Nevermind Hits 26: The Golden Age of Grunge
September 24, 2017
On this day in 1991, famed grunge group Nirvana released Nevermind, an album that reached gargantuan heights from both a commercial and critical standpoint. So, in honor of the 26th anniversary of this endlessly influential, groundbreaking album, here is Valor Dictus’ take on the five greatest grunge albums of all time.
- Core (Stone Temple Pilots)
The debut album from Stone Temple Pilots was released on Sept. 29, 1992, a little over a year after Nevermind. While STP would never achieve quite the same level of prominence as the other grunge acts with albums featured on this list, their work here comprises an impressive array of tracks. From assorted songs ranging from “Plush” to “Wicked Garden” to “Creep,” the powerful vocals of late lead singer Scott Weiland (who passed away in 2015) set the tone for Core, an essential album for any grunge enthusiast.
- In Utero (Nirvana)
Nirvana’s third and final album prior to the tragic suicide of frontman Kurt Cobain solidified the Seattle trio’s status as the most influential grunge band of all time. Released on Sept. 21, 1993, In Utero perfectly blends Cobain’s melancholy vocals with current Foo Fighters star Dave Grohl’s terrific drumming and bassist Krist Novoselic’s strong guitar work, with Cobain playing lead guitar himself. Featuring enduring hits like “All Apologies,” “Heart-Shaped Box,” and “R*** Me,” Nirvana proved that the success of Nevermind was no fluke.
- Superunknown (Soundgarden)
Soundgarden’s magnum opus, released in 1994, established the band as yet another Seattle-based powerhouse in the realm of grunge. The late, great Chris Cornell’s captivating singing and lyricism, paired with each track’s distinct instrumentalism, are what truly enrich songs like “Fell On Black Days,” “The Day I Tried To Live,” “Spoonman,” and the band’s most popular song, “Black Hole Sun.” Superunknown ensured that Soundgarden’s legacy would live on in music history, cementing the group as a genre mainstay.
- Nevermind (Nirvana)
Released on this date in 1991, Nevermind is widely considered to be the quintessential grunge album. Nirvana’s second studio album (after 1989’s Bleach and before 1993’s In Utero, which ranks at number four on this list) includes many of the band’s lasting classics, with a handful of undeniable grunge anthems: “Come As You Are,” “Lithium,” “In Bloom,” and, of course, the trio’s ultimate claim to fame, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The record also contains somewhat less well-known—but nonetheless fantastic—tracks like “Polly” and “Drain You.”
- Ten (Pearl Jam)
Pearl Jam’s masterful Ten—released a mere month before Nevermind—takes the top spot in this ranking. Fueled largely by Eddie Vedder’s transcendent vocals and Mike McCready’s exceptional lead guitar playing, this album perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Pearl Jam. With such iconic Pearl Jam classics as “Black,” “Jeremy,” “Even Flow,” and “Alive” (the latter of which features an unforgettable, electrifying guitar solo that marks some of McCready’s best work to date), to name a few, Ten stands alone as the pinnacle of grunge and the Seattle sound.