Skip to main content

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 029

Match 029:

Alice In Chains "Angry Chair" (1992)
Nirvana "Sliver" (1992)
Pearl Jam "Whipping" (1994)
Soundgarden "I Awake" (1989)

I remember "Angry Chair" being profoundly dark when I first heard it.  Like this was what being in Hell felt like.  Not the "Oh, life is such hell right now," and not the cliché devils, pitchforks and fire, but an actual dimension where you are the only person who has ever heard of compassion and you quickly find out that's the reason you are the perfect victim.  And all the terrible in the world has just noticed you.

Granted, it's a little less scary after a few hundred listens and 25 years of growth as a person (to say nothing of the exponential escalation of terrible in the world at large), but it still builds a hell of an atmosphere.  "Little boy made a mistake" is the point where the seemingly innocuous tilts into the horrific.  It's that point where you were either doing something fun or well-intentioned that couldn't possibly go wrong, and you fuck up and now you've done something you can never take back.  And that's just the beginning.  You see in that instant the long-stretching, long-suffering future ahead of you and the only way to escape the pain and the shame of it all is to die.  Nudge nudge.

The song "Sliver" is an incredibly grounded narrative from the perspective of a five year old who doesn't want to be at his Grandparent's house, kicks and pitches a fit for four verses, then he wakes up in his mother's arms, and wants to go back to Grandma's house.  It's one of the most endearing grunge songs I can think of, because endearing is not a word you'd use for this genre 95% of the time.

"Whipping" seems like it should hit harder than it does.  A lot of production choices take some of the edge off of what could have been a barn-burner that wouldn't have been too out of place on "Vs.", but something's...off.  Something not quite definable.  Like they didn't have the rock knob turned up quite enough.  But all in all it's still got some fire to it, and it's one of the last sane moments on "Vitalogy" before things start to get really weird.

"I Awake" is the last song original bass player Hiro Yamamoto had a hand in writing with the band.  It's a grinder of a song but the lyrics are about someone going through the 9 to 5 grind and telling their significant other they love them in the refrain.  I guess the sludgy friction of the music is there to simulate "the daily grind", but there's quite a disconnect between subject matter and tone.

"Angry Chair": 4
"Sliver": 3
"Whipping": 2
"I Awake": 1

TOTALS:

Pearl Jam: 96
Alice In Chains: 73
Nirvana: 69
Soundgarden: 52

Tomorrow, "Dirt" comes to a close.  Come back to see how good "Would?" dud.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

THE GRUNGE MATCH - Conclusion

This has certainly been a heck of a thing.

Writing this started out as a labor of love to a subgenre of rock and roll that came along at the perfect time for me (both when I was entering middle school in the bottom 5 of the popularity pecking order and when I started buying albums at the impressionable age of 11).  It obviously took a long time to put together: August 29th, 2016 is when I began planning, May 24th is when I wrote the last entry, the wee hours of August 1st, 2017 is when I finished proofreading and uploading the entries to the blog with video links, and here I am typing these words on August 15th.

The elephant in the room is this genre seems to be built on death.  Three of the four frontmen of these bands are dead, one of which occurred during the run of this series.  (Shouts to Alice In Chains bassist Mike Starr as well.  R.I.P.)  On top of that, Pearl Jam only exists because the lead singer of Mother Love Bone died, causing that band to break up.  If you go down the nex…

R.I.P. Chris Cornell

The Grunge Match is suspended indefinitely.

I don't know when it will resume.  This hits way too close to home for way too many reasons.

As far as writing goes, I just did Match 112 Tuesday night.  I have no interest in going back through and making this a love letter to the departed, nor bashing him for tearing our hearts out.  I have no idea when I'll be able to even listen to Soundgarden again, and when I do, it won't be the fucking same so there's no way I can give any kind of objective rating.  Chris Cornell was the soul of that band, the thing that took sludge with a few acrobatic musical flourishes and made it into the hellfire slinging, metal rending monster that it needed to be.

So yeah.  This one hurts.  The man is dead.  The music remains, but is changed forever.  His friends, family and fans are suffering incalculable grief.  There's not much more to say, so silence seems like the best option.

THE NEXT FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 001

Since dusting off The Big Four Song Challenge Series I got to thinking.  What about the other thrash metal giants out there?  There's always been a debate as to who the next four bands would be on the list.  The two constants are always Testament and Exodus, but nobody can agree who's 5 and who's 6.  Then nobody can agree on who the next two bands would be.  Overkill gets thrown around a lot, but they're not really as big as the two bands I've chosen to fill those slots.

Oh yeah.  Probably should have mentioned.  Though you've probably guessed by the blog post title, I am doing a completely new series of blogs called "The Next Four Song Challenge Series".  Same rules, same set up as before and same INSANE amount of blog posts.  The four bands we're going to be covering are as follows:

Exodus
Testament
Sepultura
Suicidal Tendencies

Why not Overkill?  For one, I could never stand the guy's voice, but all told, Sepultura and Suicidal are bigger h…