King Animal - Soundgarden

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. Nov 14, 2012
    This is a surprisingly strong reunion, one that puts the band back on the track they abandoned long ago.
  2. 70
    It's right in line with the band's natural progression; so much so that it's almost difficult to believe it didn't come out a decade ago.
  3. 60
    The energy level Soundgarden maintains is certainly admirable for a band whose members are all hovering around 50 years old, but this fairly narrow focus on capital-R Rock songs and little of anything else results in a homogeneity that keeps it from offering the level of depth or surprises that the band's previous albums held.
  4. Nov 8, 2012
    King Animal undeniably draws its strength from the band's accessible Superunknown era, but also takes Soundgarden somewhere fresh.
  5. Nov 27, 2012
    There's nothing bad about these 13 tracks, but nothing remarkable either.
  6. Nov 12, 2012
    They sound more like singer-songwriter leftovers from his solo albums than the stuff of which big rock-band comebacks are made.
  7. Dec 21, 2012
    King Animal bucks the trend by being reasonably good. It is unquestionably a Soundgarden album, and far better than anyone had a right to expect.
  8. 60
    Production issues aside, this record proves that Soundgarden still have their muscle but also hints that they are in the process of figuring out how to flex it again.
  9. Nov 21, 2012
    Whilst this beast will satisfy the ravenous converted, skeptics are set to remain agnostic.
  10. Nov 13, 2012
    As an album King Animal remains a somewhat numbing listen, its components, as excellent as they individually often are, making for a rather wearing collective, undeniably muscular but curiously unmemorable.
  11. 75
    [Skip tepid "Been Away Too Long"] to the latter half, home of the Stonesian psych flourishes ("Attrition")and a bluesy power ballad. [9/16 Nov 2012, p.98]
  12. Dec 10, 2012
    In an era when so many classic bands return to tout but without risking new material, it's a delight to have Soundgarden take that gamble and win. [17 Nov 2012, p.52]
  13. Dec 4, 2012
    A backhanded compliment, sure, but really--things could have been so much worse. [No. 93, p.61]
  14. Nov 21, 2012
    A mighty result. [Dec 2012, p.84]
  15. Nov 8, 2012
    King Animal would have been better had it foregone the regal pretensions and just stuck to being a feral beast. There was clearly the makings of a decent album here, but somewhere along the line it's all gone wrong.
  16. 60
    All those years in Audioslave have smoothed Cornell's appealingly rough edges, and as grand as King Animal occasionally sounds, it lumbers when it should roar.
  17. Nov 15, 2012
    King Animal doesn't sound like a nostalgia-fed cash grab, nor is it poisoned by the desperate commercialism of Cornell's post-Soundgarden projects.
  18. Nov 13, 2012
    While this record lacks the canonizing tracks like "Jesus Christ Pose," "Black Hole Sun," "Spoonman" and "Burden in My Hand," Soundgarden deserves to be commended for recapturing the feeling of grunge and reintroducing it today.
  19. Nov 16, 2012
    The group's first album since 1996 just sounds like the one they would've churned out in 1998.
  20. Nov 16, 2012
    Soundgarden pivots and parries as usual, but a better sense of dynamics is much needed to make the performances truly pop.
  21. Nov 21, 2012
    The rest of King Animal struggles to match "Been Away Too Long" for musical flair or raw energy. [Dec 2012, p.113]
  22. Nov 29, 2012
    King Animal doesn't hit as hard as their really early material, but it's well-paced.
  23. Nov 13, 2012
    It's that old-time sludge that carries him home.
  24. Dec 10, 2012
    The album is less a triumphant return than an example of what happens to most middle-aged rock bands: They've returned as a slightly more conservative version of what made them famous in the first place.
  25. Nov 16, 2012
    Soundgarden made an album here, with all sorts of internal connections and deliberate emotional ebbs and flows.
  26. Nov 13, 2012
    It's neither a trainwreck nor a masterpiece, but it stirs the senses in all the right ways.
  27. 75
    On the whole, King Animal is a welcome return, and though it doesn't reinvent the wheel, it reminds us why these guys were considered the architects of the Seattle scene.
  28. Nov 8, 2012
    Their first new album since 1996 makes a surprisingly good fist of plugging back into the sound that made them the moodiest and heaviest of the Seattle grunge bands.
  29. Nov 12, 2012
    Soundgarden doesn't advance beyond reclaiming its proven strengths on King Animal, but those strengths are substantial.
  30. Nov 15, 2012
    Other than 'Been Away Too Long' there are no obvious singles here. Rather, each track takes on a propulsive and seductive weight far greater than the sum of its parts when listened to in succession.
  31. Nov 15, 2012
    Soundgarden's best material conjures a dense atmosphere of gloom that renders Cornell's angsty lyrics portentous and significant. But few of the songs on King Animal evoke much of anything in the way of feeling.
  32. Dec 11, 2012
    A welcome return. [Jan 2013, p.81]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 70 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Nov 13, 2012
    The Knights of the Soundtable ride again! King Animal is Soundgarden's first studio album since their 2010 reunion, and their first album of new material since 1996's Down on the Upside. And this album was definitely worth the wait. Soundgarden, driven by the wailing (and no less powerful) vocals of Chris Cornell, the mighty guitar riffs of Kim Thayil, the bouncy basslines of Ben Shepherd, and the eclectic and versatile drumming of Matt Cameron, have crafted a magnificent work of rock 'n roll. The overall vibe is similar to that of the band's previous albums Superunknown (IMO their magnum opus) and Down on the Upside. The songs are grungy without sounding nostalgic; instead they sound like a fresh reawakening. The band maneuvers through odd time signatures with ease, performing with vitality despite their older age. There are fast songs and slow songs, heavy rockers and soft acoustic tracks, psychedelic dirges and energetic bursts of alt-metal. Hats off to Soundgarden for making not only an excellent comeback album, but one of the best albums of 2012. Full Review »
  2. Nov 13, 2012
    A triumphant comeback for Soundgarden. King Animal is a perfect followup to Down on the Upside, so much so that it hardly feels like their first album in 16 years. Full Review »
  3. Nov 13, 2012
    If i had to define this album in one word : uneventful. It's not terrible, but it's not great either. Every song feels like mediocrity after mediocrity. Perhaps it is Cornell's voice that is holding it back. Since Audioslave, his works have been in decline. I think die hard Soundgarden fans will be happy enough with new content. The most disappointing thing about this album is that it lacks even one great song. All of them are passable, but no more. Full Review »