Following the primal, no-frills rock majesty of Rather Ripped, the great American juggernaut that is Sonic Youth expands on the formula with a more opened up, liberated album - their first for Matador. The Eternal kicks off in a violent storm; an "out-of-the gate hardcore matinee track" as Thurston Moore would have it, fronted by an on-form, ageless Kim Gordon. The sublime proto-grunge riffology carries over into 'Anti-Orgasm'; a barrage of arch feminist-punk sloganeering that divides itself into two halves, the first presenting a snarling line-up of guitars while the second ebbs into a carefully poised kraut-surf rock soundscape. Sounding every bit like a modern SY classic, 'Antenna' has a certain Beatles-y quality to it whilst maintaining a sufficient level of abrasion via some nerve-jangling guitar manipulations. Further highlights come thick and fast from here on out, with surly Mark Ibold basslines propping up the Lee Ranaldo-fronted 'What We Know', while the excellent 'Malibu Gas Station' mires itself in a certain sinister sleaziness - "an ode to the flash moment of the camera as you knowingly step from your SUV sans panties" appropriately delivered with all the nervous confusion of a Britney breakdown. Perhaps a testament to Sonic Youth's own longevity, and all-round status as elder statesmen of subterranean music, large chunks of The Eternal reference and eulogise alternative culture's departed: the sleeve is a painting by guitar great John Fahey, while NYC beat poet Greg Corso is commemorated on 'Leaky Lifeboat', and 'Thunderclap (For Bobby Pyn)' pays tribute to The Germs' frontman Darby Crash - though it could equally be taken as a broader eulogy for LA's post-punk scene of the late '70s and early '80s. Sonic Youth fulfill a great many roles, and in addition to persistently being one of the great bands of our time, The Eternal shows that they're also historians of the underground; a living, working museum to all the obscure bands, sub-scenes and musical tributaries they've come into contact with and drawn influence from (or for that matter, themselves influenced) over a lifespan. God knows where we'd be without them.