Skip to main content

THE GRUNGE MATCH - 036

Match 036:

Alice In Chains "Don't Follow" (1994)
Nirvana "Beeswax" (1992)
Pearl Jam "Immortality" (1994)
Soundgarden "Jesus Christ Pose" (1991)

It's kind of amazing how pastoral the first two thirds of "Don't Follow" sound.  This is some playing a guitar in an autumnal wheat field type shit.  Then a harmonica comes in and paints a little bluesier picture, but at its core the song is a long, deep breath.  It may be resignation, with lyrics like "Pass me down that bottle," but then with about two minutes to go, Layne Staley takes over from Jerry Cantrell and it's like it's time to get out of the field and hitchhike back to the city and deal with real life again.

It's at this point that I realize how painfully average Nirvana really were.  For most of their discography, they coast by on being naturally charismatic and knowing power chords.  They don't try very hard, and most of the time it's fine.  "Beeswax" is fine.  It's a little annoying, but it works because Nirvana can make a lot of things that shouldn't work happen without any effort.  But since I'm measuring them against bands that seem to be trying harder, songs like this get exposed a bit.

Okay, here's where things get dark and meta.  "Immortality", no matter how often Eddie Vedder denies or hints at it, is at least partially about Kurt Cobain's suicide.  It was written mere days after the fact and performed live not too long after.  It's also about the perils of fame (which were damaging Pearl Jam nearly to the breaking point by 1994), but still.

I've always liked this song, even without paying attention to the undertones (maybe especially because I try to ignore them).  The contrasts of harsh and soft are not the simple stereotype in spite of conforming to the quiet verse/loud chorus format for one simple reason: they commit to both modes.  They're actually being contemplative during the verse, you feel the reflection on heavy topics, but the crash of the chorus doesn't sound intrusive either.  It's an earned transition (and not even a full one at that, as an acoustic guitar is present every step of the way).  This is how you do a song like this, nu-metal.  Fuck off.

I remember the first time I heard "Jesus Christ Pose".  My mom was driving us home after I picked this up, and the weird riff after the introductory feedback starts in and on about the eighth repetition, she just goes "Nope!" and skips ahead to track five.  This is a weird song.  It's technical as shit, with a bunch of tom-centric drumming, lots of lead work that fades into and out of the foreground, the bass is going nuts, lots of guitar shrieks that make you want to turn it down in spite of yourself but the mid-section gets really groove-thrash and tightens up to some pretty gut-punch-y material.  Then the weird riff comes in again at the end, accompanied by assaulting amounts of feedback, and oh yeah, Chris Cornell is going APESHIT during pretty much the whole song.  This is probably the most technical, tight song in the entire Grunge Match.  And for that:

"Jesus Christ Pose": 4
"Immortality": 3
"Don't Follow": 2
"Beeswax": 1

TOTALS:

Pearl Jam: 111
Alice In Chains: 97
Nirvana: 83
Soundgarden: 71

Tomorrow, we say goodbye to both "Vitalogy" and "Jar Of Flies".  Interesting how that works out.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Update Wrap-Up

Well, The Big Four Song Challenge Series Update has drawn to a close, and here we are in the aftermath.  Metallica edged out Megadeth on the strength of bonus material, Anthrax did okay and Slayer should have broken up when Jeff Hanneman died.  For real, all coming back with another album did for them was...well, make them money and allow them to keep touring and making more money, so there's that.  But more importantly, by releasing "Repentless", they dropped from two to three on my completely arbitrary opinion based blog series status ranking system!  Surely, that can't have been worth a couple million bucks?

Anyhow, I'm getting the feeling that rock music in general is going to need to evolve into something completely different or call it quits altogether.  Rock has had its 60 year run just like jazz did before it, and if it doesn't come up with something soon, it will fade away from the public consciousness, only to return in Gap commercials in the 2040…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 172

Anthrax "Impaled" (2016) VS Megadeth "Dystopia" (2016) VS Metallica "Atlas, Rise!" (2016) VS Slayer "Jihad" (Live from Sofia, Bulgaria) (2010)

Unfortunately, Anthrax drew the short straw here, as "Impaled" is a middling intro that, on top of being a bit of a non-song, goes on a hair too long for its own good.

"Dystopia" is a solid, upbeat fist-pumper that was a no-brainer to make the first single off the album of the same name.  It may seem a little milquetoast for the first half, but once the "single" part falls away, it reveals a banger in the back half that makes you remember why you like this stuff in the first place.  It'll take more than one listen to realize how cool this song is, but on play two or three you'll be nodding your head with a pleased scowl on your face.

My first impression of "Atlas, Rise!" was "This is the most average Metallica song ever."  Like if you took all the Met…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 178

Anthrax "Suzerain" (2016) VS Megadeth "Conquer Or Die!" (2016) VS Metallica "ManUNkind" (2016) VS Slayer "Cast The First Stone" (2015)

"Suzerain" is your pentennial reminder that Charlie Bennante don't fuck around.  Definitely the most fiery song on "For All Kings", and probably the closest to the old Anthrax as we're going to get ever again.  Bang your head in reflection.

"Conquer Or Die!" is more old school, though whether that works for or against it is up to you.  It's the three minute instrumental interlude.  This one is...fine.  Honestly, it's better than fine when compared to the song I have to review next, so I shan't complain too loudly.  But it is a song you wouldn't exactly miss if it fell off the face of the planet either.

"ManUNkind" was the point where I stopped giving "Hardwired...To Self-Destruct" the benefit of the doubt and started dreading the fact that I h…