Reprinted without permission from PULSE!, October 1991
CHOOSE YER POISON: ZEP RIP, AC/DC RIFFS OR DEATH TRIP
For all the '70s-revisionist kudos that have been slobbered over Soundgarden, it's the band's unabashedly and daft are-rock leanings that really keep its stuff interesting. Just from the title Badmotorfinger (A&M) alone, you can tell that these four lovegoats are up to their old tricks: turning heavy-metal aesthetics on their side in a manner that Louder than Love, their major-label debut, flubbed most egregiously (that's Bill & Tedspeak). Soundgarden instinctively knows that heavy metal is a lark; vocalist Chris Cornell's Plant-esque histrionics are merely the ruse that keep the looping, stunningly repetitious "Rusty Cage" or the maddening "Drawing Flies" from lapsing into pile-ups of undisciplined stray noise. Even when cornered by its own Zep/Sab jokery on the closer, "New Damage", out comes Kim Thayil's incendiary guitar and look out! Unrelenting noise minimalism, beards, irony, big rock, sweaty torsos, absurd nuances of sound. And yeah, total fucking godhead.