Grunge (often called the 'Seattle Sound') is a sub-genre of heavy metal (often referred to as a part of 'alternative rock'). The genre arrived during the mid-1980s, centered in the American city of Seattle, Washington. The independent record label 'sub pop' was the center of the activity. By the early 1990s its popularity had spread throughout the USA and grabbed the attention of major record labels.
Inspired by hardcore punk and heavy metal, grunge is identified by sludgy electric guitar sound that uses a high level of distortion, fuzz and feedback effects, contrasting song styles, "growling" vocals and apathetic and/or angst-filled lyrics. Like punk, grunge had adopted a stripped-down approach to standard rock music and lyrical topics. However, it kept the complex instrumentation and harmonics of heavy metal. In appearance it included rebellious and, often simplistic clothing (thrift store items and the typical outdoor clothing - most notably flannel shirts), with little theatrics. Bands often perform with an emphasis on more punk or more metal in the mix. grunge concerts were known for being straightforward, high-energy performances. grunge bands rejected the complex and high budget presentations of many musical genres.
The point of popularity for grunge was Nirvana's 'Nevermind' in the early 1990s. Other pioneering albums like: Pearl Jam's "Ten", Soundgarden's "Badmotorfinger", Alice in Chains' "Dirt", and Stone Temple Pilots' "Core", followed. Soundgarden was the first grunge band to sign to a major label when they joined A&M Records in 1989.
Grunge ended off being a short lived movement for as it turns out it was linked too closely to Kurt Cobain leader of the band Nirvana, labeled by Time as "the John Lennon of the swinging Northwest," who appeared "unusually tortured by success". Cobain struggled with an addiction to heroin before he committed a highly publicized suicide at the age of 27 in 1994. Little diversification, lack of visibility and a set of major band break ups would nail the final nails into the coffin of grunge. Although most grunge bands had disbanded or faded from view by the late 1990s, their influence continues to affect modern rock music.
Although writer Paul Ramball used the word 'grunge' in a 1978 NME article to describe mainstream guitar rock, Mark Arm (vocalist of Green River and Mudhoney) is generally credited as being the first to use the word 'grunge' in 1981 to describe this new style of music when he wrote a letter under his given name, Mark McLaughlin, to the Seattle magazine Desperate Times, criticizing his band Mr. Epp and the Calculations as "Pure grunge! Pure noise! Pure shit!".
Lately some grunge bands have made plans to re-unite (Soundgarden), but for the most part the genre is considered 'dead'.
Grunge is considered a 'dead' genre, despite attempts at resurgence. Diskery has no plans at this time, however, to remove it (or artists listed under it) from the database.
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