This feature initially ran in September 2013 as part of In Utero’s 20th anniversary. We’re reposting in remembrance of Kurt Cobain, who would’ve turned 50 today.
How do you follow an album that’s not only a commercial breakthrough, but also defines a generation? If you’re Nirvana, you do so with your middle fingers proudly in the air. In Utero was (and still is) a massive fuck you to the corporate system, the fans that never really “got it” in the first place, and those bandwagon acts that trolled their sound three albums over. Twenty years later, it stands as the definitive Nirvana album and a portrait of a trio whose pop tendencies were secondary to their noisy nature. To celebrate their timeless ruckus, we’ve collected the loudest tracks in their repertoire and turned the fuzz up all the way to 11. In other words, the higher the number, the louder things get.
01. “You Know You’re Right”
The posthumous release of “You Know You’re Right” from the band’s last studio session was contentious with Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Courtney Love, but the fans were frothing at the mouth to hear it. Everyone knows the story behind it as one of the last songs Cobain recorded, but its beauty, even though it wasn’t totally finished, dwells in its vitriol. Cobain’s mastery of brain-numbing feedback is in full effect, and his vocals are as angry as anything previously released. The doubled screams hint at a future in post-hardcore that never was.
How Loud? It’ll rattle a casket six feet down in the cold earth.
02. “Endless Nameless”
Imagine you’ve just picked up a copy of Nevermind to see what all the fuss is about. Somber closer “Something in the Way” has sent you into an extended bout of meditative depression, so it takes a while to get up and restart the album. After 10 minutes of silence, you’re ready, but then comes a decidedly unpleasant surprise: seven minutes of frustrated discordance and screeches of hopelessness. If you weren’t already hooked by Nirvana’s fascination with abusing volume, hidden track “Endless Nameless” certainly sealed the deal.
How Loud? The holocaust section of My Bloody Valentine’s “You Made Me Realize”