The end of the year is always a time for reflection. Decibel‘s infuriating “Best of 2011” issue is out, and between angry emails sent to the magazine’s editors excoriating them for “fucking it up once again,” thoughts inevitably turn toward recollections of the past. We’re now 20 years removed from “the year that punk broke”—that is to say, the year Nirvana went from underground to impossible-to-avoid—an occurrence that has had a lasting effect on not just metal, but the entire music industry.
Nineteen ninety-one was a watershed year for hard/heavy music no matter what side of the fence you were on. If you were in L.A., riding high on cocaine dreams spawned by your band’s recent signing to a major label when the fucking rug was permanently pulled out from under your sorry ass, chances are you are still holding onto some resentment (see below). If you had become disillusioned by watching one after another of your favorite metal bands sign to a major label and then become horrible (see video) under the guidance of people who had no idea what the NWOBHM even was, then there was a certain joy in seeing Babylon (L.A.) metaphorically reduced to ashes. It was cleansing.
It amuses us to still hear anger directed at Nirvana/Seattle/grunge for “killing metal,” or whatever. (Personally, we’re of the opinion that that particular death was self-inflicted.) So, how could we not mention the release of Thanks Seattle…For Killing My Dreams and My Band, by Royal Blood, an album recorded in 1991—ostensibly for a major label—but not released until now, courtesy of FNA Records. Royal Blood, which included Italian shred hero Alex Masi and ex-Michael Schenker Group bassist Rocky Newton, not surprisingly, epitomizes exactly the kinds of bands that were instantly made redundant with Nirvana, et al’s success. Listen for yourself here.
Obviously grunge didn’t eradicate metal. Did a handful of bands from Seattle help change the loud music paradigm? Probably. But even those NW bands grew up listening to metal, or were in metal bands of some description. There is shared DNA, so to continue to see ire directed toward them so many years later is comical. After all, we’ll take this:
Over this, any day:
But as a former Seattle resident, we would still like to humbly extend an apology to Alex Masi, Rocky Newton, Eric Gelbach and your anonymous drummer for whatever small part we may have played in killing your band and career. We didn’t mean to. Really. And, in some small way, you have had the last laugh because your album was finally released twenty years after the fact. And where’s Kurt Cobain today?