Before the team of Chris Cornell (vocals), Kim Thayil (lead guitar), Ben Shepard (bass), and Matt Cameron (drums) made their biggest commercial breakthrough in the classic Superunknown, they released perhaps one of the hardest, rawest, most metallic records out of Seattle. That album is Badmotorfinger, released in 1991.
Badmotorfinger is perhaps Soundgarden at their prime--a tumultous, pummeling titan equal parts Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, with a psychedelic metal tinge. The punky tendencies of the band's earlier material are not present here, except in the two-minute long Face Pollution and Drawing Flies. Most of the songs are 4 minutes or longer, and the band shines in this epic style. Cornell shreds his voice with some of the most impressive wails this side of Robert Plant, Thayil unleashes some suprisingly technical riffs (Rusty Cage is just insane!), and the rhythm duo of Shepard and Cameron is fast, tight, and focused. Odd time signatures are employed to full effect (ex. Outshined, Jesus Christ Pose). I love how the band was experimenting with new ideas, such as horns.
There is not a spot of filler anywhere on the album, at least not to my ear. Everything is excellent, though I'd have to single out the crushing epic Slaves And Bulldozers, the fast-riffing Drawing Flies, and the rolling thunder of Room A Thousand Years Wide as faves.
This is Soundgarden unfiltered--people who love the band for Black Hole Sun probably won't immediately like this harder and less commercial Soundgarden. However, it is every bit the equal of the masterful Superunknown. As good as the other records of 1991 were--Ten, Nevermind, Blood Sugar Sex Magik--Badmotorfinger simply "outshines" them all. Highly reccommended.