Jar Of Flies Review

artist: alice in chains date: 06/15/2009 category: compact discs
alice in chains: Jar Of Flies
Released: Jan 25, 1994
Genres: Grunge, Alternative Rock
Label: Columbia
Number Of Tracks: 7
"Jar Of Flies" is the third studio EP by Alice In Chains.
 Sound: 9.6
 Lyrics: 9.3
 Overall Impression: 9.7
 Overall rating:
 9.7 
 Reviewer rating:
 9.5 
 Users rating:
 9.8 
 Votes:
 65 
reviews (9) 23 comments vote for this album:
overall: 9
Jar Of Flies Reviewed by: DownInAHole., on august 15, 2006
4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sound: A 7-song acoustic EP released in January 1994. This album shows a side of Alice In Chains we previously had not seen. They still had haunting yet melodic songs but they were performed on acoustic guitars, but most of the solos were done on electric guitar. I liked the concept. I also noticed, you don't hear that much drums on this album that was the only thing that I disliked about the sound because Sean Kinney is an amazing and innovative drummer. // 8

Lyrics: Layne Staley did most of the songwriting on this album, writing 4 out of 7 songs. But as always, Jerry Cantrell's "No Excuses" produced the biggest hit. Jar of Flies is a very lyrical album, you can feel exactly how Layne is feeling through his vocal work, he sang like a bird. From a blissful yet somber, "Nutshell" to a more postitive "No Excuses" Layne did it again, amazing us all. // 9

Overall Impression: I love this album to a certain extent that I won't let anyone borrow it. Jar of Flies is the first and only EP to debut at number one. I think that is a very interesting statisitic and I think that fact alone speaks for itself. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this album because I guarantee that you will love it. If it got lost or stolen I would definatley buy it again. And for just 7 songs on it you probably will love 6. It's well worth the money so go pick up Alice In Chains 4th album Jar Of Flies. // 10

