Soundgarden | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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There will always be bands like Soundgarden: thunderously loud metalheads with pretensions to seriousness and both a corps of proletarian followers and a back choir of gullible critics to urge them on. Starting with their major-label debut, Louder Than Love, in 1989, their ponderous releases have been gobbled up by fans and hailed as breakthroughs one by one; their latest, Superunknown, debuted at number one. Their achievement? "Smart" heavy metal, it's said, the best since Zeppelin. Keep your shirt on. Superunknown is the band's best album, but that's not saying much. Sure, the blistering synthesized guitar sound on "The Day I Tried to Live," the neat chorus riff that rises once or twice from the morass of "My Wave," and the psychedelic-overdrive climax of "Black Hole Sun" demonstrate sonic know-how beyond the ken of most metal practitioners. But at root--from the thuds-and-harmonics charmlessness of "Limo Wreck" to the screechy wails of "Let Me Drown"--these are just nicely recorded metal riffs set to the usual adolescent concerns of the genre: depression, suicide, and mass murder. One remembers that this is just the sort of stuff that got Judas Priest into trouble a few years back. They got off eventually, of course, but watch it, guys: a jury might decide you're smart enough to have known better. Friday and Saturday, 7:30 PM, Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence; 559-1212 or 561-9500.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kevin Westenberg.

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