Tuesday, 12 October 2010

CD Review: Nevermind, by Nirvana (1991)

An album that is most singularly associated with the end of one era and the beginning of another, Nirvana's Nevermind gave a voice to Generation X as the disillusioned youth of the early 1990's.

Tired of their baby boomer parents dictating cultural norms and their older siblings rocking out to vacuous hair metal without a care in a seemingly decaying world, Gen X did not much appreciate the leftover morsels that the world seemed intent on handing down to them. Kurt Cobain almost overnight became their prophet, and Smells Like Teen Spirit their anthem.

Plaid shirts, short hair, and an attitude laced with pessimism and self-hate took over, and Grunge was born, soon to spawn countless imitators and derivatives. Fun was out. Feeling depressed and moaning about it was the new normal, under the name of alternative-something. Glam and its excess died from sudden lack of oxygen; metal survived only in patchy underground circles, and it was years before it was reborn as a healthy and relevant movement.

It's quite a seismic shift in culture and music that has its epicenter with Nevermind. Which is really ironic because musically at least, Nevermind has a large part of its soul immersed in metal, with crunchy guitar chords, extreme vocals, driving bass, booming drums, and high energy delivery. In addition to Smells Like Teen Spirit, tracks like Breed and Territorial Pissings possibly represent metal's simultaneous height and death at the beginning of the 1990's.

Throughout Nevermind, Cobain never fails to impressively convey anguished emotion, whether on the more complex tracks or the slower, more deliberate songs. There isn't a single poor track on the album, and each can stand proudly as part of Cobain's commentary on his world. Chris Novoselic and David Grohl set the standard for bass and drums respectively with a sound that is neither timid nor domineering.

Nirvana moved a bit further away from metal on their follow-up In Utero, and by then the whole grunge and alt movements had turned their backs on most things metal. But if Nevermind was the seed that grew into a movement, the soil in which it was planted was rich in heavy metals.


Kurt Cobain - Vocals and Guitars
David Grohl - Drums and Vocals
Chris Novoselic - Bass and Vocals

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Smells Like Teen Spirit - 10
2. In Bloom - 8
3. Come As You Are - 8
4. Breed - 10 *see below*
5. Lithium - 9
6. Polly - 7
7. Territorial Pissings - 10
8. Drain You - 8
9. Lounge Act - 8
10. Stay Away - 8
11. On A Plain - 7
12. Something In The Way - 7

Average: 8.33

Produced and Engineered by Butch Vig and Nirvana.
Mixed by Andy Wallace.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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