Soundgarden - Live From The Artists Den - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Soundgarden - Live From The Artists Den

by James Weiskittel Rating:10 Release Date:2019-07-19
Soundgarden - Live From The Artists Den
Soundgarden - Live From The Artists Den

When Soundgarden went on hiatus back in the late ‘90s, the band left fans with an incredibly potent catalog. Be it the indie-charm of their early releases, their crushing major-label debut (1991's Badmotorfinger), or their underrated swansong (1996’s Down On The Upside), the only thing missing from the band’s resume was a proper live record.

And while 2011’s Live On I-5 finally gave fans an official live release, the record (which was a compilation of live tracks culled from their last tour back in ‘96) was less a testament to the sheer ferocity of a band at their peak and more a candid shot of a group in disarray. Luckily for everyone, Live From The Artists Den finally gives fans a taste of Soundgarden at the top of their game.

Recorded in L.A. back in 2013 (during the King Animal tour cycle), and boasting some 29 tracks, Live From The Artists Den is as comprehensive as it gets. In addition to the obligatory hits (“Black Hole Sun,” “Spoonman,” Fell On Black Days”) and fan faves (“Jesus Christ Pose,” Rusty Cage,” “My Wave”), there are also a handful of tracks from the band’s last album, King Animal, thrown in for good measure. Add to that a couple of rarely (if ever) played gems (“New Damage,” “Blind Dogs”), and you have yourself a damn-near perfect setlist.

It comes as no surprise that the quality of any Soundgarden live performance throughout the years begins and ends with the late Chris Cornell’s voice. And as any fan will tell you, starting in the mid-‘90s, Cornell had his fair share of ‘off’ nights. But by all accounts, Cornell was at the top of his game for much of Soundgarden 2.0’s run, something that this live collection continuously reinforces. 

While much of the band’s later material fell easily within Cornell’s range, it’s downright impressive the way the fifty-something musician handles the blood-curdling screams on the Badmotorfinger gem “Slaves & Bulldozers” or the punk-paced vocals of “Ty Cobb”. As for the rest of the band, everyone here is in top form. Be it the awe-inspiring abilities of drummer Matt Cameron, the ever-present rumble of Ben Shepherd’s bass playing, or Kim Thayil’s Zappa-esque solos, everything that made Soundgarden a completely separate entity from Chris Cornell the solo artist is on full display here.

Live From The Artists Den is available in a variety of formats*, ranging from a standard cd release to a deluxe vinyl package that is chock full of extras. While this collection is clearly aimed at longtime Soundgarden fans, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s also an absolute must-have. As both a testament to one of alt-rock’s most intriguing, enduring bands, as well as a tribute to a fallen icon, Live From The Artists Den is highly recommended.

*This is a review of the audio, but there is also a Blu-Ray release that also warrants checking out.

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