Wednesday, 10 November 2010

CD Review: Badmotorfinger, by Soundgarden (1991)

The most metallic grunge band this side of Nirvana, Seattle's Soundgarden were capable of producing moments of power and brilliance that could hold their own in any metal landscape.

On Badmotorfinger, the band's third album, five songs dominate, and four of them lead-off the album: Rusty Cage, Outshined, Slaves and Bulldozers, and Jesus Christ Pose are the front four, and towards the back of the album is Holy Water. All five are among the best known anthems of grunge, and deservedly so. Without ever reaching peaks of absolute brilliance, they offer the depth of metal sound mixed with a punk ethic, driven by grand chords, innnovative sounds and hooked-up melodies.

Unfortunately for the overall album quality, there are seven other tracks on Badmotorfinger, including some pretty desperate and lame material. Face Pollution and Somewhere carry the stench of expired filler, and Mind Riot is not much better. Overall, the twelve tracks are about four too many.

Chris Cornell on vocals is a one man perpetual high energy source, his range of octaves equaled only by the range of his emotions, with his average intensity level bouncing between anguished and agonized.

The rest of the band is more about the collective than the individual, with an appealing wall of sound created for each track rather than individual moments of brilliance. Whether it's the mix or the talent, Ben Shepherd's bass is generally missing in action and conspicuously absent when the opportunity is there to dominate.

Three years after Badmotofinger Soundgarden went on to record the more famous but quite bloated Superunknown. Although not necessarily better, Badmotorfinger was the less pretentious, and perhaps more honest, album.


Chris Cornell - Vocals, Guitar
Kim Thayil - Guitar
Matt Cameron - Drums
Ben Shepherd - Bass

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Rusty Cage - 9
2. Outshined - 8
3. Slaves and Bulldozers - 9
4. Jesus Christ Pose - 9
5. Face Pollution - 5
6. Somewhere - 5
7. Searching With My Good Eye Close - 7
8. Room A Thousand Years Wide - 7
9. Mind Riot - 6
10. Drawing Flies - 7
11. Holy Water - 9
12. New Damage - 7

Average: 7.33

Produced by Terry Date and Soundgarden. Engineered by Terry Date.
Mixed by Ron St. Germain. Mastered by Howie Weinberg.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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