As demonstrated by this coolly calculated return after a lengthy hiatus, the founders of the original Seattle set were always more about progressive funk rock than gooey grunge.
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This record is about the artful construction of patterns rather than bludgeoning the listener with leaden riffs, although comparisons to Led Zeppelin will continue to be drawn.
Chris Cornell’s solo adventures have included a Bond theme for Casino Royale, the distinctly un-007-like You Know My Name, and fronting hard rock supergroup Audioslave. But he truly never sounded as at home as he does back in the Soundgarden bosom, that rasping gift of a rock voice pushing the envelope, as you might expect of a man with a four-octave range.
Been Away Too Long celebrates the band’s return, with little ceremony but lots of chutzpah; it’s high octane sophisticated rock music, decorated with the periodic gentle flourish. The most artful music on the album comes in Bones Of Birds, a song which is as delicate as it sounds. Cornell attributes that sensitivity to the stress of parenthood, an ongoing trauma reflected in the simple lyric. That ability to set your fillings rattling is channelled here in the uncompromising Non-State Actor: “We’re not elected – but we will speak.” Not exactly a call to arms, but a snarl at the political animals having it all their own way.
Download this: Been Away Too Long, Bones Of Birds