It's been just over a year since former Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland died. It was a sad way to herald in the end of the year, but that loss spawned a newfound respect. 2015 was not a great year for Weiland, all things considered. Lots of bad publicity surrounded him throughout the year as Stone Temple Pilots toured with Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington and Weiland delivered some pretty nightmarish performances with his own band.
There are times where you need to look beyond someone's faults, though. Yes, Weiland was cursed with drug abuse amongst other things, but that did not lessen his artistry or his message. He was a key voice in the grunge generation, and continued to make something of his signature voice right until the very end. Taking a look at where it all began, Stone Temple Pilots' 1992 debut Core, is just what you need to remind you of what Weiland truly stood for.
The album kicks off with the lo-fi intro of Weiland's raspy voice in 'Dead & Bloated,' one of the band's signature tracks. The groovy, chunky riffs usher you into a true grunge experience, with Weiland's voice melodically yet angrily singing with true rock flair. This album came about at the peak of the grunge scene, and this record really puts the rawest elements of the genre forward. 'Naked Sunday' is much the same, its funky riff electrified by its rebellious nature, particularly a result of Weiland's great vocal performance on the track. Another track that's truly grunge to the core is 'Wicked Garden.'
The band's debut single 'Sex Type Thing' is what truly set their mark, though. The song's blistering riff and pure grunge antics really set a fire in the genre. There's something intrinsically badass about this song, and it comes in many different forms. It could be the thick guitars. It could also be Weiland's spectacular vocals, too. Whatever it is, this song really set the bar for grunge of this caliber. The song did spawn some controversy, though; the second verse chants "I am a man, a man / I'll give ya something that ya won't forget / I said ya shouldn't have worn that dress," which many took as an advocation of rape. The song is largely the opposite: it's an anti-rape track about a girl Weiland dated in high school who was raped by members of the football team. Weiland explained the song as being "about control, violence and abuse of power."
You can't have a rock record in general without a slower track or two. This record comes with two, both of which became singles. The first of them is 'Creep' - not a cover of the Radiohead track from the same era, but a different type of slow mover. 'Creep' is a song about being on the edge of suicide amidst drug abuse (ironically), the somber chords creating a moody background behind Weiland as her defeatedly sings about his own self-destruction. The lines "Take time with a wounded hand / Cause it likes to heal / Take time with a wounded hand / 'Cause I like to steal... I'm half the man I used to be (This I feel as the dawn / It fades to gray)" really sets the tone of the track and it's distant but hopeful nature.
The second slower track is the slightly more upbeat 'Plush.' The song is electric and has more drive, but at it's core it's still a pretty sad song. The song's loosely based around finding the body of a dead little girl, as proposed by the lines "When the dogs begin to smell her / Will she smell alone?" The song battles with internal conflict, Weiland singing about feelings of loneliness and a fear of no one caring about him if he were to die. The song resolves in a strange way, the haunting words gaining more strength and confidence, as if he becomes more accepting of the fact. "Life's a wasted go," as the first verse claims, and there's no point pondering over what'll happen after it ends.
Core has some weirder tracks that aren't all about the rock n' roll vibe, but each track still maintains those elements. 'Sin' has a big intro, the song resolving into a sweet bridge that builds up into an electrifying guitar solo to bring the song to its climax. 'Piece Of Pie' adds some groove to its huge grunge tonality, Weiland's soaring vocals full of delay in the backing vocals of the verses and in the choruses. There's a weird ending to 'Crackerman' that leads it into the rolling ending song 'Where The River Goes,' which builds up with drive to form a solid, grungy ending.
Core was Scott Weiland's first mark in the world, and it's a timeless effort. Stone Temple Pilots' debut was a key record in the world of grunge. To this day, the power of Scott Weiland's voice still resonates as something unique and powerful. His life was tumultuous, but his music helped craft the very direction of rock music and, furthermore, stood the test of time to be by each fan's side. No matter what he did in his life, he gave back to the world through the avenue he knew how to, and that's all you could ask of him.
Favorite Tracks: Sex Type Thing, Plush, Creep, Dead & Bloated
Least Favorite Tracks: Wet My Bed, No Memory
Rating: 82 / 100