Badmotorfinger (1991.), Soundgarden’s third studio album
Soundgarden were one of the great rock acts of the 1990’s, achieving widespread popularity by the middle of the decade with the release of the multiplatinum-selling album, ‘Superunknown’. However, the reality is that Soundgarden had been around a great deal longer than most people realised, originally forming in the mid-1980’s. They were one of the original Seattle bands who started the whole grunge rock concept which would become mainstream in the early 90’s. ‘Badmotorfinger’, Soundgardens’ third studio album, released in 1991 was the first big break for the band as it was their first release under a major label, A&M records and what a major label debut it was …..
‘Badmotorfinger’ to put it simply is one of the heaviest albums I own in my collection. Before I bought this album, the only Soundgarden record that I owned was ‘Superunknown’ and it was one of my favourite albums. To put things in context, I think that ‘Badmotorfinger’ is BETTER than ‘Superunknown’, showing really how masterful this album is. This is Soundgarden at their heaviest or even more, it is grunge at its heaviest. With this album, the band combine Led Zeppelin-like sounds with the powerful, sludgy riffs of 70’s Black Sabbath to come up with something amazing. The album is dark, uncompromising and angry for the most part and is the perfect thing to listen to if you’ve had a tense or bad day! This is Soundgarden at their most aggressive and raw – listening to Chris Cornell’s screams in some of the songs shows this clearly as does Kim Thayil’s powerful riffing right the way through the album. If your expecting the feel of ‘Superunknown’ with this album I would prepare to be a little disappointed as ‘Badmotorfinger’ is less comercial, maybe less lyrical and more melodic but is certainly far, far heavier. All in all, it is another one of the finest efforts from the alternative-rock grunge era and is one of the top albums of that exceptional music year, 1991.
This monster of an album begins with ‘Rusty Cage’, a great opener which is more a heavy metal showcase than anything, with powerful bass-lines and furious riffing. The following track is one hell of a song, ‘Outshined’ is one of the best rock songs of the 1990’s. The guitar work is really atmospheric and chilling, coupled with a killer chorus. ‘Slaves and Bulldozers’ is the epic of the album, rolling in at 7 minutes. Chris Cornell vents his anger in this one, howling at a level that just doesn’t seem humanely possible. The bassline played by Ben Shepherd on this song is great and the song has a very dark, Sabbath-like feel to it overall. ‘Jesus Christ Pose’ is a great track which a clever but complex beginning with some great drumming from Matt Cameron. Next up is ‘Face Pollution’, a short angst filled rocker with plenty of pacy riffs. Following this is ‘Sometimes’, another awesome song with a great climatic chorus. The most unusual track on the album has to go to ‘Searching With My Good Eye Closed’, which has a warped but amusing start where Chris Cornell does a voice over – it blends into a very atmospheric track. After this track fades out, ‘Room A Thousand Years Wide’ blasts in with some great riffs and some amazing vocals from Cornell and also enter the saxophones which close out the song! ‘Mind Riot’ is the most poetic song on the album cemented with lusicous riffs. After this is another short song, ‘Drawing Flies’, fast and furious (what did I say about this album!) with an interesting integration of trumpets at the end. ‘Holy Water’ follows and this is one of the album’s best. Pounding drumming ensues with some entrancing but hard riffs; this song is what Soundgarden is all about. ‘New Damage’ is a slower, very dark song which is a phenominal album closer with Kim Thayil jamming out some more sludgy Sabbathesque riffs over some rather depressing lyrics from Chris Cornell.
‘Badmotorfinger’ is a juggernaut of the some of the best heavy metal ever. Like I’ve said above, this album is REALLY heavy but is also very melodic and is never short of a dull moment (although it has plenty of dark ones!). This in my opinion is Soundgarden at their very highest peak (and is also lead singer Chris Cornell’s greatest triumph on the vocals) and is a must buy for any fan of alterantive grunge rock or heavy metal in general.