"I've been away for too long" sings Chris Cornell at the beginning of Soundgarden's new album. He's got that right: it's been 16 years since the Seattle grunge titans burnt out and folded and King Animal is their first new material since 1996's Down on the Upside.
So it's a shame the reunited quartet don't spend more of their seventh record proving just what a bruising sonic force they can be. Instead, they seem hell-bent on trying to be an older, wiser and - whisper it - more mature version of their raucous incarnation.
The results are uneven: Black Sunday kicks off like an updated Black Hole Sun but meanders, Non-State Actor rumbles along but never really takes off and Attrition threatens to explode but gets cheesy with its "hoo-hoo" chorus.
It's not all bad: By Crooked Steps and Blood on the Valley Floor recall the band's Louder Than Love long-haired metaller days, Eyelids Mouth has a searing Kim Thayil solo, and Cornell unleashes that hair-raising scream of his on slow burning closer Rowing. But they're a world away from bloodcurdling anthems like Outshined and Spoon Man.
It does enough to erase those awful memories of Cornell's scream solo shocker, but King Animal resembles a dog that's been caged for too long and has forgotten to bark before it bites.
Verdict: Grunge gods grow up, results so-so
Click here to buy King Animal by Soundgarden.
- TimeOutBy Chris Schulz @chris__schulz Email Chris