After taking a 16-year breather, Soundgarden is set to make one of the biggest comebacks of all-time in 2012. The most avant-garde band of the 90's are readying a new album for a tentative spring release and this isn't just a one-off occurrence -- Soundgarden is here to stay.

#1. Soundgarden

Untitled LP Due Spring 2012

We didn't number our other 2012 Music Preview items this year like we did with our Television, Movie, and last year's Music Previews because who's to say what's going to be a better release than the other. All of the albums we previewed for this year will be good in their own respect (hopefully), but there is one release which deserved a little more attention than the others -- the sixth album from Soundgarden.

Soundgarden disbanded in April of 1997 after the politics of the music business and rigorous touring made the band resent their own success enough to unplug from the machine. Frontman Chris Cornell went on to release the solo album 'Euphoria Morning' in 1999 before reluctantly joining the band members of Rage Against the Machine in Audioslave at the urging of mega-producer Rick Rubin -- three albums later he left the band to continue his solo career. Drummer Matt Cameron stepped behind the kit for Pearl Jam in 1998 (a seat he still occupies), while guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Ben Shepherd kept a lower profile doing guest spots from time to time.

What started as the band's efforts to increase their web presence and release old B-Sides and live material turned into a full-on reunion. They tested the waters by headlining Lollapalooza in 2010, released 'Telephantasm' -- a sort of greatest hits with the addition of the previously unfinished track 'Black Rain' -- as well as their first ever live album 'Live on I-5,' and embarked on a brief summer tour in 2011. That momentum steam-rolled into Soundgarden recording a brand new album, which they announced in February 2011 by saying:

"Over the past few months, we've been busy jamming, writing and hanging out together – exploring the creative aspect of being Soundgarden. It feels great. We have some cool new songs that we are going to record very soon. Thank you for all of the support! Loudest Love, Ben, Chris, Kim and Matt”

The band missed the initial goal of a fall 2011 release, but -- as Cornell has stressed in several interviews -- they know that it's important not to force the album and would release it when they felt it was done. In November, Cornell told Billboard that they had just a couple of songs to finish and then would move on to mixing the album -- both of which would happen over the holidays.

As far as the sound of their sixth album -- expect it to sound different, which is technically the same with Soundgarden. They're a band whose sound changed drastically from album to album, but always contained unique combination of Cornell's wide vocal range, Thayil's unpredictable sonic assault, the odd time signatures hammered out by Matt Cameron, with Ben Shepherd somehow tying it all together. Thayil has said the record has some 'Down on the Upside'-esque moments and told Stereogum of the 14 track collection:

"The vibe of the songs is definitely very heavy. We’ve always tried to explore how to make this really heavy, aggressive music without sounding like a bunch of knuckle-dragging meatheads. I think these songs are kind of exploring that idea. Ways of emoting aggression and anger and hostility in ways that feel new."

According to their recent interview in the Australian edition of Rolling Stone, Cornell brought in six or seven of the new songs, while Shepherd and Thayil wrote the music for four or five tracks and Cameron wrote two. All the songs were shaped by the entire band into what Cornell says, "doesn’t feel nostalgic, it feels forward." He also reassured that:

"No matter what, a band that is as creatively powerful as Soundgarden needs to live above and beyond any kind of internal turmoil that might come up, because any internal turmoil is always going to be pretty small compared to what’s at stake."

So get used to it kids, Soundgarden is back for good. The next step in the band's evolution begins with the release of their sixth studio album, which we should hear this spring.

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