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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

In Utero

Nirvana

1993

In Utero

Album Summary

In Utero is the third and final studio album by American rock band Nirvana, released on September 13, 1993, by DGC Records. After breaking into the mainstream with their second album, Nevermind (1991), Nirvana hired Steve Albini to record In Utero, seeking a more complex, abrasive sound. Recording took place over two weeks in February 1993 at Pachyderm Studio in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. Soon after recording was completed, rumors circulated that DGC might not release In Utero due to Albini's abrasive sound. Producer Scott Litt was hired to remix the singles "All Apologies", "Heart-Shaped Box" and "Pennyroyal Tea", upsetting Albini. In Utero was a major commercial and critical success. Critics praised the change in sound and Cobain's lyrics. It reached number one on the US Billboard 200 and UK Albums Chart; "Heart-Shaped Box" and "All Apologies" reached number one on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. The album is certified five-times platinum and has sold 15 million copies. In Utero was the final Nirvana album before Cobain's suicide in 1994. "Pennyroyal Tea", planned as a single prior to Cobain's death, was released in 2014 and reached number one on the Billboard Hot Singles Sales Chart.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.83

Votes

6140

Genres

  • Rock
  • Grunge
Reviews
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Wed Mar 03 2021
1

Meh. The 1 star belongs entirely to All Apologies.

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Tue Jul 06 2021
5

For so long I was trying to determine whether to rate this 4 or 5. But then I realized I was trying to determine how whether it could match or surpass Nevermind. Nevermind is a masterpiece but is polished and poppy from start to finish. But this album is raw and punkish. Sure, the more popular songs have the sound and genius songwriting we're used to, as in "Heart-Shaped Box" and "All Apologies", but the majority is more personal to Cobain. Overall, the songs flow together as a whole better than Nevermind, but the comparisons stop there. There is a dramatic contrast between pop and punk, and you can never tell what the next song will sound like, it's that unpredictable. Take "Dumb" for instance. It sounds like it should be one of those poppy songs, and like "Heart-Shaped Box" or "Rape Me", you'd expect grungy soft sound followed by a loud and guitar-heavy chorus... but it never comes. And of course, this works perfectly with the subject matter and makes for a memorable experience. But even with these pop songs, there is a rawness found in the recording you would never find on Nevermind. This is all an attempt to sound more like the indie albums Cobain admired, like Pixies's "Doolittle." Most songs get real personal to Cobain, dealing with his partner, his daughter, his drug use, and the media. Beyond a few bands, I always found the grunge genre to be dull and uninspired, but Cobain is one of those few who can remind us what the genre is about. Not just being a social rebel, but finding a medium to express the grimy elements of our lives, both the happy and sad parts of it. I admire Cobain's determination to take total control of this album and produce something they truly want, instead of what the public expects. It doesn't end up as garbage. Instead we have an album that, despite all, holds itself up as one of the greatest albums of the decade.

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Tue May 18 2021
5

This is the best of it's genre and an extremely important album to boot. It's style, sound, and substance was huge, managing to enjoy mainstream success while also resonating with music nerds of the day (and today). To top it all off, it managed to do this while being the follow-up to the darling Nevermind, and it still rocks. Oh, and it has Albini production. Nirvana forever.

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Sun Jul 04 2021
5

Lots of rock stars scream about how difficult it is, how they can’t be their true selves, how the system eats them up but very few deliver something this gutteral and beautiful. Make no mistake this is a real album about rock star angst. About feeling like you’ve sold your soul and trying to stay true to your craft. Just read the first line of the album “Teenage Angst has paid off well” It’s a thing of wonder that I didn’t fully appreciate until I was a bit older. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Fri May 14 2021
5

A fine outing by these three fine lads. Can't wait to see what they do next!

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Tue Jun 22 2021
5

One of the greatest albums of the '90s and possibly ever. Nirvana expanded their dynamics on this album which gives it more texture and shows that the band was not simply content to rehash Nevermind. This album hints at their Beatles and Pixies influence while incorporating elements of punk and hardcore music. Kurt Cobain was a master songwriter and an avid student of music.

