Updated date:

A Review of "In Utero" the Final Studio Album by Alternative Rock Band Nirvana Before the Death of Kurt Cobain

Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

This cover of the album In Utero continues the tradition of strange album covers by the band. The music is better though.

This cover of the album In Utero continues the tradition of strange album covers by the band. The music is better though.

Track listing for In Utero

  1. Serve the Servants
  2. Scentless Apprentice
  3. Heart Shaped Box
  4. Rape Me
  5. Frances Farmer will Have Her Revenge on Seattle
  6. Dumb
  7. Very Ape
  8. Milk It
  9. Pennyroyal Tea
  10. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
  11. Tourette’s
  12. All Apologies

Why Was In Utero a Significant Album?

Seattle based grunge rock band Nirvana formed in 1987 had attained so much popularity and commercial success by the early 1990’s that you would have thought they could go farther. Their 1993 album called In Utero is a decent release but it is not as good as Bleach or Nevermind. This album was memorable for me because I would listen to this pretty often in 1994.

Scentless Apprentice is one of the Weak Points or Is It?

One major weak point early on in the album is the screaming by vocalist and guitarist Kurt Cobain in the song "Scentless Apprentice." This kind of noise obviously detracts from the quality of the album. It may be a sign that Kurt Cobain was going through much turmoil in his life at the time and he just wanted to let it all out. There is a sort of chant of the words "go away" in this song. Unfortunately for Mr. Cobain he would literally go away from this Earth but Nirvana will always be considered one of the best bands in the alternative rock genre. Listening to this album late in 2021, this is one of those Nirvana albums that is starting to grow on me and knowing that is a comforting and good thing. Other than that part where there is the vocal scream of “go away” Scentless Apprentice is a decent song overall. The drum style sets the tone for this one.

Heart Shaped Box May Be the Most Famous Song of In Utero

"Heart Shaped Box" is the most well-known song on the album and there was a music video made for it. It has a nice soft guitar part in the beginning and it goes back to that in the middle of the song as well. A classmate of mine in middle school got me into Nirvana and I listened to these guys through much of the 1990’s before getting back into grunge rock a few years ago. One thing I find strange about Nirvana is that their lyrics don’t seem to make much sense.

The beginning part of "Heart Shaped Box" though still is very memorable even almost 30 years after the release of this album. Is "Heart Shaped Box" a defining moment for this album? Most definitely. The first line uttered by Kurt Cobain though is the most memorable part of the lyrics.

The Larger Context Behind In Utero

This album shows how much personal trouble Kurt Cobain was in because you could tell by the strain in his voice particularly the first two songs. “Dumb” is one of those songs that is indicative of the fact that Kurt Cobain was frustrated with being famous. How can you be having fun when you think you are dumb? The heavy song called "Very Ape" is really short clocking in at less than 2 minutes but it is very entertaining. The goodness of the album continues into the next song called Milk It. The song features soft mumbling parts by Cobain before he begins to shout very loudly. "Pennyroyal Tea" is another popular song on the album which was played live by the band in New York City in 1994. "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" has some senseless amplifier feedback before getting into a heavy song. I wonder what the band was thinking when they included that part. "Tourette’s" is another very heavy song that is very short. This one contains very heavy, dirty guitar tone and some more screams by Cobain. In spite of that I think this is a great song to listen to and get excited about the day.

Favorite Song On the Album In Utero

A Brief Discography of the band Nirvana

Year releasedAlbum title 











In Utero



Unplugged: LIVE in New York

"Very Ape"

How Does In Utero End?

The album ends with the song "All Apologies" which was also played live by the band in New York City during their tour. Sadly, In Utero would be Nirvana’s last album because Kurt Cobain would commit suicide thus ending the band’s career.

Final Thoughts About the Album Before Kurt Cobain's Death

In Utero for a final album is decent but I’m sure that Kurt Cobain would not have wanted to end this way. The strongest songs in the album are Heart Shaped Box, Very Ape, Milk It, Pennyroyal Tea, and Tourette’s. The album gets a total score of 75 out of 100 points after the initial review of the album. Is it any better than that as time has passed? It is not a better album that Bleach or Nevermind even if the production is better than Bleach. As of 2021, this last Nirvana studio album gets 80 out of 100 points.

"Milk It"

Best Nirvana Album

"Heart Shaped Box" Music Video

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian

Related Articles