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Ultramega OK (Expanded Reissue)

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Album Review

The best expression of Soundgarden's early, Stooges/MC5-meets-Zeppelin/Sabbath sound, Ultramega OK is a dark, murky, buzzing record that simultaneously subverts and pays tribute to heavy metal. At times, the band and its recasting of over-the-top '70s hard rock seem smirky (Hiro Yamamoto's ridiculous vocal on "Circle of Power"; a "cover" of John Lennon's "One Minute of Silence"); a few, like the cover of "Smokestack Lightning," really do sink into turgid metal silliness. But the best moments are startling fusions of classic metal, punk rock, and psychedelia of the fuzz guitar variety, plus the local flavor of Green River and the Melvins. The difference was, Soundgarden were better songwriters, and their feel for memorable riffs and hooks lends greater power to both the rockers and the creepy, dirge-like slow numbers. It's a shame the album as a whole isn't more fully realized, because when separated out from the filler, the numerous highlights show why Soundgarden had such an enormous impact on the development of grunge. It may not be quite as complex or consistent as some of Soundgarden's later albums, but Ultramega OK is easily the best document of grunge's early, pre-Nirvana days.

Customer Reviews

All your fears are lies

A harbinger of Soundgarden's groundbreaking next LP Badmotorfinger. The LP that effectively crushed Chris' dream career as an artisanal duct tape wallet craftsman.

Stand out cuts are Flower & All Your Lies but this whole LP & this band did for 70's rock & roll what Led Zeppelin did for the blues.

They saw it laying in the ditch all old, forgotten & by it's own lazy, unwilling to sonically progress hands render irrelevant. They snatched it up & made it their own. Put in the Melvin's & Mudhoney's dirty socks and a can of Sterno, squeezed out the juice and drank it with gusto.

Rock to Kim's Jimmy Page like open tuned goodness. Roll with the punch of those lockstep gut bucket drums & bass.


Beyond the wheel is grimy as hell

This album sounds incredible now!

The mixing of the original SST release was terrible, and I could never really get into for this exact reason. But I now have to say that with this newly mixed release, the album has an almost completely new sound to it. The more I listen to it, the more and more it's slowly becoming my favorite Soundgarden album right behind "Badmotorfinger" with "Louder Than Love" in a close 3rd place.


Formed: 1984 in Seattle, WA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '10s

Soundgarden made a place for heavy metal in alternative rock. Their fellow Seattle rockers Green River may have spearheaded the grunge sound, but they relied on noise rock in the vein of the Stooges. Similarly, Jane's Addiction were too fascinated with prog rock and performance art to appeal to a wide array of metal fans. Soundgarden, however, developed directly out of the grandiose blues-rock of Led Zeppelin and the sludgy, slow riffs of Black Sabbath. Which isn't to say they were a straight-ahead...
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