Critics and fans were skeptical, cueing reruns of Almost Live's "The Lame List," but the Soundgarden reunion album King Animal dropped today and brings back the flannel-and-chains sound of the '90s with a vengeance. "King Animal is a weirdly cool beast to encounter in 2012—like running into a mastodon in a Melvins T-shirt," writes Rolling Stone's Jon Dolan. "They haven't forgotten how to stomp out the jams: Thayil is still a warlock guitar conjurer of the first order, and Cornell rolls around his multi-octave range like some kind of backwoods metal-Mariah." The Washington Post agrees. So does Consequence of Sound. In other words: Grunge lives. And with Soundgarden, it sounds ageless.

After a 15-year break, themes have strayed from the "Black Hole Sun" days, but the band still embraces the darkness and uncertainty of the future. "Don't know where I'm going, I just keep on rowing," Cornell moans on a softer track, "Rowing."

We know where you're going, Chris. Back to Seattle on a reunion tour. Soundgarden will play the Paramount February 7 and 8 and tickets go on sale this Saturday, November 17, at 10am. It feels like you've been away for far too long.

Soundgarden
Feb 7 & 8 at 8, Paramount Theatre, $67 + fees

Watch the video for Soundgarden's first single off King Animal, "Been Away Too Long."