Metal Evolution: Season 1, Episode 7

Grunge (30 Dec. 2011)

TV Episode  -  Documentary
7.8
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While grunge was enjoying its meteoric rise, replacing the MTV face of Metal that was glam with its own brand of telegenic, easy to digest "rebellion," diehards within the Metal community struggled to adjust.

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Title: Grunge (30 Dec 2011)

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Steve Albini ...
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Mark Arm ...
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Melissa Auf der Maur ...
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Michael Azerrad ...
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Ron Burman ...
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Dale Crover ...
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Kurt Danielson ...
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Terry Date ...
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Jack Endino ...
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Jeff Gilbert ...
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Sean Kinney ...
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While grunge was enjoying its meteoric rise, replacing the MTV face of Metal that was glam with its own brand of telegenic, easy to digest "rebellion," diehards within the Metal community struggled to adjust.

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30 December 2011 (USA)  »

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Touch Me I'm Sick
Written by Mark Arm, Steve Turner, Dan Peters and 'Matt Lukin.'
Performed by Mudhoney
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The childish need to be associated with punk.
3 March 2012 | by (Serbia) – See all my reviews

Only a few minutes into the program and the predictable snootiness of the grunge movement reveals itself. (We're punk but we're also snobs. How exactly does that even work?) Soundgarden's Thayill, his nose high up in the air and annoyed by Dunn's metal-related questions, interrupts him, vehemently rejecting the suggestion that the emergence of grunge had anything to do with metal. Slyly (or stupidly?) he tries to narrow down the entire early 90s metal scene to "spandex music for future housewives of America" – i.e. just glam simply so he can wash himself from any metal influences.

Several people Dunn interviewed tried to define metal purely by what those L.A. pop-metal retards did and played. However, the hair-salon transvestites that grungers refer to as "metal" were always on the outskirts of metal; they essentially played "heavy pop". Besides, by 1990 glam rock was as good as gone; thrash reigned. The reason Thayill didn't want to even hint at thrash was precisely because by comparing grunge and thrash he would have been forced to admit to the obvious parallels between the two, both in terms of attitude and stage appearance - i.e. neither dressed up like women and they took their music seriously.

Soundgarden – of all bands – should not even entertain the thought of denying their metal influences. "Even though I was well-acquainted (i.e. a huge fan, but Thayill prefers "well-acquainted") with Sabbath and Zeppelin, I wasn't really orientated towards those bands". Well, YOU maybe weren't, but Cornell surely was; after all, Chris was Soundgarden's key song-writer, not to mention the frontman/guitarist, so who even gives a crap what Thayill thinks. Dunn obviously couldn't get Cornell for the interview, who was probably too busy working on his next lame solo album.

"Grunge didn't have a wall of Marshall amplifiers like metal bands". No? Perhaps they played their music through their rear ends, dunno. One journalist i.e. "music expert" suggests the very far-fetched theory that grunge started in 1984 when Black Flag played a gig in Seattle. So one hour of Henry Rollins posing around with his tattoos made that much of an impact on a whole city? I'd understand if Black Flag visited some remote Alaskan town, being the first rock band there in a decade, after which a generation of Eskimos would be grabbing up guitars the next day in the local music store. But Seattle? Give me a break.

Sorry to disappoint all the pretentious-yet-dimwitted ex-grungers who want to believe that their music evolved out of thin air – or punk. Many like Thayill claimed punk as the main influence (Soundgarden and punk? Stop the nonsense already), but punk is just a small part (or very small, depending on the band) of the grunge sound. Besides, it's always been fashionable to latch on to punk because of its phony-baloney "street credibility" which left-wing "rebels-without-a-cause" in particular are so obsessed with. All those rock millionaires (yes, you too, Kim) desperately want to appear as "ghetto kids", even the limousine-transported middle-aged ones, and one way to do that is by claiming punk as your bread-and-butter. Soundgarden's ex-bassist Yamamoto tries to seriously have us believe that they were playing "punk rock" in 1990, trying to pin the "blame" on producer Terry Date for giving them a metal sound. Laughable.

Fortunately, the jig is up quite soon, when two down-to-Earth, genuine guys – pioneers of the grunge-guitar sound - Dale and Buzz from The Melvins confirm our suspicions that nearly all grunge musicians grew up primarily on metal - Van Halen even.

Despite all the ensuing hype, Seattle gave us three excellent multi-platinum-selling grunge bands - AIC, Nirvana and Soundgarden – and one pop/rock band riding on their coat-tails, Pearl Jam. When it comes to grunge's "metal embarrassment" i.e. their denial of having ever been fans of metal as youths, PJ are the only band that can claim this and get away with it, simply because their sound had absolutely zero to do with metal. As I said, they weren't even grunge; they were merely "don't-want-the-fame" phonies dressed up as lumberjacks and doped-up high-school dropouts. Their music is mediocre all across the board.

Which brings us to the somewhat false claim that grunge musicians were all individualists without a stage uniform. Obviously not true. Another myth about grunge is that it was an "intelligent movement". Have you seen interviews with Kurt and the other two morons from Nirvana? Two members of AIC died from drugs (not something smart people are usually associated with). Chris Cornell isn't the brightest guy in the world, either. The less said about Vedder's roasted turkey of a brain, the better. Pearl Jam and Nirvana, in particular, played their "tortured geniuses" disinterested-in-money gimmick well, though. So yes, many of them were great actors.

Deena Weinstein, Dunn's favourite clueless Marxist college-professor metal-"expert", once again shows up to say something dumb: "Cobain had this pain in his voice that metal doesn't have". And this remark actually made it into the program. Dunn, stick your head in the sand and don't come out until I say so.

The program ends on a humorous note (no, not Kurt blasting his tiny brain with a shotgun) when the awful post-grunge movement is analyzed and torn apart through amusing comments such as the mention of the much-copied Vedder/Staley under-bite "yarling"-style of singing which some of the worst bands in the history of rock misused ad nauseum: the likes of Creed, Bush, Silverchair and Staind.

For anyone uninitiated, wondering what to download, I'd suggest AIC's first two albums, Soundgarden's albums 2-4, Nirvana's 2 & 3, and the totally ignored "Diva" album by My Sister's Machine.

And I'd like to deflate and destroy the myth that grunge bands were excellent live bands. I'd seen Nirvana in 1991 and Soundgarden in 1992, and they were both fairly dull, almost disinterested. It's only when Nirvana made major MTV-televised appearances that they actually made an effort.


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