Emerging out of the Seattle grunge-rush of the early 1990s came Soundgarden, a band that mixed the heavy metal of Black Sabbath, the grittiness of rock and the intelligence of the Velvet Underground. Kim Thayil's guitar-riff driven songs coupled with Chris Cornell's nasal vocals created a new sound that sent alterna-fans running to the record stores and dragging the band out from the underground. While they claimed a dedicated fan-base well before Nirvana broke onto mainstream radio, they didn't reach chart success until their 1994 number one album, Superunknown, and the single "Black Hole Sun," ten years after Cornell, Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto first began playing together as Soundgarden. Before grunge became the rage, Soundgarden gained the distinction of becoming one of the first bands to record for Bruce Pavitt's Sub Pop label with their first single "Hunted Down" in 1987. After releasing one more album, 1996's Down on the Upside, they group broke up in 1997.
Despite being grouped in with the grunge movement of the early 1990s, Soundgarden had more music sensibility than the average grunge band, drawing significant influence from the blues-metal of Led Zeppelin. Like Zeppelin, Soundgarden did not allow itself to fall into one category of music, spanning from heavy metal and thrasher rock to slow, humorous pieces like "Spoonman." Even though their albums didn't always break the charts, the catharsis of their smart, dark lyrics, raw, often heavy psychedelic rock and the feeling that they're just on the other side of being in control epitomizes the attitude and sound of grunge before the hype.