So, back when I was a teenager, something that was very important to my music appreciation was the concept of the Album of Imminent Suck. Basically, if a band released an Album of Imminent Suck, which was was itself usually not a bad album, then one of two things would happen: either the band would break up or everything they released thereafter would Suck.
Each new album release by a favorite band was therefore an occasion for some anxiety, as it had to be scrutinized for the varied and subtle signs of imminent suckage. I can remember the rush of relief I felt on hearing Soundgarden's Superunknown
for the first time and feeling absolutely certain that it was not their Album of Imminent Suck, and the equally crushed when I heard Down on the Upside
, because despite containing some of Soundgarden's best tunes, it was the clearest example of an Album of Imminent Suck I'd heard in some time. The band proved me right by breaking up not long thereafter.
Of course, now I've reached the age at which dearly beloved bands of my youth that succumbed to Suck decades ago are now reuniting. And I find myself cautiously excited. Is it possible that my 18-year-old self did not know everything about the creative lifecycle of bands, and there might be a path back from the pit of Suck?
Soundgarden have released "Been Away Too Long", the first single from their upcoming new album, and on the basis of one listen, I'm prepared to say it doesn't suck. I wouldn't quite call it a home run - the lyrics are a little self-referential for my taste, and it doesn't have the sheer grandeur of my favorite Soundgarden tracks. But it's got a nice chuggy little guitar riff, somewhat reminiscent of "My Wave" from Superunknown
You can listen on Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/soundgarden/been-away-too-long
. (They've disabled embedding, alas.)
Of course, there are also bands that just defy the simple pattern of the Album of Imminent Suck altogether. My Dying Bride have seemed like they were going off the rails a number of times during their 20+ year career, but always seem to find their way back to equilibrium. They have an album coming out in a couple of weeks, and have released a preview track called "Kneel 'Till Doomsday".
It doesn't suck either, although I have an unreasonable fondness for violin played over downtuned guitars (a combination that, as far as I know, is unique to My Dying Bride), so I'm predisposed to like it: