Soundgarden were responsible for making heavy metal hip in the late-'80s American underground. Fueled by the primal, sub-Sabbath riffing of guitarist Kim Thayil and the shrieking wail of vocalist Chris Cornell, Soundgarden offered a revamped, post-punk take on heavy metal, adding a significant amount of angst and irony. After a series of late-'80s independent releases, Soundgarden signed to A&M; their first major-label album, Louder Than Love, was released in 1989. Before Nirvana tore down the doors, Soundgarden had earned a following larger than any other Seattle band. But their real mainstream breakthrough didn't come until 1994, when they released the critically acclaimed Superunknown, which sold over three million copies and established Soundgarden as one of the most popular rock bands of the era. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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