Soundgarden - Superunknown
For a start, they drew upon a much wider variety of musical influences. There is a psychedelic influence on tracks such as "Head Down" and "Half", the latter incorporating influences from Indian musical themes as well. There is a funky twist on "Spoonman" and even an MTV friendly ballad in their most recognisable song, "Black Hole Sun". But lest we forget, they still brought with them their previous persona with tracks like "Mailman" which sounds as if it is black metal without the growly vocals. The result is to create an album which has more variety on it than anything they ever did before, and this is certainly a welcome change.
However, there are problems with this, as with almost every other grunge record I have ever encountered. In simple terms, it is that this sort of music sounds like it is straight-up bar-room rock. It may be more sophisticated than the stuff which your local no-hopers are belting out down the local club or pub, but let's not kid ourselves. That is what it is. It has been done a thousand times before and as many times since. No matter what influences you bring to bear on it, you are never going to move very far from that tried and trusted rock format. And that format has been done pretty much to death.
As a consequence, I find myself struggling to relate to it. Once upon a time, in the days before punk, I might have regarded this as superb album. But now, I am jaded and the music which can be found on this album is somewhat jaded too. I don't think I can turn my musical clock back far enough (and more to the point, I am not sure I want to) in order to be able to appreciate this for what it is. At the end of the day, the album is little more than mediocre.
It is a long album, especially with the bonus tracks, but that only adds to the problem. Some bands seem to think that being able to get seventy odd minutes of music onto a CD obligates them to do so. The result is, as is the case here, that there is just too much filler. Now while it may not sound like filler to some, to me, the seemingly endless repetition of driving rock guitars, largely mournful down-beat lyrics and a solid, but unimaginative rhythm section ultimately has very little to offer. Like a lot of other albums I bought from roughly the same era (Dirt by the Screaming Trees springs to mind) or from artists with a similar history (Saturnalia by the Gutter Twins for example), first listens were positive. But once I had got the whole CD home and started to listen to it, I quickly discovered that there was little of interest to hold me for very long.
In the end, there is nothing extraordinary or innovative about this album. It is good for what it is, but good for little else besides that. I struggle with albums like this and have now made a conscious decision to stop buying CD's of nineties American grunge when I now know it is little more than rock given new clothes. New clothes don't make things more appealing. You can dress up your granny in a miniskirt, but there is no way she is going to look like Megan Fox.
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on 2013-03-29 SolitaryMan Said:
Never was much of a Soundgarden fan. Cornell never grew on me, and their more popular tracks fell along the same lines. I gave Superunknown a chance once upon a time, and this review brought me back to it again. My old opinion still holds; solid, unspectacular, and most of all, sadly overhyped. Grunge had more to offer than this, but it seemed like these guys took off right alongside of their contemporaries, for whatever reason.
on 2009-07-01 evenflown Said:
an exceptional from one of the best bands of the 90's, and probably one of the top 5 best vocalists of all time, Chris Cornell, with hit singles that stole the spotlight even when Nevermind was there, such as "Black Hole Sun" and "Spoonman" and some other successful grunge hard rockers, Superunknown is one of those awesome albums you'll always remember.