Las Vegas-based Grunge Act The Crimsons Bring Back Classic Sound with Debut EP Underground

4.5 out of 5 stars

The Crimsons are a Las Vegas-based grunge band that caught my attention earlier this year when I saw them playing at a slew of shows in town. Then I went to Spotify to see if they had any songs on there, and they had put out two singles (“My Oh My” and “Scare The Damned”).

When I heard “My Oh My” I immediately heard a heavy Nirvana influence of the era of Bleach and even to some extent the Incesticide album. I personally love grunge music when it is done well, but most bands over dramatize it. The Crimsons do not.

The new EP, Underground, that was released on April 29th, 2022 is an extension of what I would say is a callback to the early days of when grunge started to gain popularity instead of the massive bands like Pearl Jam or Alice In Chains who always had a lot more bravado than bands like Nirvana or even Soundgarden, in my opinion.

The EP starts off with the song, “You’re No Good.” If you remember the beginning of “Aneurysm” where it has a long build then goes into the verse, you can definitely hear that at the beginning of this song. It’s a cool homage, and that is my favorite Nirvana song of all time. Aside from that comparison, you get a lot of the cool start and stops of some of the famous grunge songs from the early 90’s.

The cool part about The Crimsons is that the OLDEST member is in their mid-twenties. The lead singer and guitarist, Krister, is only 22 years old. That makes my head explode knowing how well they understand the grunge movement 30 years ago, because I was in junior high school during that time, and I hear a lot of the angst and passion coming from this band that was so prevalent of bands that I liked at the time.

“Mistreated” has a very catchy guitar hook that for a few seconds will remind you of “Lithium” by Nirvana. It’s almost as if the band has been able to channel Nirvana and keep playing songs that the band itself would have played if they were still around to do so.

Next up is the title track “Underground” which is a song more in the In Utero era really but mashed with the loudness and demo sound of Bleach. 

The lyrics aren’t available for the songs, but unlike most grunge, you can actually hear the vocals pretty clearly. A lot of the songs tend to be about a loneliness or isolation or a failed relationship, but instead of making the subject matter sappy, it is more about making it an emotive state of being - very much how I remember good grunge songs being. Instead of outright saying, “I’m happy or I’m sad,” the songs tell a tale of moments or use a distorted metaphor to help convey the emotion.

“Insanity” is the 4th track, and it is a bit more clear that the 4 chord progression of grunge bleeds through here very heavily. It’s almost as if you can hear songs like “Rape Me” or “Smells Like Teen Spirit” bleed in (btw, those songs have the same 4 chords in a different order). Aside from that though, the song is rocking with a heavy bass line and lots of crash cymbal hits and even riding an open hi-hat from the sound of it.

Interestingly enough, the next song, “Gotta Find A Way” (which is actually a line from the Nirvana song “Territorial Pissings”) starts out with a bit of a Green Day “Brain Stew” guitar riff and moves into a much more melodic and rocking song after that. It is probably my favorite song on the album overall, and the guitar solo towards the end is pretty rad too (even if it isn’t 100% clean - the byproduct of not being able to re-record things a hundred times due to time, technology or cost restraints).

The final song on the EP, “A Broken Heart,” sees the band come around with a little more atmospheric sound due to a chorus/reverb effect on the guitar. It’s a bit “shoegaze” mixed with grunge, but by the time the chorus comes around, you can hear the grunge come out through the love song that it is. This song is probably the best mix of modern day rock mixed with old school grunge. It is a tricky thing to bring an old sound into the present, but The Crimsons do it well on this track.

Overall, I love the effort, the sound, and the songs on this EP. Clearly, with more money and time spent on the recordings, it could probably be mixed and mastered better, but for a band that is only about 5 or 6 months old, it is one of the best EP’s I have heard in a very long time out of the gate, and the songs definitely bring back memories of the good old days of grunge.