Been Away Too Long is the first single released from Soundgarden’s sixth studio album, King Animal, and serves as its lead-in track. The song’s title is a great reference to the fact that King Animal is the first album from the band after a 13-year hiatus. Soundgarden’s been away too long, but they’re back now, reminding everyone why they became one of the frontrunners of an entire genre back in the 90s.
Fans of Soundgarden’s trademark hard rock-leaning grunge will feel right at home. For someone who’s nearing his 50s (and someone who has just recovered from a crippling drug addiction), Chris Cornell’s voice retains the same intensity it had during his 20s, able to shift between soothing melodies and growling hooks seamlessly. Fans who felt that his stint with Audioslave was too formulaic will be happy to note that Been Away Too Long returns him to his less radio-friendly, but more creative vocal stylings.
Been Away Too Long also features the return of a familiar sound: guitarist Kim Thayil’s midtoned snarling riffs and a short blistering solo. In a way, it reminds people that Soundgarden’s talent goes beyond genres, as the band’s technical virtuosity did not prevent them from finding success in a genre that looks down upon superlative playing (as a lot of grunge music were embraced as a way of rebelling against the formulaic, and overly theatric hair metal of the 80s.). Soundgarden’s been away Too Long, but they’re back now, in fighting form.