Chris Cornell and Soundgarden are back after 16 years without a studio record with the upcoming release of "King Animal." Listening to the album, it’s pretty hard to believe that the grunge gods are in their forties. The riffs are still heavy, and Cornell’s vocals still capture the angst so crucial to grunge. Songs like “Bones of Birds” and “By Crooked Steps” drift in and out of 5/4 and 7/4, a stylistic choice that conveys a degree of musical seriousness but does so without alienating the more casual listener. While every song is likeable in its own right, the album isn’t especially dynamic, and a lot of the tracks are more or less indistinguishable from one another. Removed from the musical context of the 90s, the sound lacks the immediacy that it had when grunge was still cutting–edge stuff. But you’ve got to give it to Soundgarden for still embracing the sound they worked so hard to define.

3.5/5 stars


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