Reprinted without permission from Who Weekly, June 10, 1996


Apart from being Seattle residents, Soundgarden's membership in the grunge club was always a strange one. They pre-dated the movement by years, and they've always dwelled on the more metallic side of town, anyway. Now that no-one wants to be associated with the g-word, Soundgarden are scrabbling around all over the place.

Down on the Upside is basically a weaker twin brother to 1994's sprawling Superunknown. There are brooding riff-fests to the left and lurching howlers to the right, with Chris Cornell yowling such lines as "eat the fruit and kiss the snake goodnight" and "standing with my enemies hung on my horns." Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this sound like regular metal? Meanwhile there's the one where they sound just like Pearl Jam ("Zero Chance") and another ("Blow Up the Outside World") that shamelessly repeats the psychedelics of their own previous hit, "Black Hole Sun".

Fortunately, there is some respite, and it comes in the unlikely forms of "Ty Cobb" and "Never Named", speedy blur of songs where Soundgarden are more like a nervy garage band than pompous metalheads. This 'Garden needs some weeding.

Grade: C+