This is hands down my single-favorite Soundgarden cd, ahead of Superunknown, and that then ahead of the evilest Down On The Upside, which direly needs to more aptly be called 'Down on the Downside'. This album is the definitive metal record, if you choose to disregard the fine Alice In Chains' efforts. Soundgarden at its wildest and most untamed, this cd boils over with urgent aggression and a need to poetize one's stormy mind storms in the medium of songwriting. This reason is most likely, exactly why this is the most harsh AND potent of all of Soundgarden's records. The disparaging analogies, which harm Soundgarden's ability for originality, of Soundgarden being influenced by Led Zeppelin are so slanderous that it would be a complete, laughable joke, were it not monstrously damaging to their reputation as a Seattle original. I.E., that Zeppelin banshee's voice is much more painfully high-pitched than Cornell's could EVER reach. That, and also Cornell's got a better depth and, importantly, a wider range which doesn't just solely embrace and exaggerate to the most disreputably high wails. Additionally, Soundgarden's guitarist is harshly more qualified to shred, and then compose powerful solos on the guitar.
As for the songs, they precisely capture the most electrifying and energetic jamming of Soundgarden's whole career. Unluckily, their follow-up, Superunknown, would contrast this noisy shredding with more despairing and slow beats. Guitars are played with the wildest of abandon, as Cornell's "buzzing" shredding balances equally with Thayil's sonic-piercing cacophony. Except, unlike a real cacophony, as all masterful bands are able to perform, the combination of guitars sounds very much in harmony with each other, it's just that it's played as grudgingly loud as possible, which is fine by anyone with a good ear. In addition, Cornell's rising and sometimes discordant vocal belting complements this perfectly, as both guitars and vocals are both striving to reach an extremely satisfying peak. Truly, Cornell's voice, like Vedder's from the 1st few records of PJ, is an asset almost more valuable than an extra guitar. On the album, his voice is far-reaching on a scale of varying intonations. From all-out, feral screaming, to more subdued, almost sincere singing, to conclusively unbridled, high-pitched crying, to a rough coarseness in the voice, Cornell's gone and invented a quite unprecedented, unique and, thus, rarely copied-due to its individuality-style. Also, Matt Cameron, after having prostituted himself to PJ since 1998, has seen his drumming forcibility and heaviness dissipate severely since Soundgarden's break-up. For instance, on this cd, his drumming is as proud as one can be over it. Not the echelon of a Danny Carey from Tool, but notwithstanding still laudable in its weighty hits, definite crashes and regular-timed speed. Even if you're uninformed about the particulars of drumming, you could hear, just by the untrained ear, on this album, how steady, constant and sure-handed Cameron's drumming was on this record, in a miserable, ghastly and exact contrast to how his drumming "skills" have since absolutely died into the most lousily off-beat sloppiness with PJ.
The nature of almost all the songs pressure you to start beating your head in more or less the same banging rhythm. They are definitively ALL addictive in their grossly pleasing melodies, and induce inordinate satisfaction with them. To name a few of the mercilessly frequent highlights, 'Room A Thousand Years Wide' is undoubtedly the most impeccable for me on this cd. It somehow manages to strike especially the most righteous feelings and mindset, with its unrelentingly rumbling drive, and its epic-invoking, daunting instrumentals. Another standout one is 'Holy Water'. 'Holy Water' provides a stealthy lull before Cornell unloads his purported rage in the chorus. It also incorporates a tireless, grating, crunching beat that will torture you into submission to it. Not to mention that Thayil hits some relevantly key notes in his solos, and, as covered beforehand, with the instrumentals consistently playing at their noisiest and most shredding, Cornell's singing notes are wailed at their most glass-breaking also, which is a placating accompaniment to the song's stridor. Interesting to take heed of, just out of a contrast, is the song 'Mind Riot'. Here Soundgarden display their diversity and variety through a song which isn't played as stridently as the rest, but has Cornell's rich voice resonating throughout, and more vociferous guitar fuzz, which is arranged beautifully in accordance with the song's lyrics.
If you like metal music, Tool and Alice In Chains for instance, then patronize this album over any other Soundgarden record. It's Soundgarden at their purest fundamental metal thrashing, before they strayed from the path of true righteousness with their subjection to desperately procure a wider audience with Superunknown and the even worse disaster afterwards.