“But Thorgrim,” some Nirvana fan is thinking, “Nirvana is, like, the greatest band ever! How can you put them as #10? LOL.” Correction: Nirvana is the most overrated band ever. The only band that might be more overrated is Metallica. Every time I talk about the 90s with someone, they always try to tell me how great Nirvana was. Yes, Nirvana was a good band. However, they are not even the best grunge band, let alone the “greatest band ever”. Kurt Cobain was a mediocre guitarist and terrible singer. I don’t know the bassist’s name, but he’s not that great either. The only musician that really stands out from the band is the drummer, Dave Grohl. Also, Rolling Stone Magazine loves them, and I hate Rolling Stone, so that’s automatically a deduction in my book. I’m not even going to get into how overplayed “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is.
From here on, the descriptions won’t say anything negative about the bands (after all, this is a “top ten” list). I just really needed to voice my frustration with Nirvana’s undeserved status.
The main thing that Sublime has going for them is that they’re one of the pioneering ska bands. For those that don’t know what ska is, it’s basically a fusion of reggae and punk (sounds like a weird combination, but it kicks ass). I’m not their biggest fan, so I don’t really have much to add.
8. Collective Soul
Most people classify them as a post-grunge band, but their earlier works could be considered straight-up grunge. For the longest time, they were considered a one-hit-wonder, due to their extremely popular first single, “Shine”. Over time, they’ve had more hits (“December”, “Gel”, “The World I Know”) and are definitely one of the best bands from the post-grunge/alternative scene.
Along with Pearl Jam and Nirvana, Soundgarden is one of the first bands to do grunge. Like Sublime, they’re not exactly my favorite band, so I don’t listen to them that often or really have much to say about them.
6. Symphony X
I love Symphony X. In fact, the only reason why I didn’t put them higher up on the list is because their earlier works are so heavily influenced by Yngwie Malmsteen, that they could almost be called rip-offs. As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, they started out as a symphonic metal band. However, as time went one, they developed their own unique style, blending symphonic metal and progressive metal (I’m a huge prog fan). All of their albums are pretty good, but I would recommend that new-comers start with “The Divine Wings of Tragedy”.
5. Alice in Chains
Alice in Chains represents the darker, more metallic side of grunge. One of their traditions, which I find interesting, was to release a darker, heavier LP and them release a lighter, acoustic EP afterward. Unfortunately, their career was rather short-lived, and they only released three full-length albums.
4. Smashing Pumpkins
Smashing Pumpkins isn’t really much of a band in the sense that all of the writing is done by one person: Billy Corgan. Their earlier work is kind of grungy, but they quickly chose a more bombastic, artsy form of alternative (the original meaning of “alternative”, not that pop-with-an-electric-guitar shit that you hear on the radio nowadays). It’s obvious that Cheap Trick was a big influence on Corgan.
3. Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots kicks ass. When they released their debut album, critics panned it, calling them a “rip-off of grunge”. Ignoring the fact that critics are usually full of shit anyway, how the hell can you rip off a style of music? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. I’ll admit that Scott Weiland’s vocal style is a little too similar to Eddie Vedder’s, but other than that, bullshit. Anyway, because of that, STP developed a more original style, combining grunge with psychedelic rock – a pretty awesome combination if you ask me.
2. Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam is one of the earliest and most popular bands of the grunge scene. However, while most grunge bands focused on their punk influences, Pearl Jam focused more on good old-fashioned rock and roll. They drew influence from artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. The guitar work on their albums is immensely superior to other grunge bands, such as Nirvana or Soundgarden. Also, they definitely had the most successful debut of any grunge band. Their first album, “Ten”, produced multiple hits, including “Even Flow”, “Black”, “Jeremy”, and “Alive”.
1. Dream Theater
I’m sure most people are probably thinking, “Dream Theater? What the hell is that?” It’s true; they’re not exactly mainstream. However, they are still one of the best and the most successful progressive metal bands, not just of the 90s, but of all time. Dream Theater pretty much set a precedent for progressive metal, and every prog band since has been influenced by them in some way. Like Symphony X, all of their albums are good, but the ones that I would recommend for new fans are “Images and Words” (their most commercially successful) and “Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory” (their masterpiece of a concept album).