Seven Four Entertainment/Republic
The reunited Seattle grunge-scene legends Soundgarden have released their first new album in 16 years, and it's an impressively noisy and red-blooded affair.
Fans of the band's arena-filling hard-rock side should love propulsively funky monsters such as Been Away Too Long and Blood on the Valley Floor. A fondness for old-school heavy metal and vintage psychedelia also shows through in Worse Dreams and Rowing, which wrap Chris Cornell's operatic roar around muscular bluesy riff-grinders. And there are inevitable echoes of Pearl Jam, with whom Soundgarden still share a drummer, in more melodic folk-blues Americana like A Thousand Days Before and Bones of Birds.
Still shamelessly plundering the heavy-rock rule book laid down by Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath four decades ago, Soundgarden stick within their comfort zone on this businesslike comeback. After a 15-year intermission full of unlikely collaborations and experimental digressions, including a James Bond theme and an R&B album from Cornell, this back-to-basics approach is a little disappointing. All the same, the elder statesmen of grunge metal still deliver a powerful punch as they enter their 50s.