Allmusic calls grunge a "hybrid" that blends elements of heavy metal and punk rock.
and it also used punk's haphazard and untrained approach to playing and performing.
However, grunge was "deeper and darker"-sounding than punk rock and it decreased the "adrenaline"-fueled tempos of punk to a slow, "sludgy" speed and used more dissonant harmonies.
Grunge fuses elements of punk rock (specifically American hardcore punk such as Black Flag) and heavy metal (especially traditional, earlier heavy metal groups such as Black Sabbath), although some bands performed with more emphasis on one or the other.
This approach was chosen both to counter the "slick" elegant sound of the then-predominant mainstream rock and because grunge artists wanted to mirror the "ugliness" they saw around them and shine a light on unseen "depths and depravity" of the real world.
Some key individuals in the development of the grunge sound, including Sub Pop producer Jack Endino and the Melvins, explained grunge's incorporation of heavy rock influences such as Kiss as "musical provocation".
Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, labeled by Time as "the John Lennon of the swinging Northwest", appeared unusually tortured by success and struggled with an addiction to heroin before he died by suicide at the age of 27 in 1994.
The word "grunge" was used in print prior to the use of the term in mainstream publications, to refer to the Seattle music genre. Clark Humphrey, contributor to Desperate Times, cites this as the earliest use of the term to refer to a Seattle band, and mentions that Bruce Pavitt of Sub Pop popularized the term as a musical label in 1987–88, using it on several occasions to describe Green River.
By the early 1990s its popularity had spread, with grunge bands appearing in California, then emerging in other parts of the United States and in Australia, building strong followings and signing major record deals.