Nirvana and Slothrust


Nirvana Image Credit: tonedefbrag

Zoe Joy

Before I even begin to scratch the surface of the similarities between Nirvana and Slothrust, I would like to say that Slothrust deserves a lot more love, attention, and appreciation.

There are numerous comparisons I can make; the grunge-like guitar sound, the three-piece ensemble who’s music can fill the room, to the unique rough voices of the vocalists, it’s fair to say that Nirvana and Slothrust are a part of the same family tree. The atmosphere that both of these bands manage to create through eerily blunt lyrics and thumping drum patterns are strong and passionate, both bands create their unique moods.

Nirvana, one of the best bands of all time (not an opinion, just a fact). Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and ‎Krist Novoselic pioneered the genre of grunge rock and are a staple of 90’s culture and music. One of the most unique qualities of Nirvana was their ability to make even the most light-hearted and playful lyrics sound dark and meaningful when coupled with the raw guitar, bass, and drums. Up until this point, the stereotype that all rock music had a heavy, depressing lyrical component or only spoke of sex, drugs, and Rock-n-Roll was (generally) a reality. Cobain’s lyrics broke through this mold and ushered in an era of honesty.

Contrary to many rock bands preceding Nirvana, Cobain and crew weren’t fans of the spotlight; their music was a form of catharsis, but the performances and press runs were not their motivating factor. On the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, Kurt famously wore a shirt adorned with the statement “Corporate Magazines Still Suck.” What an icon.

Alt: Nirvana and Rolling Stone

Photo Credit: Rolling Stone

If you haven’t heard of Slothrust do yourself a favor and give them a listen, now. I had the pleasure of seeing this band open for Highly Suspect, another underappreciated rock band, but that’s a story for another article. The lead singer, Leah Wellbaum, has such a unique appearance and voice, almost guttural and raw. It takes a minute to understand what you are hearing. Her guitar skills were incredible, she could bend the sound like some of our guitar heroes. This girl shreds! The bassist and drummer were perfectly in sync. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking “this is as close as it gets to seeing Nirvana live.” I realize that this is a bold claim, but the grunge influence is so potent that listening to Slothrust transports you back to the ’90s. Leah Wellbaum, Kyle Bann, and Will Gorin are a beautiful trifecta with plenty of variety interspersed throughout their very Nirvana-like riffs and lyrics.

Just as Cobain broke the mold for stereotypical rockstar lyrics and lifestyle, Wellbaum surpasses the expectations that are placed on a female-lead rock band. She’s not provocative, in fact, she’s unapologetically and she never uses her femininity to garner support. To add to her amazing sense of self, she has also come out as queer, which is incredibly refreshing to see at the center of a grungey rock group, as there is not much representation for the LGBT community in the realm of heavy rock.

Lyrical Comparison

“Pennyroyal Tea” by Nirvana- “Sit and drink pennyroyal tea/I’m anemic royalty/I’m on warm milk and laxatives/Cherry-flavored antacids”

“Juice” by Slothrust- “My name is Leah and I drink juice/Every morning when I wake up but it’s no use/I’m unwell/Can you tell that I’m sick in the brain?”

Slothrust Photo


Nirvana and Slothrust make listening to rock music a refreshingly and uninhibited experience. Their honesty and openness feel like the inner monologue of the listener channeled into an album. Listen to Nirvana as you wait for Slothrust to break into the limelight. Why? Because you have to respect your classics.