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5 Bands like Soundgarden: Tigers in a Rusty Cage
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5 Bands like Soundgarden: Tigers in a Rusty Cage

Kedar Prasana itcherCome, gather round, grunge maniacs and alternative rock souls: we have a sure-shot way to some cool, late-night eargasms with this selection of 5 bands like Soundgarden – handpicked just for you! Along with Seattle favourites Mother Love Bone, Mad Season and Skin Yard, we also have some Southern chutzpah with Days of the New, and some Eastern promise with Helmet. Read on, rock on! ~ Kedar Prasana

Louder… Much Louder than Love!

What more can be said about a band like Soundgarden that has enjoyed triumphant peaks of gargantuan successes (Metallica, yes – those rusty rockers used to be avid Soundgarden fanswho’d have thought?) and abysmal depths of forgettable failures?

Soundgarden, assembled by none other than the long-time shadowy leader of grunge, Chris Cornell, started out in the early 80s in Seattle. Mind you, this was much before the words ‘Seattle’ and ‘rock’ (of any genre) were fairly useable in a single sentence.

Now, for a handful of those millions who fall back on itcher in hopes of finding a similar source of pure joy and rebel spirit, this round-up of bands similar to Soundgarden might be a long-time-a-comin’ revelation.

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Bands Similar to Soundgarden…

Mother Love Bone

Essential Albums: ‘Apple’.

Essential Tracks: ‘Bone China’, ‘Gentle Groove’.​

As far as sample sets go, this would probably be the weakest link of the chain. But somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to omit what many consider a quintessential Seattle-grunge band that, despite releasing only one album and going through traumas of losses, led to the founding of some true grunge torchbearers like Temple of the Dog and Pearl Jam.

Wood and Fairweather’s awe-inspiring collaboration in ‘Apple’ introduced a new angle of keyboard-guitar harmony to angry rockers – something that had hardly been achieved before.  

Similarity Match: 90%
Soundgarden and Mother Love Bone, in spite of their crazy antics and frolics, share one great denominator – classic rock n’ roll beat. While one album isn’t much to draw from, obvious dissimilarities include the vocal-heavy sounds of Soundgarden and guitar-heavy sounds of Mother Love Bone.

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Mad Season

Essential Albums: ‘Above’.

Essential Tracks: ‘River of Deceit’, ‘I’m Above’, ‘Lifeless Dead’.

Although the grunge wave is all but spent now (it’s been a while), it never ceases to amaze me how many grunge bands seamlessly merge into one another, like diffusing colours of a VIBGYOR spectrum that only reminds us it’s all eventually black and white.

Mad Season was a supergroup formed by the members of various Seattle grunge bands, most notably Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. But good things can’t last long. Too much powder in this bullet meant that the band could only release one half-cooked album that promised a lot more than it ever delivered.

Tracks like ‘River of Deceit’, however, are still good enough to evoke some solid grunge aura, right in the league of Soundgarden.

Similarity Match: 85%
An eerie connection between Soundgarden and Mad Season is that the former led to a supergroup, while the latter was led to a supergroup. Obvious lack of accomplished repertoire, however, puts Mad Season many rungs below Soundgarden.

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Skin Yard

Essential Albums: ‘Skin Yard’, ‘1000 Smiling Knuckles’, ‘Start at the Top’.

Essential Tracks: ‘She Shook Me Cold’, ‘1000 Smiling Knuckles’, ‘Psychoriflepowerhypnotised’.

Soundgarden and Skin Yard were true contemporaries, great colleagues and frequent collaborators – before Soundgarden chose to go all-out mainstream, that is. In many ways, fans who felt betrayed by this paradigm shift still worship Skin Yard today, but I can assure you that there aren’t many left.

Being constant competitors, their styles rubbed off on each other’s music. Most remarkably, ‘Skin Yard’ (1987) had an enormous influence on the loved-and-hated ‘Ultramega OK’ (1988) by Soundgarden.

Similarity Match: 75%
Skin Yard and Soundgarden primarily differ in popularity. On musical fronts, there is much to juxtapose them without contrast – especially their ever-changing line-ups and unique penchant for slight fusion of non-grunge styles with hard-hitting grunge.

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If You Like Soundgarden, You Will Like…

Grunge is Seattle and Seattle is grunge – there are no two ways about it.

But how do rockers in other parts of the US – and, indeed the rest of the world – channel their dissent?

That’d be worth finding out!  And, by the way, the bands that follow are still active and touring. Good news, yeah?

Days of the New

Essential Albums: ‘Days of the New’, ‘The Crow: Salvation’.

Essential Tracks: ‘Shelf in the Room’, ‘Touch, Peel and Stand’, ‘Face of the Earth’.

The last place you could hope to find a grunge band is a mid-sized town in Kentucky, famous for its steakhouses and Blues masters. But then again, there are exceptions to all rules.

Days of the New, formed in 1995 in Louisville with a generous dose of Midwestern calibre to boot, has defied many odds to end up with a solid repertoire, spearheaded ably by the all-round genius of Travis Meeks.

Although they don’t have too much to show for their efforts, lend an ear to now-classics like ‘Shelf in the Room’, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be seeing shades of Soundgarden in the ways they use hooks and bridges.

Musically, both of these bands have quite sternly – at times religiously – stuck to what they do best, rather than pushing the boundaries. One big difference though – Days of the New have adapted personnel-wise, while Soundgarden were unable to do so and diffused once the road got tougher.

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Helmet

Essential Albums: ‘Strap It On’, ‘Meantime’, ‘Size Matters’.

Essential Tracks: ‘Unsung’, ‘In the Meantime’, ‘Give It’.

Balance is the way of nature, and perhaps, that’s the reason behind the rise and growth of Helmet.

Born out of a sheer need to balance the West Coast’s dominance on the grunge scene, Helmet brought the needle back on the neutral, making sure that the scales aren’t tipped westwards.

Page Hamilton – the man, the riff and the voice of Helmet – has single-handedly carried the band for over two decades, matching Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, stroke for stroke.  

Even though Helmet and Soundgarden differ greatly in their local flair (NYC vs Seattle, you see), their manic albums — especially ‘Betty’ and ‘Superunknown’ — largely defined the second tier of the whirlwind 90’s, with pseudo-political lyrics and a borderline metal-ward shift of grunge.

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Fopp the Floor Away!

That’s right! Take the floor like you mean it!

If you still need more avenues to to vent some pent-up angst, there’s hardly any better company than Soundgarden and similar bands listed above. But that dose might not suffice one and all. For further listening pleasures, you can explore the rushed genius of Mad Season, the thumping harmony (or lack thereof) of Tad, and some tunes from Down Under by Silverchair.  

Like ever, do feel free to let your comments, suggestions and remarks roll in right below this article. We look forward to reading them!

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