Soundgarden. Where do I even begin with Soundgarden? I used to love this band when I was a kid. Then I grew up.
Then I realized these guys are heavy rock gods.
They’re what you get when you mix Saint Vitus with the Smiths and throw in a hefty amount of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin on top, as long as you remember to keep the Butthole Surfers and the Beatles close at hand. It’s a near perfect sound these lads attained. It’s really sad post-grunge and 2000’s alt-metal had to ruin the yarl, because I feel if more bands learned from Soundgarden, modern rock could’ve been a force to be reckoned with. Then again, we did get a genre dedicated to keeping Soundgarden’s spirit alive— and the record industry had to go ‘n sabotage it by calling it something stupid, like “stoner-rock.”
Is Soundgarden stoner-rock? By the modern definition, they are. At the same time, they also created stoner-rock. It was with 1988’s Ultramega OK that this riff-loving, bluesy, sludgy, alt-tinged, Sabbath-worshiping sound got its modern start.
So that’s a bitta my thoughts on that matter, and I’ll explain them more in-depth in a future blog post, but for right now, let’s focus on this one hidden gem.
Everyone I talk to who even acknowledges ‘Kickstand’ was a song off Soundgarden’s 1994 opus Superunknown has confessed to loving it dearly. And why?
Because it’s pure, raw heavy rock given physical, sonic form.
It is exactly what heavy rock should be: the ultimate fusion of 1970-era Black Sabbath and the 1974-era Ramones. It contains a driving pop-punk chord progression that never rests until it blends perfectly with a pure Sabbathian riff toss-out towards the end, and then it ends when it wants.
Maybe your brain needs to be as devolved as mine to understand why this song kicks millions of years of ass, but anyone who dares say they appreciate the wonders of heavy rock should be able to recognize why this song is one of the best.
It doesn’t rest. That’s one thing I like quite a bit about it, aside from its riffs. It doesn’t pause, it doesn’t quiet down, it just goes and goes. In a future post, I’ll explain why stoner-rock act Nebula’s song ‘So It Goes’ works so well using this same argument: an uptempo punkish song with Sabbathesque riffs and guitarlove is the very definition of heavy rock. The fewer stops, the better.
This is far from the last time we’re gonna hear from Soundgarden on this blog. In fact, it’s far from the last time we’re gonna hear from this particular Soundgarden album. There’s a reason why Soundgarden is beautiful music: they did everything right. Any lesser band would’ve contained imperfections that brought their music down to the level of “pretty good”, but Soundgarden was a friggin’ rock and roll alchemist who created pure, heavy gold from otherwise great-on-their-own elements. To me, they’re up there with the Led Zeppelins and Black Sabbaths and Electric Wizards and Blue Cheers of the world. Will we ever see their kind again?
It depends on if us iGeneration dweebs recognize their heavy rock genius or simply see them as just another cool grunge band.