Reprinted without permission from Sounds, October 13, 1989

by Roy Wilkinson

Washington State University

The audience sends the Harvey Headbanger Real Rock meter into the danger zone known as false metal. A horde of college brats turn in Disney representations of punk rock pogo power, desperate to make like one of those gig things they've read so much about. The band themselves aren't fake metal; they just come from beyond the realm of the stud-encrusted codpiece.

Soundgarden are power rock stripped clean of all the steroid-fuelled tomfoolery. Sabbath's metal girders may feature in their rock reconstruction, but they're strengthened with the perspective of irony and the foundations are firmly bedded in hardcore and post punk bedrock.

Unlike the rib tickling metal dwarfs - Dio, Manowar - Soundgarden really are giants of rock. Four tall, hirsute bulks, they stalk the stage with the bodies of Flying V Vikings, the minds of philosophy dropouts and the mudane dress sense of the post hardcore US underground.

Vocalist Chris Cornell is what's generally referred to as a Sex God. Such is his hunky prettiness that the Seattle gay press run Soundgarden stories regardless of the band's musical content.

Soundgarden may have mind as well as muscle, but live they're not averse to a little brute force. Guitarist Kim Thayil can twiddle as well as the next axe hero, but wank tech solo activity is restricted in favour of apocalyptic riff warfare. Flower bursts from its introductory psychedelic shimmer, a materpiece of hi-tensile riff damage. Get On the Snake sidewinds into the brain, insidious and subliminally familiar. Riffs like this have been employed before, but Soundgarden's metal-metal position gives them fresh vigour.

Tapping metal's primordial blues roots and wedding these to hardcore's righteous ferocity, Soundgarden are at once age-old and tangibly new.

This Garden Of Riffy Delights is coming your way soon. Book the Flymo now.