to stretch material out for grander effect, without sinking into the pointlessly drawn-out muck that cluttered their early records. The dissonance and odd time signatures are still in force, though not as jarring or immediately obvious, which means that the album reveals more subtleties with each listen. It's obvious that Superunknown was consciously styled as a masterwork, and it fulfills every ambition. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released May 21, 1996 | A&M

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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | Geffen

Since so much of Soundgarden’s legacy lay in the years before their superstardom, their major label-oriented 1997 A-Sides compilation didn’t quite do them justice. Although it contained cuts from the years before they signed to A&M, A-Sides downplayed the first act of their story, so the 2010 compilation Telephantasm is quite welcome, at least in its double disc incarnation where there’s enough room to capture the entire arc of the group’s career. Not only is there a heavy dose of their SST and SubPop recordings but there is a strategic deployment of live cuts, BBC sessions, single versions and rarities, including the previously unreleased outtake “Black Rain,” all of which capture the band at their heaviest, a shift that’s particularly notable toward the end of their career, with “Pretty Noose” and “Blow Up The Outside World” present in rawer versions than their studio incarnations. This may not satisfy a casual fan who wants to hear versions played on the radio, but the entirety of Telephantasm winds up being something better than a hits collection: it captures the essence of the band, why they were important and why they still sound powerful some twenty years later. [This deluxe set also includes a bonus DVD containing all of Soundgarden’s music videos, including several alternate versions of familiar clips.] © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1997 | A&M

For an act that was one of the definitive album artists of the late '80s and '90s, Soundgarden was a surprisingly effective singles band. Their singles effectively conveyed all of their best ideas, from their sludgy early Sub Pop recordings to the elaborate, post-metal psychedelia of their last two albums, Superunknown and Down on the Upside. That's the reason why the 17-track compilation A-Sides is such a successful overview of the band's too-brief career. Most of their peers wouldn't be well represented by a compilation that concentrated solely on singles, but Soundgarden are, because their singles do capture what they're all about. There are many great songs left off A-Sides, from "Big Dumb Sex" to "My Wave," but it's hard to argue with what's here. Each single from every album -- from the 1987 debut EP Screaming Life through SST's Ultramega OK, to their four records for A&M -- is here, with the Down on the Upside outtake "Bleed Together" added as an enticement for collectors. Almost every one of the group's best-known songs are here, including "Hands All Over," "Loud Love," "Jesus Christ Pose," "Outshined," "Rusty Cage," "Black Hole Sun," "The Day I Tried to Live," "Spoonman," "Fell on Black Days," "Pretty Noose," "Burden in My Hand," and "Blow Up the Outside World," resulting in a near-definitive summary of one of the most important and influential bands of the '90s. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 13, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Soundgarden split acrimoniously after the 1996 release of Down On the Upside, but they always seemed a band ripe for reunion, and not just because Chris Cornell flailed through his new-millennial solo career. Soundgarden always seemed a band built for the long haul, destined to have their love of '70s metal roots overtake their punk roots. That's what happened with their 1994 breakthrough, Superunknown, and that's where Soundgarden return on their 2012 reunion King Animal, acting like nothing -- not even the murky Down On the Upside -- happened in the ensuing 18 years. As heavy as it is -- and it is, the slower songs either being dirges or semi-psychedelic swirls; the burnished introspections of Cornell's solo work have been banished -- King Animal is a big, bright album, executed with precision and professionalism. The bandmembers sound older, not quite as loud, and possess a keener sense of good taste, and it sounds as if they've aged together, which is a testament to their innate chemistry. Simply put, Soundgarden sound like they belong together; Cornell sounds richer, fuller when anchored by drummer Matt Cameron, bassist Ben Shepherd, and the deceptively sinewy and brainy guitarist Kim Thayil, whose presence has sorely been missed over the past decade. Apart from the occasional lapse of smutty humor, all of Soundgarden's signatures are in place, and it's a pleasure to hear Cornell's modulated wail, just as it is to hear Thayil's brawny riffs tangle with Cameron and Shepherd. All this is apparent upon the first listen, and if it does take some time for the songs of King Animal to sink in, that doesn't diminish the album in the slightest: this is a surprisingly strong reunion, one that puts the band back on the track they abandoned long ago. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | Geffen

Since so much of Soundgarden’s legacy lay in the years before their superstardom, their major label-oriented 1997 A-Sides compilation didn’t quite do them justice. Although it contained cuts from the years before they signed to A&M, A-Sides downplayed the first act of their story, so the 2010 compilation Telephantasm is quite welcome, at least in its double disc incarnation where there’s enough room to capture the entire arc of the group’s career. Not only is there a heavy dose of their SST and SubPop recordings but there is a strategic deployment of live cuts, BBC sessions, single versions and rarities, including the previously unreleased outtake “Black Rain,” all of which capture the band at their heaviest, a shift that’s particularly notable toward the end of their career, with “Pretty Noose” and “Blow Up The Outside World” present in rawer versions than their studio incarnations. This may not satisfy a casual fan who wants to hear versions played on the radio, but the entirety of Telephantasm winds up being something better than a hits collection: it captures the essence of the band, why they were important and why they still sound powerful some twenty years later. [This deluxe set also includes a bonus DVD containing all of Soundgarden’s music videos, including several alternate versions of familiar clips.] © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo