By: Arianna Grewal
This month marks the 25th anniversary of Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger album release (October 8, 1991). Industry observers believed Badmotorfinger to be Soundgarden’s breakout hit, however, it was overshadowed by Nirvana’s unexpected success of Nevermind, released the same month. Still, it marked the beginning of the band’s path to fame, and set the band’s brand of alt-infused metal.
Following the release, Soundgarden would soon tour with Guns ‘N Roses, also important for the band’s exposure. Badmotorfinger was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. It captivated fans of grunge with a unique, heavier sound that led to their breakthrough album, Superunknown, released in 1994. In a Loudwire interview, Soundgarden guitarist, Kim Thayil, said “in honor of Badmotorfinger’s 25th anniversary, there will be a reissue of the album.” In a 2014 interview with Billboard, the band stated that the reissue would include additional material; such as live performances.
One of the album’s best tracks is Rusty Cage, which became Badmotorfinger’s greatest hit. The song uses an impactful tempo and interestingly changes the metre and phrasing later on in the song. Singer, Chris Cornell, tried to leave most of the lyrics on this album rather general. He did this because he wanted to “create colorful images” for his listeners, however, the lyrics of the fan favorite Outshined, are rather personal to Cornell. It touches on his fluctuating personality; how he feels like he can be on top of the world at one moment and at rock bottom the next. The main riffs and verses of the song are written in 7/4, instead of the usual 4/4 time but that didn’t prevent it from taking off into the mainstream. When guitarist Kim Thayil was asked about the timing, he said he does not usually even notice he writes songs this way, until he’s done writing.
Jesus Christ Pose was another track on the album encumbered with controversy. Some listeners felt that the song was an attack on Christianity which led to MTV’s ban on the music video (due to the image of a woman being crucified in it). People were too quick to judge the song instead of looking and listening for the actual meaning. It interestingly did not have to do with religion itself, but the annoyance at celebrities who use religious imagery when they want to appear superior to others. When asked, Cornell used Perry Ferrell from Jane’s Addiction as an example of this. Jesus Christ Pose merely showed Chris Cornell’s “disdain for ignorance.”
Other favorites of mine are Room A Thousand Years Wide and Slaves & Bulldozers. These are just a few tracks from Badmotorfinger, but overall, the album has great lyrics, riffs, and a heavier sound than the rest. So take some time, put on Badmotorfinger and take a step back into the 90’s.