1992 was my sophomore year in high school. I was listening to mostly albums like ‘And Justice For All’, AC/DC, and a lot of the usual stuff a teenage guy waiting to be able to drive and buy a car would want to hear. I got my music collection started through Columbia House mail order, and maybe the occasional taped alternative music tv show from a catalog or magazine. I didn’t have cable, but was not unfamiliar with MTV and whatnot (yes I did get out of the house). But anyway, most of my music info came from friends at school.
A lot of new music was happening outside of rural western IL (I tend to utilize the power of understatement). This Soundgarden show from ’92 would have been a great experience… but I did get to see Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and plenty of other bands while I was in high school. We would drive over to Davenport, IA and see a lot of bands ranging from alternative rock or “grunge” to heavy metal and industrial. (also saw Megadeth, Danzig, Marilyn Manson, STP, Smashing Pumpkins, Korn, etc). I started working pretty early in life so I guess I could afford lots of shows.
Speaking of Marilyn Manson, this NIN video has Brian what’s his name as well as the dude from Filter. I remember when I got ‘Broken’ I thought it was the most futuristic, technological sound imaginable. Nine Inch Nails sounded very new and different in the early 90’s to the average rock fan, when most bands were going for almost a more primitive approach.
Which really was controlled chaos with most of the indie alt-rock and alternametal bands of the time. One of my favorite bands, Polvo, released their first album in 1992. ‘Cor-Crane Secret’ was not discovered by most until years later. But at the time it would be a truly groundbreaking sound to witness live. They had two high level wizard guitarists who seemed to play at odds from each other, but it all worked because their guitar tones were quite different, and they knew how to create interlocking guitar parts. You could say one was a rhythm guitarist and the other was a lead, but it’s not that simple. The “lead” guitarist would often do gauzy overlays of distortion while the other guitarist played more clean but no less rockin’ parts. With the driving bass and drum rhythm section, Polvo were one of the more underrated rock bands of the 90’s.
While they have reformed, their sound is no longer quite the same after the long hiatus. After the rebirth was a new sound and a new drummer (all I can say is, the new drummer sounds great live; but the new tunes were not quite as energetic or concise). Polvo is one of the few bands I’d label indescribable. They often get the mantle of math rock godfathers, but they eschew that notion. They are more like a more taught and noisy version of Sonic Youth; who were informed by a newer sound like the Jesus Lizard or Big Black/Shellac. They also incorporated many eastern elements and melodic passages into a sound that could even seem like a western at times. A cut-up, temporally and spatially displaced western. Later they would also throw psychedelic pop into the blender much like Unwound did on their last album.
Another one of my favorite bands released an album called ‘Lysol’ in ’92. It’s a tremendous slab of low-tuned, sludgy rock n roll. Dale Crover and Buzz Osbourne are at the top of their game here:
Not to say the Melvins peaked back then; but this was their archetypal sound. They influenced a lot of great bands and still play today (should be obvious to most, but I’m always surprised that people don’t know they are still together or are aware of their legendary status). Having seen them 8 times or so, and having bought just about everything they’ve released, I can definitely say I’m a Melvins superfan. Also, this is one of my favorite songs of all time (and their best album!).
Another band that debuted an album in 1992 was Helmet. I’ve actually seen a show with Melvins and Helmet, but that’s beside the point. Here’s one from ‘Meantime’ (one of the best albums of the 90’s). This is one of my favorite transitions into a surprise chorus:
Another anthem for the time that was the early 90’s was Pantera’s ‘Vulgar Display of Power’. The ultimate groove metal album of 1992. Or was it? I was slightly offended by this notion when I first heard about it from a friend. But, Exhorder (the band many would argue that Pantera ripped off) was just as good, and arguably better with their 1992 album ‘The Law’.
…and Exhorder were better live, apparently:
Special Thanks to PP for noting that I had forgotten to include probably the best album of 1992: ‘Angel Dust’. I listened to this album over and over like a year after it was released. Still one of my favorite albums, it is a real “grower” of an album. Some have said that it was not a very heavy album, but I disagree. The keyboards gave it a darker sound, and it was the heaviest riffing from Jim Martin, their best guitarist.
The album ran the gamut between atmosphere, heavy metal, random genres such as country for one song, pop, and soundtrack covers.