on July 8, 2017 | Last updated May 17, 2020
SoundgardenSlaves & Bulldozers
Release Type: User Audio Type: Single-track Reductions: Yes (Auto/CAT) Pitched Vocals: Yes Vocals Gender: Male (2)
UPDATED 5/17/2020: Drums only updated
GUITAR: naginalJJ/Cheesecake Militia
“Slaves and Bulldozers,” a seething seven-minute crawl where Thayil spends most of the time strangulating his guitar strings for spasms of noise that almost seem to emanate from an inhuman source. If you've ever been rendered speechless by the sight of the ocean, stars, volcanic activity—anything that suddenly makes you aware of your minuscule place in the order of life—Thayil’s “leads” (if they can even be called that) surge with the same coldly neutral ferocity.
Meanwhile, even when Cornell unleashes his famous throat-scraping roar on the line “now I know why you’ve been shaking,” the enormity of the music feels choked back rather than triumphant. In sharp contrast to other heavy music—which is mostly designed to take frustration out on external targets—Soundgarden's signature rumble doesn’t give you an athletic rush. All of that gnashing turmoil on “Slaves and Bulldozers” actually points inward, collecting in your muscle tissue as a kind of seismic potential energy. And when the entire band pulls back for Cornell to switch to a bluesy murmur before the song’s wailing climax, Soundgarden show a command of dynamics they simply hadn’t been capable of before.