1. Chris Cornell sounds less like the powerful belter he once was and more like gonads-clamped Sammy Hagar.
2. There isn’t a single song on it as good as anything on Badmotorfinger.
3. There isn’t a single song on it as good as anything on Superunknown minus “Half,” maybe.
4. There isn’t a single song on it as good as anything on Down on the Upside.
5. Kim Thayil, whose intermittent solos on the abovementioned past Soundgarden albums are alternately strange or bluesily fluid or both, now sounds like he’s learning how to play guitar again.
6. Matt Cameron, a drummer who can both defamiliarize songs in 4/4 time and make odd-time signatures groove, whose brilliantly off-kilter fills punctuate past Soundgarden albums, sounds like he thinks he’s still in Pearl Jam.
7. Some of the vocal harmonizing in “Bones of Birds” sound more like Alice in Chains than Soundgarden.
8. The tamboura drone in “A Thousand Days Before” sounds like a cheap exoticizing trick.
9. “Halfway There” is not even halfway there and sounds like an outtake from Cornell’s Euphoria Morning.
10. “By Crooked Steps” does, in fact, take, as Chris Cornell claims, “all of the strange time signature stuff that Soundgarden’s always been known for and kind of [take] it to another level.” Problem is, the level is down.
11. “Attrition” feels like an outtake from a latter-day Pearl Jam, the song living up to its title’s promised diminishing returns.
12. The introductory noise to “Attrition” reminds me of Vernon Reid’s brilliant introduction to a far superior song: Living Colour’s “Information Overload.”
13. The introductory noise to “Worse Dreams” makes me think of Tom Morello, which makes me think not of the incredible Rage Against the Machine, but of one of Cornell’s many post-Soundgarden mistakes, namely, Audioslave.
14. Worse than “Worse Dreams” is the song that follows it, “Eyelid’s Mouth,” a song I’m certain was meant for Audioslave, who probably would have done a better version of it.
15. “Rowing,” the album’s closer, sounds like another Audioslave discard, and the drum machine patch or heavily treated drums on the song is embarassingly bad.
16. There are more than 16 reasons why King Animal isn’t worth the 16-year wait.
John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.