Jul 152011
Rock Band DLC

Harmonix has been talking about this batch of DLC for a couple weeks now, so the only real surprise is how many pro charts are available this week (four total, one legacy). It’s a pretty simple test to gauge your excitement level about the DLC. Do you like Soundgarden? If so, congratulations! If not, tune in next week because that’s all we have.


The Songs

* Soundgarden – “Blow Up the Outside World
* Soundgarden – “Burden in My Hand+
* Soundgarden – “Fell on Black Days
* Soundgarden – “Outshined+
* Soundgarden – “Rusty Cage
* Soundgarden – “The Day I Tried to Live+

Pro-guitar legacy upgrade:
* Soundgarden – “Pretty Noose” +

+ = pro-guitar/bass chart available


The Thoughts

If you’ve been reading my DLC commentary for the past few years then you probably by now have a pretty good handle on my music tastes and know that I have a weird relationship with grunge/early to mid-90s alt rock. It’s arguable that no group embodies that more than Soundgarden. Thus “excited” isn’t exactly the word I’d use as I get ready to listen to many of these songs for the first time since high school. But on the other hand I note how pleasantly surprised I’ve been to hear songs and groups that I hated then and rediscover and appreciate them now. Perhaps that’ll happen for Soundgarden as well.

The first song in the pack is “Blow Up the Outside World”. It’s more a emotion than a song to me. The whole thing is one big mood, and as you might expect it’s not exactly a pleasant one. In a nice change it’s the bass that stands out most to me in this song, though more for tone than intricacies – it’s a simple riff that so well encapsulates the atmosphere of the song. Overall as a song the word that springs to mind is “sedated”; I feel like the song shot itself up on something an hour before talking to us. Great for mood, great for emotion, but to play in the game? Not for me.

“Burden in My Hand” kicks off with a very different feeling. Chris Cornell wails from moment one accompanied by … a ragtime piano? That’s actually kind of awesome. The song as a whole in fact was a very pleasant surprise. I don’t get all tingly at Cornell’s voice as seems to be the norm so I was mostly ignoring him and I’m glad I did; the instrumentation in this song is pretty exciting. It’s all very busy, but not overpowering and comes together well for a song that’s superficially upbeat but with a sinister undercurrent. A definite maybe. (Listening to it again I’m not 100% certain if this has piano in it or not, but I sincerely hope so.)

Next is “Fell on Black Days” which is pretty much what I think when I think of the group. It does nothing for me. All heavy sound with basic riffs, some effect-driven guitar noodling and plenty of Cornell’s trademark vocal stylings. It is the Soundgardeniest of all Soundgarden.

Then there was “Outshined” which it seemed was on MTV and the radio constantly at one point. Despite how many times I must’ve heard it, I must say it’s a hell of a lot more metal than I remember. The whole thing is a sort of murky soup for me with the occasional riff or lyric surfacing for a just moment before being swallowed up by the rest of the song.

What most stands out with “Rusty Cage” is how the guitar sounds just slightly off. It lends the whole song an unsettling feeling that’s bombarding you from all sides. For the first three minutes anyway, then the whole thing changes tempo dramatically and nearly becomes an entirely new song. All told this is an odd one, but I think will provide one of the more interesting challenges for the game this week.

And finally there’s “The Day I Tried to Live” which I’d forgotten until I heard it just now. It’s a surprisingly optimistic song despite the tone, and makes for a good endcap to the pack. The instruments in this one are fairly standard and unexceptional, at least as compared to the rest of the choices, but I think this one is my favourite vocal melody. It’s different enough that I recommend giving it a listen if you’re not sold on Soundgarden’s style.


The Summary

It’s pretty clear this isn’t a pack custom made for me this week, which made it all the more a pleasant surprise to find myself quite liking “Burden in My Hand” – but probably only that. I do like “The Day I Tried to Live” probably best as a song out of any other this week but I can’t see me playing it in the game more than maybe once or twice. For everyone not me? Well if you’re a fan of Soundgarden I expect you’re thrilled with this pack and certainly don’t need me to tell you what’s awesome and what isn’t. If you’re just looking to pick up one or two though, then truthfully you can’t go wrong but I think “Burden in My Hand” and “Rusty Cage” are standouts in terms of (my assumed) gameplay.

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