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The Rise and Fall of Grunge

a band in a kitchen

a band in a kitchen (Photo credit: soundfromwayout)

I bumped into grunge like many European (and North American) kids in the early 90s. Music Television. At that time, grunge wasn’t really what I wanted my music to be like. It was not loud or heavy enough, I suppose. I got into Dream Theater, Pantera, Death, and Paradise Lost. You know, heavier kind of stuff.

In 1990 the question was “GNR or Metallica?” and a couple of years later it was “Nirvana or Metallica?” For me, the answer was always easy.

For years, I thought grunge was something evil that killed thrash metal. But in the end, what it killed was glam metal that was very much the opposite what grunge was all about. Thrash metal was actually closer to grunge – the attitude was the same, and they shared the punk influence, too.

Kurt Cobain (front) and Krist Novoselic (left)...

Kurt Cobain (front) and Krist Novoselic (left) live at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But grunge didn’t kill thrash metal. Thrash metal did it all by itself in the early 90s. It was the last part of the natural cycle and it happens with practically every genre. On the other hand, thrash did not die as such – new thrash bands popped up with a bit different sounds. Sepultura, Machine Head and of course: Pantera. The Next Generation of Thrash Metal, TNGoTM, also categorized as groove metal.

It took years for me to get into grunge. But now I can say I like many grunge bands. Or many grunge songs, anyway. Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Melvins to mention a few. Even Nirvana.

In the end, grunge was just a small regional scene that got big. Just like thrash metal in the Bay area in the 80s, or death metal in Florida in the 90s, or melodic death metal in Gothenburg in the 90s as well.

Invented logo of Grunge.

Invented logo of Grunge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trends always come and go. Just like punk killed prog rock in the late 70s, grunge killed glam metal in the early 90s. There are times when you have to shake the tree of rock’n’roll and show them what rock is all about. It’s not about big hairstyles, playing 200 notes a second or doing over-the-top live shows. It’s about playing loud, making people love your music and.. Well, rock.

We all have our definitions of rock music and still, good rock music is damn hard to define. Grunge wasn’t my cup of tea in my teenage years but I still value it. I hope you do it, too.

 

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Posted by on 19.11.2012 in In English, Music

 

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Some Kind of Monster vs. Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Anvil with director Sacha Gervasi and executiv...

Anvil with director Sacha Gervasi and executive producer Rebecca Yeldham, winners at the at Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles, March 5th, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Welcome to the backstage of heavy metal. It’s made of hard work, extremely good luck, 1% of talent and 0.001% of glamour.

Metallica and Anvil. Some Kind of Monster and Anvil! The Story of Anvil. Two documentaries of two different heavy metal / thrash metal bands. One band made it to the stars in the late 80s and the early 90s, the other band did not.

Lately, I basically had to watch both documentaries, for strange reasons. No, Eternal Tears of Sorrow is not hiring a therapist for 40 000 dollars a month. (But yes, we’ve played at a festival in Romania…) 😀

There are some interesting difference between those bands and documentaries. The members of Anvil still believe in their band – and always have. Meanwhile, Metallica had to hire a therapist to solve their problems, of which some must have been the lack of confidence in the band and in their music. Maybe Anvil have had those problems, too, but there is a main difference between these bands. Anvil is still trying to “make it”, so to say, Metallica has seen it all, done it all, got it all. If you’ve reached your dreams and goals, everything you’ve ever imagined, is there anything you can do anymore?

Cover of "Metallica - Some Kind of Monste...

Cover of Metallica - Some Kind of Monster

Another big theme in both documentaries is aging. Both band consist of middle-aged men who have been playing in heavy metal bands for decades. They aren’t angry 20-year-old boys anymore. Hetfield and Ulrich (of Metallica) are fathers and will turn 50 next year (!). Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner (of Anvil) are 56. Is it different to rock at 20 than at 50? What makes you rocking and touring for decades? Is it ridiculous to have a rock’n’roll dream when you’re middle-aged? Does it make you another Spinal Tap?

Even for younger bands, it’s hard to keep up the attitude of an 20-year-old.

You can hear that genuine enthusiasm and innocence on Angels Fall First and Oceanborn, ” Tuomas [Holopainen of Nightwish] sighs [talking about their two first albums]. “The touching naïveté that was lost somewhere along the way. After the success of Oceanborn, that innocence was lost forever.” (Once Upon a Nightwish by Mape Ollila)

Or what about Dream Theater? They had been around for 25 years until a co-founder of the band, Mike Portnoy, decided he didn’t have the spark anymore and asked the band to have a five-year break? The outcome: MP was fired and DT goes on as usual.

So many questions unanswered. But I suppose the ultimate question presented in both documentaries is: What makes an individual love music and his/her band so much he wants to go with it (seemingly) forever? The answer must be: music itself. Otherwise, you are in the wrong track. Despite everything that could happen to a musician or his/her band, music must be the only thing that counts.

(Yeah, and being true to yourself and all that stuff…)

So, are Anvil, Metallica and Spinal Tap (if they were a real band) and their attitude ridiculous or honourable and respectable? Or are the people who are laughing at them deep down just envying them? You know, they’re doing what they want and don’t want to be the “mundane rat race” but have dreams. Even at their age.

 
 

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