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Fri Feb 19 2021
5

There's so much of Steve Albini here. Great great production.

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Mon Aug 09 2021
5

Sharp, tight guitar, definitely hear Albini's hand at the controls

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Sat Sep 18 2021
5

One of the best albums of grunge, alternative rock and 90's music at all. Raw sound and pure energy! Listened dozens of time.

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Wed Sep 22 2021
5

This was an amazing album, among the best of its era. Sadly, it's also one of the band's best and an indicator of where Nirvana might have been headed musically had things turned out differently. The songs are stunningly crafted and pretty perfect, but deliberately less polished than on Nevermind. Musically, the band is unforgiving in their delivery. It grinds, it burns and blisters, but also sometimes with an ear towards the melodic. Cobain's delivery flows effortlessly from insouciance to raging in a way I can't even compare to another artist. Lyrically, Cobain is brutal, clever, sarcastic, clearly in pain. I would just like to add that this is the second album I have reviewed in the past week by an extremely talented person who took his own life after the album I was reviewing came out, and it's a bummer, to put it mildly. The world was a better place with Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith in it. If you're struggling, there are people who can help you. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255. Fave Songs: All Apologies, Heart Shaped Box, Dumb, Radio Friendly Unit Shifter, Milk It

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Wed Oct 27 2021
5

Someone should've told him he was brilliant. Best Tracks: Serve The Servants; Heart-Shaped Box; Radio Friendly Unit Shifter

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Wed May 25 2022
5

Not often on this list does an album incontrovertibly deserve to be on it regardless of personal feelings about the band, the music, etc. Rarer still, does the album earn all five stars in spite of that as well. At this time, there are two studio and one live album by Nirvana on 1001. This being their final studio album, it did ride on the success of "Nevermind" but demonstrated more importantly that Nirvana was not single happenstance, but rather a hot iron that had everyone scrambling to strike. While the success of "In Utero" was comparatively somewhat dwarfed by "Nevermind" any band with any dreams of success would be hard-pressed to achieve what "In Utero" did as it would likely be their best performing album of their career if they did. This album captures all of the heavy, the hard, the angst, and grunge elements of an era, an era not necessarily started by Nirvana, however nearly 30 years later, comparisons and root traces still find Nirvana as their common ancestor. Bands who have "Seattle-based" as part of their promotional material is undoubtedly drawing from the mythos of Nirvana. Subsequent or "new" music can all go back to what Nirvana did to rock music in the early 90s, when music collectively abandoned overnight the glam rock and heavily synth'd pop of the 80s. People found that Cobain's introspection asked people to look inward, ultimately for him which led to a tragic end. Casting a shadow on an entire city that became socially ubiquitous with a perception of depression, and mental fatigue. The album deserves 5-stars because it proved "Nevermind" was not a fluke, that Nirvana had indeed codified into the world of music how things were going to be.

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Mon Jan 18 2021
4

This album is better when played as a whole rather than as several disconnected singles. It is clear that this record was meant to evoke a visceral response in the listener. From the opener, Serve the Servants to the closer All Apologies this record is meant for movement but is at it's heart disturbing emotionally.

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Sun Oct 17 2021
4

4.2 + I appreciate the warts on this album now that I'm older. When I was 14, I was disappointed that this didn't sound like "Nevermind 2.0." Steve Albini captures a more live, organic feel, and there's more dynamism in the guitars. Compared to "Nevermind", there are higher highs ("All Apologies", "Heart-Shaped Box"). But there are also lower lows, which almost tank the second half ("Tourette's", "Radio-Friendly Unit Shifter"). Some of the same themes around anatomy and disease are here with some darker kinks ("eat your cancer", basically all of "Milk It", "umbilical noose"...). It's a messier, nastier, less poppy and more interesting record than "Nevermind." My only knock is with those two aforementioned tracks - they kind of stink.

