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Nirvana's In Utero: Red Method's Ultimate Guide to the quintessential grungers' darkest album

(Image credit: Scott Chalmers)

While Nevermind may have a reputation as being Nirvana's seminal album, In Utero was hands down their darkest offering, and in 26 years not many bands have managed to replicate its melodic and catchy yet deeply disturbing sense of unease. 

Kurt Cobain's scathing lyrics tackle the upheaval the singer was experiencing – primely the difficulty he had adjusting to his new found fame thanks to the success of Nevermind, as well as his marriage to Courtney Love, becoming a father and other deeply personal subjects such as his relationship with his own father and it resulted in some of Nirvana's greatest works.

The album also delves into the more troublesome and repulsive areas of the human psyche with Scentless Apprentice inspired by the murderous tale of horror in Patrick Süskind’s 1985 novel Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer, the tragic treatment by Hollywood of 1930s starlet Frances Farmer, approached in the song Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle, and of course the controversial anti-rape ballad, Rape Me.

To celebrate 26 years of the incredible record, UK Metallers Red Method pay tribute with a metallic tasting cover of single, Heart Shaped Box

Check it out below:

As devoted fans of the iconic grungers, Red Method didn't want to stop there with their tribute, so we asked them to offer up their own analysis of the album, in its entirety, track by track...

1. Serve the servants

Alex Avdis (keys BV’s): "Oh man, Serve the Servants was the first track I heard on In Utero, this was a at time when an album would come out and you’d run to the record store buy it and ran home praying that the band you love so much didn’t fuck it up.  

"You have to understand that Nirvana had just changed the game with Nevermind which is a fucking classic but polished and deliberately set for success. when I pressed play on this one I knew it was something different. 

"I thought, oh my god, these guys don’t give a fuck! It was messy, raw, catchy of course and just a big middle finger anti pop, pop song to kick things off, it sets the tone for the rest of the album sonically, musically and lyrically.  

"I mean, the production on this album is exactly where Nirvana needed to go and it caught everyone completely off guard, what a move!

2. Scentless Apprentice

Will Myers (Bass): “This song man, Grohl is just John Bonhaming the fuck out of the drums and that chucked in with Krist’s heavy ass bass and Kurts screaming - it’s real deal rocking out.”

3. Heart Shaped Box

Jeremy Gomez (Vocals): "This track's original title was 'Heart-Shaped Coffin' and 'Umbilical Noose', which reveals much about the dark core of this song.  Since a kid I have always had a special connection deep within my heart with this song and I’ve been covering it since I was in highschool one way or another. 

"There is a part in me that will always have to pay tribute to the magic of this incredible melody. The lyrics and structure are simply genius. The song is thought to be a meditation on the excesses of love, extreme happiness and brutal depression. 

"The line ‘I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black' is the most imaginative way any songwriter has said ‘I love you’ in rock history. Kurt, what an inspiration you have always been!"

4. Rape me

David Tobin (Guitar BV): "This song needs no introduction in it's meaning. Fucking respect people or get fucked. The secondary meaning I take is to stand up against all the ugliness in the world. Rape me, beat but you will never kill me."

5. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle

David Tobin (Guitar BV): "This is hands down my favourite Nirvana song. It's so dark and brooding; the fuzz distortion on the verse is like nothing I've ever heard. 

"It's about a girl in the '30s who was sent to an insane asylum and eventually raped, tortured and lobotomised for her rebellion. 

"A big inspiration behind why I personally thought a Nirvana cover was fitting for Red Method. You will never kill the spirit of rebellion; it's immortalised in these tracks.

6. Dumb

Alex Avdis (keys BV’s): "I have always loved the bitter sweet vibe of this song but now days when I listen to it, it brings a smile to my face because it reminds me of a specific car ride with my mother where she said; 'Alex, I really like this African Doll song!' I thought what? She started singing African doll, African doll, African doll… I said, 'Mum, it’s I think I’m dumb!' 

"hahaha I was a very young boy and my mother had me in stitches, I remember exactly where we were that moment no mater how much time passes and I remember that moment every time I hear this beautiful song.  

7. Very Ape

Fred Myers (Drums): "I love Grohl’s drumming on this record. A super short pumping track that couldn’t be more nirvana!  This track always reminds me of another of my favourite bands - Queens of the Stone Age.

8. Milk It

Jeremy Gomez (Vocals): "Wow what a track such dirty, primal  grooves and most importantly a tribute to the MelvinsMilk It was maybe the closest that Nirvana got to the mission goal they set themselves on In Utero in writing an album that would drive away the mainstream fans with a frenzied punk noise. 

"There is a lot in this song that resonates within me as a teenager rebelling doing every thing that I was told not to do, pure self destruction and I loved every second of it. I always related to the lyrics  ‘I’m my own parasite’ and felt I had a lot in common at the time when facing my own self demons as a teenager. 'Till this day this song still kicks ass!"

9. Pennyroyal Tea

Will Myers (Bass): "Pennyroyal Tea is just one of those nirvana songs - I just love that instantly classic riff and the chorus is dope as fuck”

10. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter

Fred Myers (Drums): "This song sadly couldn’t be anymore relevant today. Kurt’s beautifully messy and poetic lyrics really hit me on this track. 

"The tug of war between chorus and bridge poignantly address major problems both musicians and listeners face in trying to connect and be authentic."

11. Tourette's

Quinton Lucion (lead guitar): "This song brings me back to my childhood. My very first high school band used to cover this as a closer in our set and it was always pandemonium. The crowds would lose their minds when we’d bust out this song. Pure unadulterated carnage that has stood the test of time."

12. All apologies

Quinton Lucion (lead guitar): "The opening guitar riff to this is mint and the strings in the verse just adds another dimension to this song. It’s all about the little details in this one for me - all the swells, layering and harmonies. 

"You can clearly hear how bands like Silverchair were influenced because of this song. The perfect ‘driving in the desert with the windows and sunroof down’ song."