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CD review: Soundgarden’s ‘King Animal’

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Three and a half stars
SOUNDGARDEN
King Animal

King Animal, Soundgarden’s first album in 16 years, opens with a song pointedly titled “Been Away Too Long,” but the album actually sounds like the band hasn’t been away at all.

King Animal could easily be a direct follow-up to 1996’s Down on the Upside, although it’s a little leaner than that album and its predecessor, 1994’s Superunknown. That means there isn’t really anything new here, but it’s exciting just to hear the reignited chemistry among the band members, whether it’s guitarist Kim Thayil busting out a thick, heavy riff on “Blood on the Valley Floor” or frontman Chris Cornell unleashing his trademark wail on “By Crooked Steps.”

Even if a few of the songs sound interchangeable, they’re still reliably energetic and forceful. Plenty of reunited bands lose their fire after a long hiatus, but King Animal proves that Soundgarden is as strong a hard rock force as it’s always been.

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