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Wed Sep 21 2022
4

It is often seen where bands go from punk to a more "radio friendly" genre, becoming polished over time and losing that "edge", but Nirvana did the exact opposite here, releasing their critically acclaimed Nevermind first and later following it up with the more edgy, unpolished In Utero. There are some songs on this album that have that similar Nevermind polish, but this is ultimately a more primal album. And as I understand it, this is exactly what Nirvana was going for. Still, the magic of Nirvana is there for those that are drawn to it in the first place. You have grating, visceral emotions from Cobain's vocals and lyrics. His words fit the grunge genre so well, as he is adept at telling his very personal stories with dirty, grimy, grungy lyrics befitting of the genre. The music, while also incredibly grungy and distorted, is masterfully edgy; you can tell you're listening to musicians who know how to do more than slam on their instruments. While I understand that Nirvana wanted to go more unpolished, I personally believe they were at their best on Nevermind. Still, this album is solid, and a very shining example of 90s grunge and punk-adjacent genres. Cobain was known for pushing hard for what he wanted, and Nirvana shows here what they wanted to be, and they were uncompromising on that. And it proved to be a success. This likely would have been the beginning of their sound moving forward, had it not been for Cobain's untimely death.

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Wed Sep 29 2021
3

I hadn't ever listened to this album in its entirety before, and I went in expecting five stars. After a few songs I was like "never mind."

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Tue May 25 2021
2

1.5 nahvana

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Tue Feb 09 2021
2

ugh. Never liked them; never liked grunge or whatever they called it.

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Fri Dec 03 2021
2

Nirvana never does it for me.

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Wed Feb 02 2022
2

Get the shotgun

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Mon Mar 07 2022
2

Bores me

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Sat Oct 08 2022
2

never really cared much for Nirvana

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Wed Feb 24 2021
1

Basically if you take Nickelback, then dip them in a vat of crack and meth you get Nirvana. While I think the guitar riffs are really cool, I don't like how they fit with Kurt's voice; as soon as his voice comes in I'm like ah shit stop singing. I love counterculture music and Nirvana do have some better songs on other albums, but just never been able to appreciate this band in particular. Knew a few of these songs but I always prefer non-singles, which weren't decent enough to save this album for me.

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Sun May 09 2021
1

Disappointing. Not heard a Nirvana album before, so was excited. But it was boring & the singer's voice grated with me. Forgettable

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Thu May 27 2021
1

If this album's goal was to annoy me then it did its job well. I don't like this genre and this album solidified that fact for me. If I wanted something to make me go deaf with just straight noise, I'd pick this. Favorite track: All Apologies

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Tue Oct 12 2021
1

Ghastly pub rock drone

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Wed Oct 12 2022
1

I enjoyed some damn good years in the 90s. But what I've come to realize is that how much of that was surrounded in myth because I don't miss the decade of snark, the cynicism, and in music that manifested into the "if it's not indie (which this wasn't...) it's utter shit" credo that wasn't even so much stated as just assumed. And Nirvana was the perfect synthesis of all of that. Which is probably why when they hit I hated them right off the bat. I wasn't stuck in the 80s or any particular era; as a marked counterpoint to that, the early 90s brought a revelation of/in rock music to me - so much amazing new music EVERYWHERE (I would say comfortably that nearly 100% of any excess money i made for a 2-3 year stretch went to buying new CDs) that I couldn't believe *this* was the band that stuck out and somehow got to be the symbol of the GenX rock fans. Goddammit WHY?! I wanted to revisit this today and give it a fresh ear. Because I hated this album. But I still hate it and maybe even more-so. Members of the loud/soft/loud cult of the late80s/early90s which I never enjoyed - there's not much melody to be found anywhere on this album; it's a noise record and - ok I can see how some people would like or even love this - but as much as I love power and energy in music there's no release in Nirvana's music for me. Kurt Cobain's voice is like listening to my cat angrily vomit into a microphone over and over which doesn't cover up the lack of musical progression. Listening to "Scentless Apprentice" are 4 of the worst minutes you'll ever spend. Until "Tourette's" - it's less than 2 minutes but feels like 20. Was going to give small points for occasional - OCCASIONAL - nostalgia. But then that same nostalgia gets some points docked because this is even worse than I remembered. No apologies. 1/10 1 star.

