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Sometimes you can give a band a break on their early material due to the quality of their later material. Well with Soundgarden, that isn’t the case, right from the start, with only their second release, “Screaming Life” EP, they already show many qualities that became their trademark.
From Chris Cornell’s banshee wail, to the wall of sound created by Kim Thayil thunderous, heavy guitar next to the fluid bass of Hiro Yamamoto, topped off with Matt Cameron’s steady beats, this already shows signs of what Soundgarden would become, if not already being in the general area.
Like most early Soundgarden material (pre-1991ish) this has more in common with stoner metal, and has strong influence by Black Sabbath. Also, “Screaming Life” sounds like the band just recorded whatever the heck they wanted as there is an experimental vibe on some of the tracks, demonstrated by such tracks as “Little Joe” which has more of a rap vibe. Another thing you’ll notice is the lyrics still don’t have some of the bite they do on other albums.
“Screaming Life” has a few key tracks on it, such as “Nothing to Say” which would remain a concert staple to their breakup, the rap flavoured “Little Joe” and the odd “Hand of God”. Though most of this material is fairly good, and there are no downright skipable tracks.
Overall, Soundgarden’s “Screaming Life” is a very solid EP, and while it is best taken in as something that helped allow them to find their sound, it is very enjoyable just on its own. Also this was combined with the other EP, “Fopp” on cd, making for a reasonably priced compilation.