Essential Albums

  • Superunknown (20th Anniversary)
  • Badmotorfinger (25th Anniversary Remaster)

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About Soundgarden

One of the defining acts of the ’90s alt-rock boom, the Seattle quartet Soundgarden blended the Zeppelin-esque grandeur of Chris Cornell’s soaring vocals and Kim Thayil’s guitar pyrotechnics with sludge-coated rhythms to great success. Formed in 1984, the band first appeared on the 1986 compilation Deep Six, a snapshot of its home city’s then-nascent rock scene. The local label Sub Pop released their bleakly paranoid debut single, “Hunted Down”; that was followed by two EPs, Screaming Life and Fopp. Soundgarden’s first full-length, Ultramega OK, came out in 1988 on the famed indie-rock label SST, and the video for lead single “Flower” garnered attention from MTV’s late-night rock shows. The band’s major-label debut, Louder Than Love, was released a year later, highlighted by the cavernous environmental plea “Hands All Over” and the piercing “Loud Love.” Bassist Hiro Yamamoto was replaced by Ben Shepherd for the recording of Soundgarden’s third full-length, 1991’s Badmotorfinger, which proved an alt-rock-mainstream breakthrough, with the bludgeoning “Jesus Christ Pose” and the chugging “Outshined” serving as standard-bearers for grunge. Superunknown, released in 1994, further propelled Soundgarden into the mainstream on the strength of the swaggering “Spoonman” and the psychedelia-tinged “Black Hole Sun,” and 1996’s Down on the Upside expanded the band’s sonic palette. Soundgarden went on hiatus in 1997, with Cornell starting Audioslave and Matt Cameron joining Pearl Jam, and they returned in 2010, releasing their final album, King Animal, in 2012. The band toured until Cornell’s death in 2017 and played their final show, a tribute to Cornell with an all-star cast of vocalists, in 2019.

Seattle, WA, United States
Hard Rock

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