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Tue Oct 06 2020
5

9/10. no idea why this site wants me to listen to so much 90s music but im not complaining. seriously like half of these fucking albums have been 90s. what the hell! anyway this album is great. i wrote a more serious "review" on my rym top 200 list but aside from scentless apprentice this is super good and connects with me kinda hard. probably needs a relisten!

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Mon Mar 08 2021
5

1993. Key Songs: Serve The Servants, Heart-Shaped Box, Dumb, Rape Me

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Fri Nov 20 2020
5

Rough and pleasurable

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Thu Dec 03 2020
5

It’s been over a decade since the last time I listened to this album end-to-end, and I’m surprised at just how well it holds up

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Fri Jan 15 2021
5

Good album

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Mon Feb 22 2021
5

Obviously, I love this album. It has some of my favorite non-hit Nirvana songs on it. Very Ape and Milk It really stand out.

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Mon Jan 25 2021
5

My favorite album tbh.

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Mon May 03 2021
5

One of my favorites, great sound and awesome songs, always

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Wed Mar 03 2021
5

One of the more raw Nirvana albums with a few defining hits. Playlist song Dumb.

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Wed Apr 28 2021
5

Awesome. Just awesome.

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Sat Apr 10 2021
5

Hell yeah

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Fri Jan 15 2021
5

Just classic. I remember when this was released and how raw and urgent it sounded. Still no album like it

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Thu Jul 15 2021
5

My favorite Nirvana album (usually). Not as rough as Bleach, not overly slick like Nevermind. 9/10 1. Heart-Shaped Box 2. Rape Me 3. Pennyroyal Tea

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Sun Jan 31 2021
5

¡Buenísimo!

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Mon Feb 15 2021
5

ABSOLUTE BANGERS ON THIS ALBUM!

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Sat Mar 20 2021
5

Classic

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Fri Apr 09 2021
5

I've never given Nirvana the credit other people do. I think it was just a metal kid's resentment towards grunge? Maybe it was thinking Dave Grohl made better music in Foo Fighters? But this album rules! || It might also be because I have a higher base stressed-out level these days, but the raw tones and attitude in the all of the tracks just seems to resonate and feel comforting. || Never knew it was recorded in Goodhue County, literally one over from where I grew up in Dakota County! doesn't mean much, but neat! ||

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Mon May 24 2021
5

5 star for Diogo, my bro!

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Mon May 24 2021
5

I was surprised how it still sounds good.

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Wed Feb 10 2021
5

Todas las canciones, memorables. Un gran disco

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Wed Mar 03 2021
5

Epic

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Sun Jul 04 2021
5

Masterpiece. A hypnotising, singular and wonderful experience. A one of kind album.

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Tue Jun 22 2021
5

The first time I listened to this I thought I was about to listen to a live album and that Utero was the name of a city. I'm glad it wasn't.

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Thu Apr 22 2021
5

I've never listened to Nirvana before. It's really astounding how it grabbed my attention (I'm listening to this at 2am after working late) because holy shit I really savoured this like I haven't for other music in the past. Goddamn

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Wed May 12 2021
5

Obscure gem

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Thu May 27 2021
5

Definitely the best Nirvana album. The songs are catchy and raw, and the instruments are peak 90's grunge. Kurt's anger and energy throughout the album help solidify it as the best Nirvana album for me. The worst thing about this album is that it's their last (studio album, at least). Highlights: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, and 12.

