Nirvana’s third and final studio album, In Utero, is now a quarter-century old, having been released on September 21st, 1993. The band had the daunting task of following up the album that changed the face of rock music — 1991’s Nevermind — but instead of building on that mega-selling disc’s commercial appeal, Kurt Cobain and company chose to get rawer and heavier on In Utero.
[Read Also: In Utero at 25, Nirvana’s Insubordinate Masterpiece]
In Utero would go on to sell 15 million copies worldwide, so it didn’t exactly push away the masses, but in its lyrics, its music, its imagery, and in the weight Nirvana carried going into recording the effort, there is a heightened sense of heaviness that permeates throughout the album. Here, we look at the 10 Heaviest Moments on Nirvana’s In Utero.
Managing Editor, Heavy Consequence
10. Kurt Cobain’s Scream a Minute into “Scentless Apprentice”
Fans who popped in the In Utero CD for the first time would be greeted with the relatively radio-friendly “Serve the Servants” as the lead track, thinking the album just might have a commercial sheen to it, but a minute into the second track, “Scentless Apprentice”, Cobain made it clear that the band wasn’t pandering to any record label demands on their third album, delivering the song’s “go away” scream like man possessed. –Spencer Kaufman
09. The Second Verse from “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle”
“Our favorite patient/ A display of patience, disease-covered Puget Sound/ She’ll come back as fire, to burn all the liars/ And leave a blanket of ash on the ground”
Cobain could be singing about Frances Farmer, a Seattle-born actress who found fame working for Paramount Pictures in the ’30s before public and media scrutiny of her erratic behavior (later diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia) left her to wither away in mental institutions. He could also be singing about a demonic creature off a metal album cover hellbent on fiery revenge and burning everything to the ground. To be honest, at this point in his career, Cobain probably would’ve felt like a kindred spirit with either one. –Matt Melis
08. The old man on a cross in the “Heart-Shaped Box” music video
Oh, here’s a nice colorful music video for the album’s first single … wait, what the heck? Is that a half-naked old-man in a Santa hat being crucified while crows peck at the cross? The “Heart-Shaped Box” video was the first visual fans got of the new album, and while the song itself is not among In Utero’s heaviest, the imagery in the video was heavy as hell. –Spencer Kaufman
07. Dave Grohl’s Drumming on Tourette’s
The song may be a 95-second joke or fuck you (depending on how you choose to color it) directed at the types of unit-shifting suits who dubbed Nirvana “moderate rock,” but it’s also some of the purest, and heaviest, joy on In Utero. As Cobain blurts out random bits of verbal rubbish, Grohl pounds away like his only diagnosed tic is to kick a hole in his kit and destroy the rest with his bare hands. His doing so feels less like a mission and much more like an uncontrollable urge. –Matt Melis
06. The chorus of “Pennyroyal Tea”
Cobain sweeps the listener into the comfort of the haunting verses of “Pennyroyal Tea” before launching into the pure heaviness of the chorus, delivering the quiet-loud-quiet dynamics that powered many a Nirvana hit. His raspy vocals are provided a mighty backbone by Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic. –Spencer Kaufman