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RIP Chris Cornell! - 100%

enshrinedtemple, May 24th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2014, 4CD + blu-ray, A&M Records (Limited edition 20th anniversary edition)

RIP Chris Cornell. I am reviewing Soundgarden’s Superunknown to honor the late Cornell. Superunknown is Soundgarden’s masterpiece. There are a whopping 16 tracks filled with excellence and artistic vision. The collection of tracks feature Soundgarden’s most well known songs like Black Hole Sun but also many heavier tracks like 4th of July. There was always a blurred line between Soundgarden and metal music. Like most of the Seattle scene, they took influence from the 70’s hard rock greats, punk, metal and just mashed everything up. It's quite difficult to put Soundgarden in a particular category of music when they contain many different elements. Superunknown is a microcosm of everything Soundgarden stood for and is therefore a benchmark in their discography.

Soundgarden in 1994 was one of the biggest things on the planet. With chart topping singles, MTV awards and countless accolades, Superunknown hit the mainstream hard but was just Soundgarden being themselves. They didn't sell out or start making pop music, they were just in the right place at the right time with the grunge explosion. The grunge scene is a really strange time in music history. None of the bands sounded a like but were grouped together by the media. Soundgarden stuck out like a soar thumb even though in their beginning years they were one of the very first grunge bands.

The soaring vocals and insane pipes of Chris Cornell set Soundgarden apart from their contemporaries. Not only was he the best singer out of the grunge era, he may be one of the best singers to ever grace the planet. Cornell’s vocals were so unique, just watch others try to replicate it. After his death, there were many tributes, but most chose the the immortal Black Hole Sun because it's Cornell’s most laid back performance. Cornell was a talented vocalist who sang strongly up until his demise. Superunknown is just one album out of Cornell’s long music career, but it is surely a defining moment in his career.

The other members of Soundgarden are equally as important to the album also. Matt Cameron is a ferocious drummer who can do anything behind the kit. Between Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, I'm not sure how the man has any free time. Head Down is absolutely one of the craziest drumming performances I have ever heard. It is so enjoyable to listen to Cameron freight train his way to the finish line. He hits hard on the punk influenced fast songs and he is gentle as a flower on slower build up songs like Like Suicide. Whatever the mood of the song, Cameron can fit the bill without sounding one dimensional or out of place. Ben Shephard is a great bassist and writer for the band. His contributions give Soundgarden the versatility it needs. The song Fresh Tendrils and that funky bass line are one of the highlights for me. It seems to me that the song was made around that bass line. It's absolutely infectious. Last but certainly not least is the punk and Iommi influenced Kim Thayil. Kim's riffs can be mistaken for a Sunn o))) song or a Ramones song for crying out loud. How awesome is that? Without Kim, Soundgarden would not be the celebrated band that they are today.

All four members really hit their pinnacle with Superunknown. It's a long, strange and heavy journey. This album will always be my favorite from Soundgarden and will always be a favorite from my childhood. I'm really sad to see Chris go at just 52 years old. I take a tiny bit of solace knowing that he never would have been able to top Superunknown. I would have liked him to stick out life and keep trying to top himself though. I was really looking forward to a new Soundgarden album in the next year or two but sadly that will never happen. Now with Soundgarden no longer a band, the rest of the members will have to continue on into the Superunknown. At least they have the legacy that they built still intact and that will last forever.