‘In Utero’: How Nirvana Help Shape 90s Rock With Final Album

Produced in Minnesota by Steve Albini, the album helped change the course of 90s rock.

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Nirvana 'In Utero' artwork - Courtesy: UMG
Nirvana 'In Utero' artwork - Courtesy: UMG

An album that helped to shape the direction of rock music in the 1990s was released on September 21, 1993. Nirvana’s In Utero, produced in a Minnesota studio by Steve Albini, went straight to the top of the UK countdown the following week, unseating Meat Loaf‘s Bat Out Of Hell II in the process. It did the same in America with first-week sales of 180,000, replacing country king Garth Brooks’ In Pieces album at the top as it stormed towards quintuple platinum status in the US.

In Utero had a huge act to follow as the successor to Nirvana’s 1991 breakthrough Nevermind, which was ten-times platinum in America and would spend an aggregate of five years on the chart there. But the new record, which contained the singles “Heart-Shaped Box,” “All Apologies,” and “Pennyroyal Tea,” went on to worldwide sales of some 15 million copies.

Nirvana - Heart-Shaped Box (Official Music Video)

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With the album release imminent, Cobain told The Observer what an influence British bands had had in his musical upbringing, from the gothic element in Nirvana inspired by Joy Division to the punk energy of the Sex Pistols. While still a child, he read reports of their US tour. “I’d just fantasize about how amazing it would be to hear this music and be part of it,” he said. “But I was 11; I couldn’t. When I finally heard American punk groups like Flipper and Black Flag, I was completely blown away. I found my calling.

‘Fast, with a lot of distortion’

“There were so many things going on at once, because it expressed the way I felt socially, politically, emotionally. I cut my hair, and started trying to play my own style of punk rock and guitar: fast, with a lot of distortion.”

Listen to the best of Nirvana on Apple Music and Spotify.

What Nirvana’s fans couldn’t have known about In Utero was that they were buying the band’s final album. Little more than six months after its release, Cobain passed away at the age of 27, Nirvana’s three-album legacy was set in stone and their album sales would climb to 75 million units and rising.

Pre-order the 30th anniversary multi-format reissues of In Utero, which are released on October 27, 2023.



  1. Ryan

    September 30, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    I appreciate you writing ‘passed away’, a lot of articles and interviewers just say ‘died’ or ‘death’ which personally sounds harsher and less respectful but this is the first article I’ve read where ‘passed away’ is used; a very beautiful article to read, thanks 🙂


    December 4, 2020 at 4:03 am

    i love nirvana thank you for saying ‘passing away’best band ever

  3. Letha Rose

    February 7, 2021 at 3:03 am

    My Great-grand father, Rex Rose, was the old man on the cross. He was in the last stages of cancer and actually started hemorrhaging on the cross and had to be rushed to the ER where he later passed away. I was told by my grandfather that it freaked out some of the band members because of the lyrics about cancer. I thought fans might find that interesting.

  4. Bob

    March 14, 2021 at 3:49 am

    I love the music and the band, but “Passing away” is a gross euphemism for blowing your brains out

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