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Wed Jul 14 2021
5

Nirvana's best studio album

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Thu May 27 2021
5

Yummy needles

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Thu Jun 17 2021
5

A couple radio friendly singles mixed by Scott Litt (REM) + that classic Albini engineered abrasiveness = a timeless classic. No apologies for giving this 5 stars babyyy!

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Thu Jun 17 2021
5

Farmer Francis will have her revenge on Seattle. The first nirvana album i got into, so it will always be my favourite. It’s a pretty flawless album.

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Thu Jun 17 2021
5

Arguably nirvana’s best album. Shows a ton of growth musically and lyrically from Nevermind. The biggest shame is not knowing what would have come next. Highlights: Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle, Milk It, Dumb

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Tue Jul 27 2021
5

One of the best albums of the early 90s. All Apologies, Heart-Shaped Box, Pennyroyal Team, and Dumb are great songs. It just never gets old. Nirvana just takes you back to your youth and the music has aged really well. It was so ahead of its time, but at the same time, very much a product of the 90s.

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Wed Jul 28 2021
5

Always a good narrative. Union of all of the good things coming out at the time. Penny royal tea and Heart-shaped Box favourites

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Thu Aug 05 2021
5

Simply sensational. Even after all these years. Almost every song absolutely kills it and it still feels as raw and as edgy as back then in 94.

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Tue Aug 17 2021
5

A formative album for me. I actually don't listen to Nirvana that much anymore... but still a classic for me.

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Mon Aug 30 2021
5

Que honor haber nacido el mismo año que este disco.

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Mon Aug 30 2021
5

Escuchar este disco me hizo sentir como el meme de “How do you do fellow kids?” Y aunque el grunge nunca fue mi vibra, sí disfruté mucho esta escucha

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Wed Sep 15 2021
5

9.7 Impossibke to separate from tennage years.

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Wed Sep 22 2021
5

Beautiful early-to-mid 90s memories with this one. Teenage years soundtrack. I would often swing back and forth between more extreme metal and grunge/alt-rock. I preferred this one to Nevermind as it sounds somewhat rawer, but I'd give 5-stars to both of them (and if you ask me, my actual favorite is Incesticide...).

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Sun Sep 26 2021
5

Not the same impact as Nevermind and I remember a slight disappointment at the time, but still a classic.

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Mon Oct 04 2021
5

After being quite disappointed with this album after it came out, it has really grown on me quite a bit. This album is fantastic.

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Tue Oct 12 2021
5

Great Album.

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Sat Oct 16 2021
5

My favorite Nirvana album. In my estimation the best Nirvana album. It’s incredibly powerful.

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Wed Oct 27 2021
5

Rating: 9/10 Best songs: Serve the servants, Heart-shaped box, Rape me, Dumb, Very ape, Tourette’s

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Tue Nov 02 2021
5

Shot

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Thu Nov 11 2021
5

An absolute classic. Heard it a million times, happy to platter it up a million more

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Fri Nov 12 2021
5

One of my favourite albums of all time

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Sat Nov 13 2021
5

I was 13 when this came out and it was a big part of my life. I even have specific memories of times and places I listened to this album. I think about it every time I pass through Cannon Falls on 52.

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Sat Nov 13 2021
5

It’s amazing how influential nirvana became after essentially only 2 albums but it’s understandable. Both this and nevermind are all time greats for good reason, not much more to be said. Nevermind is still better in my opinion. Fav songs: heart-shaped box, rape me, all apologies

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Sun Nov 14 2021
5

A grunge manifesto in disgust for corporate and popular society at large. Cobain's seething delivery and simple yet evocative guitar lines underwrite not only an indictment of Nirvana's success post-Nevermind and Kurt's feelings of exploitation ('Rape Me', 'Radio Friendly Unit Shifter'), but a continually relevant vision of the sheer vapidity of modern society ('Very Ape', 'Dumb'). Shifting between pure discord and true beauty ('All Apologies' is and always will be a stunner of a track), this LP is not so much rage but cynicism sonified, one final wail against the cesspool of American society before finally giving in.

