SOUNDGARDEN – Superunknown (1994)

Review by: Nina A
Album assigned by: B.b. Fultz

When you think of nostalgia, you probably think of 80s cartoons and such because these are the properties that have been aggressively revived for the past decade or so for um… your money, yes. But I think the 90s are properly in the nostalgia realm too already as the eventful conclusion to the already very eventful “short century”. Amid hip hop, boybands, collectible bubble gum stickers and regrettable fashion choices there’s always of course heavy metal’s ugly step-sibling: grunge. A genre that, so far as I can tell, nobody who hasn’t been between the ages of I guess 13 and 30 during its peak years cares about much anymore. Sure, Nirvana get played occasionally on the all-purpose throwback radio and so does “Black Hole Sun”, Soundgarden’s megahit from this record, which I imagine its regular listeners attribute to Nirvana too, but nobody seems to be giving grunge extended attention yet. However, I too, occasionally start to miss “the heavy sludge of ‘70s metal” and “the raw aesthetic of ‘80s punk”, and so I approached this record very enthusiastically.
Stretch the bones over my skin
Stretch the skin over my head
I’m going to the holy land
Stretch the marks over my eyes
Burn the candles deep inside
Yeah you know where I’m coming from
Oh… I had forgotten about this. Yeah, it’s gonna be one of those whiny “poetic masterpieces”. People lashed out at emo at the height at its popularity but seriously, I think people back in the 90s could get even cornier, especially in metal. Okay, screw this, let’s look at the music. 
Well, Soundgarden do deliver on their promise of a heavy sound, a heavy psychedelic one at that, and there are some delightful nods to Zep in tracks like “The Day I Tried to Live” and “Fresh Tendrils”. But at some point these tracks seem to really start blending in with each other, and they are neither the most sophisticated examples of the genre nor truly visceral in their nature – frankly, they are kind of forgettable with the possible exception of the above mentioned “Black Hole Sun”, which I assume has earned its vh1 status purely on its anthemic qualities. So you know, all things considered, and although I’d hate to deliver a lazy pun, Superunknown may go on to become indeed um… superunknown.