Published on October 11th, 2012 | by Phoenix0
Soundgarden Releases Comeback Single
When looking at the title of Soundgarden’s latest single, one has to wonder if it’s supposed to refer to the band’s breakup and recent reformation. “Been Away Too Long,” is the lead single for the Seattle grunge band’s first album since 1996, King Animal. Soundgarden was formed in Seattle in 1984, and soon became part of what I call the Grunge Triangle with Pearl Jam and Nirvana. These bands fueled the movement, but in my opinion, Soundgarden always had the most creative music that came out of it. They mixed hard-driving rock with forays into psychedelia that, along with their lyrics and lead singer Chris Cornell’s titantic vocal range, gave their music a creativity that the other two bands’ lacked. Pearl Jam and Nirvana, to me, were much simpler and less interesting, and featured less talented vocalists.
Soundgarden broke up amid internal strife in 1997, with bassist Ben Shepard commenting that the band was “eaten up by the business.” Cornell enjoyed the most success on his own, forming the supergroup Audioslave with ex-members of Rage Against the Machine, and releasing a few solo records (including an interesting poppy record, Scream, that he recorded with Timbaland). But on New Year’s Day 2010, Cornell tweeted that his old band had reformed. They embarked on a tour or two, reintroducing themselves to the listening public with the retrospective collection Telephantasm, which included two new singles, “Black Rain,” and “The Telephantasm.” They also recorded the excellent single “Live to Rise” for the Avengers soundtrack.
“Been Away Too Long” largely picks up where the band left off 15 years ago. The instrumental line is reminiscent of the band’s single “My Wave,” with the guitar chords accentuated by especially strong bass backbeats. Cornell emphasizes all the best elements of his voice, utilizing the rock wail that he employed so well during the band’s heyday. But just as importantly, he doesn’t overdo it. Soundgarden sticks to the heavy, yet active sound that characterized them before (this song even sounds like it could fit in on their 1994 album Superunknown). They even retain a little of their characteristic weirdness (but, again, not too much) with two guitar interludes toward the end of the song. The first is high-pitched, and the second is sort of percussive and leads into the last verse, where the instruments and Cornell’s voice blend together well. The song is lyrically interesting as well, describing a feeling of someone coming back home who doesn’t really want to be there, but still identifies with the place a little. Nobody knows him anymore, so he feels as if he’s just blending into the scenery. Overall, while it took me a few listens to get into it, I still feel that this is a solid comeback single for Soundgarden, and builds anticipation for King Animal’s release on November 13.