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Tue Nov 16 2021
5

3/3 студийных альбомов Нирваны.

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Tue Nov 16 2021
5

Might be my favorite album of all time.

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Tue Nov 16 2021
5

You gotta be kidding me, two of my favs in a row! Here's a meme for you: Слушает In Utero Мальчик: Rape Me, Heart-Shaped Box Мужчина: Milk It, Radio Friendly Unit Shifter, Very Ape

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Thu Nov 18 2021
5

Heard it! Love it!

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Tue Nov 23 2021
5

241121 17:13 4.5

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Sat Nov 27 2021
5

Grunge will always have a special place in my heart, it was really the entryway for metal for me, and Nirvana played a big role in that. This is Nirvana at their best. 4/5 Album.

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Sat Nov 27 2021
5

Now we're talking! The best Nirvana album, sorry, Nevermind, which showcases a lot of the band's best tracks as well as having huge significance to me personally. Whilst the highs of Nevermind might have a slight edge on those of this record, In Utero has a stronger complete track list and is a stellar example of 90's grunge from the band that brought the genre out of it's niche and exposed it to the masses.

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Sat Nov 27 2021
5

Everyone has a collection of music that has helped them through some hard times and helped shape them. Nirvana features heavily in my collection. Tourette's is maybe the only song on the album that I wouldn't consider a banger as it feels almost too volatile, explosive and I think there's too much going on. I would however argue that it achieved exactly what it set out to achieve so I can hardly fault it. I may have only been 1 when this album was released but In Utero is timeless. 5/5.

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Sat Dec 04 2021
5

HEY

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Mon Dec 13 2021
5

In 1993, it was a different world. We didn't have cell phones or the internet (well, most of us). We didn't have Google, and we didn't have Genius for looking up song lyrics and meanings. We had the liner notes, pulled out of the jewel case and poured over for hours, trying to make some sense of the mystery. I can't decide if we were better off trying to decipher Kurt Cobain's obtuse lyrics, or better off now having so much information at our fingertips. Every magazine story about Nirvana, each video interview with Cobain, even Courtney Love's tweets to Lana Del Rey in 2012 about her vagina's role in Cobain's songwriting. And here we are judging this content 30 years later, 30 years filled with more life experiences and cultural changes that Cobain never experienced. How would he reflect on this music decades later? How would Nirvana's music have evolved? We'll never know, but we do have this amazing time capsule of an amazing band at their creative peak, raw and angry and vulnerable and passionate, screaming until their voices and instruments broke. It's pretty awesome.

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Wed Dec 15 2021
5

Very good

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Thu Dec 23 2021
5

Cobain is one of the few lead singers that I know, that can't hit notes, but is still an amazing lead. Incredible album.

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Thu Dec 23 2021
5

Fucking eh, what a great album.

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Mon Jan 03 2022
5

A masterpiece, maybe less raucous and brash than its predecessor Nevermind, but nonetheless heartfelt and passionate

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Fri Jan 07 2022
5

Excellent album

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Sat Jan 08 2022
5

Just as good as my teenage angst remembers! It gets the nostalgia 5/5

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Sat Jan 08 2022
5

There are 2 types of people - Nevermind people and In Utero People. I plant my feet firmly in the In Utero Camp. Brilliant, and reminds me of driving around in my first car with this in my cassette player.

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Mon Jan 17 2022
5

A masterpiece. I wish I could have heard Kirk’s follow-up.

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Tue Jan 18 2022
5

Amazing band that was constantly evolving and getting better. Shame that this was their last album.

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Wed Jan 19 2022
5

Teen angst has paid off well Now I’m bored and old

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Fri Jan 21 2022
5

Gets better through time. Great record

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Sun Feb 06 2022
5

5 🌟

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Sun Feb 06 2022
5

The peak of grunge and one of the definitive albums of the 1990s.

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