Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Review: Nirvana – In Utero: 20th Anniversary Edition (Album)

It has been 20 years since Nirvana released In Utero. Not around at the time then check out the review of the re-issue.

In Utero1Band: Nirvana
Release: In Utero: 20th Anniversary Edition.
Release Date: Out Now.

Nirvana were never quite comfortable riding the waves of popularity that Nevermind brought them. Thrust into the limelight Kurt Cobain and co seemed to seek a way to sabotage the ship they were sailing to more mainstream success and take a chance with the sharks swarming in the depths below in the music industry.

Their reaction of being the ‘grunge scene’ poster boys was to create an album that went against the grain and alienated them once more to a level that they could be more content with. This turned out to be the bands third and final album, In Utero. Seven months after its original release Kurt Cobain committed suicide.

It is easy to read between the lines and assume that In Utero is the album that explained why Kurt Cobain took his own life, but delve a little deeper and In Utero becomes one man’s addiction to a powerful drug, love, add Cobain’s inner torment and disillusion with the music industry dealings.

In Utero is not as commercially accessible as its predecessor but that is not to say that it is an album devoid of hits or songs that are contagious.

Opening with what are now infamous lyrics, “Teenage angst has paid off well, now I’m bored and old,” show just how troubled the singer was on, as Serve The Servants drudges by giving way to one of the heaviest tracks on the album, Scentless Apprentice. With a guitar sound that punishes your ear drums and Cobain’s feral screams of, “go away, get away,” at risk of blowing out your vocal chords and at risk of your neighbors thinking you’re having a domestic with the spouse. Like so many tracks on this album the verse on Scentless Apprentice lulls you into a false sense of security that there will be a grand chorus on the horizon, only for it never to appear.

The chaos dies down for a brief moment during Heart-Shaped Box. As Cobain reveals how dangerous being in love can be as he sings, “I’ve been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap, I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black,” who said romance was dead?

Ripping off the riff from mega hit Smells Like Teen Spirit, it is unsurprising that Rape Me is one of the catchiest songs on In Utero. Bearing in mind that the lyrics refer to the music corporations no matter how accessible the track is to listeners it was never going to make the cut on MTV with Cobain bellowing, “rape me” over and over again.
An unexpected cello plays an integral part throughout Dumb, before Milk It unleashes its raw, visceral assault, with sporadic blasts of guitar, exposing the dark state of mind Cobain was in as he roars, “look on the bright side is suicide.”

Pennyroyal Tea is a welcome change to the sprawling mess of songs, with a paint by numbers song structure which has Cobain begging for a “Leonard Cohen afterworld,” whilst the ironic Radio Friendly Unit Shifter is anything but, drenched in feedback and leaving you on a tenterhook for a chorus that never materialises.

These chaotic songs produced by Steve Albini explain why In Utero sounds so natural and unrefined. Unhappy with the outcome At the time the label and Cobain drafted in Scott Litt to redo All Apologies and Heart-Shaped Box. It may have added sheen to the songs but Albini’s versions (which have been added) are an altogether different beast, especially All Apologies which is intense to the extreme.

Along with the live recordings and mixes, there are two rare tracks, Marigold and Moist Vagina. The former released as a B-side in 1990 gives Dave Grohl a chance to flex his vocals, albeit in a gentle manner, whilst the latter contains an eerie noise reminiscent of the demon in the horror film The Grudge.

Not wanting to conform to the norm and become puppets to ‘the man’ In Utero is a frenetic frenzy of a monster. Drowning in passion so raw it is frightening fans of the band will love the re-issue. For those unfortunate souls who were not around at the time and wondered what the fuss was about, you have your answer.


Reviewer: Antoine Omisore

You May Also Like


With the Man on the Moon trilogy finally complete, we felt that Kid Cudi's To the Moon World Tour deserved an in-depth review.