”Nevermind:” 25 years of quintessential grunge rock

Nirvana’s iconic commercial hit marked a milestone on Sept. 24



Kyle Kohner, Writer

The late singer/songwriter Kurt Cobain not only spearheaded one of the greatest rock acts in history with one of the most influential albums ever, but largely ushered in an era of music that still impacts the music audiences consume today.

Primally energetic guitar riffs

Rock music found itself in an awkward phase in the early 1990s as hair metal bands of the ‘80s saw a steep decline. Listeners yearned for a breath of fresh air to sweep them of their feet. Insert: Nirvana.

After a shuffling of drummers and the release of their humble debut album “Bleach” through independent label Sub Pop in the 1980s, the trio of Cobain, Dave Grohl and Chris Novocelic were ready to catapult the genre of alternative rock into the commercialized stratosphere.

The grungey trio released their first commercial album, “Nevermind” on Sept. 24, 1991 under the label DGC Records, and the flannel-wearing punk rockers became a sensation overnight.

The grunge sound featured in “Nevermind” had already existed with Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. However, Cobain pushed the then polarizing sound into the national spotlight.

Delving straight into “Nevermind,” the seamless flow of the album shines. Cobain and company allow for a palatable listen despite the primally energetic guitar riffs that exceptionally coexist alongside Grohl’s pounding percussion.

“Nevermind” saturates in the filthy Pacific Northwest grungy scowls that were previously used by the likes of previous acts. However, “Nevermind’s” catchy hooks and thrashing distorted guitar riffs separate Nirvana from their filthier Northwestern counterparts.

Forever a monumental album

“Nevermind” fully cemented Cobain’s status as an exceptional songwriter. His lyricism strived as innovative in the rock genre at the time. The very metaphorical hit song “Polly” exemplified Cobain’s lyrical genius. Three years before his unfortunate death, “Nevermind” exposed Cobain’s mental abrasions, which provided a foundation to a diamond certified record. Cobain exemplified great talent despite all the demons he faced. Through all his pain, Cobain still found gratification in rock’s most resounding platitudes and twisted them to his own sadistically somber means.

This iconic masterpiece drives itself with painful, vulnerable and personal experiences that contort yet elevate Cobain’s unique expression. Despite this concoction of transcendental vibes and themes, this album still has moments of sarcasm and fun. The contrasting yet complementary vibes help form “Nevermind” into a bewitching piece of art, a compilation of anthems that still cling on to the peculiarities that brought the band stardom.

From hit single “Smells like Teen Spirit” all the way to end with “Endless, Nameless,” Nirvana’s “Nevermind” is one of the most impactful albums in not only music history but societal history for better or for worse. Musically, “Nevermind” had a drastic influence on later alternative grunge rock acts as well as the post grunge bands that would follow in the late ‘90s, especially with their melodic cuts such as “Come As You Are.”

With its musical impact, “Nevermind” had even stronger social repercussions. Cobain became a trailblazer for teenagers for being an unaccepted idiosyncratic scumbag. He influenced a generation to pour out their hearts in anything they do, like making music.

Despite the unwanted self-destruction that came with the meteoric rise of Nirvana, “Nevermind” will forever stand as a monumental record that has had a tremendous, unbridled power that transcends pain into pure catharsis.

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