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overall: 9
Jar Of Flies Reviewed by: zope, on june 15, 2009
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: If you are looking for an authentic purely grunge CD you've got to look for Pearl Jam or as I prefer, any of the mainly acoustic EPs from Alice In Chains, SAP and Jar Of Flies, (don't look for Nirvana, you're gonna miss out on the others). Any of the members of Pearl Jam or Alice in Chains can kick any Nirvana member on their respective instruments, yes, to me, including voice. This record is a very good example of this. This is one of the pure grunge records, made by four fine musicians, including nice orchestrations, soulfull acoustics by both guitar and bass, very complex drumming and a voice that for me is one of grunge trademarks. Besides the album is depressing and very drug oriented as grunge is expected to be. As for the individual parts, Jerry Cantrell might be the best guitarist in the genre, and he is the genius behind Alice in Chains. He wrotes the songs, sings in every song, and not just backing vocals (he sings Don't Follow almost entirely), and plays in a complex way. Mike Inez is debuting in this album after replacing Mike Starr. Even though he uses a pick his sound is awesome and strong especially in Rotten Apple. Sean Kinney is a hell of a drummer too, I'm not a drummer but I hear very complex use of hi hat and tumms, very acurate fills made in the correct places, his highest point is probably No Excuses. Layne Staley has a great voice, strong, he can scream very powerfully, very throaty and makes a great couple in harmonizing with Jerry Cantrell, who's voice is, lets say, a little sweeter. 01.Rotten Apple: great song! Grunge is a subgenre of Alternative Rock which is a mixture of influences from 70s rock, heavy metal, punk and even 60s rock, so what about psychedelic too. This song has a very psychedelic sound starting off with a strong bassline that settles a great mood giving me the chills from the start. Then Jerry kicks in with a great lead with a very accurate use of wah and great effects. Then Sean Kinney enters with some patterns in his plates before starting with a strong pattern where a backing arpeggiated guitar enters. Then the voice comes in, a perfect harmony between Jerry and Layne, that only adds on to the psychedelic mood. Their na na na parts are great. And very cool backing from the guitar in some arpeggios and strumming. Seriously, this guys where very deep on drugs and did transmitted very well on their music. Then the chorus has an amazing bass line, where you see a quality bassist playing his own part to create a mood instead of playing what the guitar plays. There is another verse and chorus. Then there is a small solo again over the main pattern in the song giving way to the interlude line from the bass which is a variation of the main part, very chilly too. Then the verse and the chorus are repeated to give way to the outro. The same main pattern with some variations with the fills by Sean, very accurate, and a solo from Jerry recorded over a lead pattern on another guitar. Jerry performs a very hardcore solo with a clean sound that sttles amazingly with the song. 02.Nutshell: when it comes to depression, this song is an anthem. The nostalgic acoustic guitar backed by a strong yet simple and gentle bass line set a mood for lying on your bed staring at the roof or floor. Sean Kinney does a great performance, and Layne's voice and lyrics do make you feel alone. During both verses there are slight variations by Mike on bass. After the verse there's no chorus just a nice part with some leads that joins both verses. After the second verse there is the part with the leads again giving way to a great solo, backed by the main part but with some variations on the bassline and the drumms. This is one of Jerry's best solos, it's a classic. 03.I Stay Away: a very clean song with an orchestration that takes you high after the depression imposed by previous tracks. Another great harmony between Jerry and Layne. The guitar's main part is strummed with a heavy riff in the breidge where Mike develops an interesting bassline. Mike is an amazing bassist who came to fit in alice in chains as a ring to the finger. Sean's drumms are very simple, nothing great in this song. There is an interlude where Layne screams "I stay Away" which I think is the highest point in the song followed by great violins before the solo, nothing great too. Then there is another chorus and the real high part is when the interlude is repeated and Layne sings four times the "I stay away" part doing slight variations, to close the song. Even though musically only Mike and Layne impress me in this song, the song is ver very great, just that Jerry and Sean play it simple. 04.No Excuses: this song starts of with very complex drumming due to Sean's very good use of the hi hat, plates and everything, he just builds a very complex and variated pattern. Then the guitar's come in strumming, and mike develops a nice pattern, this time it is he who is not that impressive. Another great harmony between Jerry and Layne, singing very soulfully. The Chorus carries a great lead on the guitar. This song definitely continues with the great mood from previous song. There is another verse chorus to give way to a very simple solo but very well suited. Then there is another verse chorus with a slight variation on guitars for the chorus, very soulfull. The song ends with only the guitar and bass line played. 05.Whale and Wasp: This is an very good instrumental, it is build by some nice arpeggios from the guitar, a harmony on two electric guitars with a lot of delay and echo effects, there is also a nice bassline that accompanies everything. The general feel of the song is that of a string quartet. 06.Don't Follow: This is another nostalgic song but it has a bit of a happy mood. The song has an arpeggiated guitar throughout the first part where Jerry alone with a little back up from Layne sings two verses. In the second verse there is a bit of a wind instrument that keeps on going for the rest of the song. There is an interlude a bit faster with the rest of the instruments where the harmonica just goes nuts. This part is sung by Layne. Then everything chills out again for Jerry to sing his last line and play his last strum. 07.Swing On This: I don't like this song very much, that doesn't mean it is not a good one. This is a jazzy song, with very complex drumms as jazz is supposed to be, a defining bassline, and very strong guitars. The voice is a great, with great harmonies but I think it is not as well suited as other songs on the record, or other AIC songs. The solo is very bluessy, hardcore but clean as in Rotten Apple. Other thing I don't like is the sudden ending, I love sudden endings in songs but this is the closing of an album, it gives me the taste of inconclussion. The rate of the record would be 10 without Swing on This and its ending. // 8

Lyrics: 01.Rotten Apple: I interpret this song as Layne sending images about some aspects wrong, corrupted or aspects that society messes up. The apple is the apple of the tree of knowledge of good and evil from the bible, metaphorically is what we eat when we start getting corrupted by our own society. We eat it so young and our innocence is stolen. The song is sung in harmony by Layne and Jerry, great voices together. 02.Nutshell: this song is about being lonely by not fitting into the stereotypes settled by society. It is not strange that a rock star is a misfit, a kid who was bullied in school and feels alienated because he can't fit. Layne sings with his best voice in this song. 03.I Stay Away: This song, to me, is about, Layne wanting to do something right for his life, but noting that he wouldn't in his lifestyle: "I want to travel south this year, wont prevent safe passage here". He starts acting crazy (consuming) hurting a lady, probably his wife (who could also be consuming), pushing her away ("I stay away"), this was probably the story of his life until he died due to his severe drug addiction. Kids: he is the best example of drugs being bad, don't get lost in that world, every body repents it. 04.No Excuses: this one's Jerry's. It must've been very frustrating knowing that they he did on of the greatest formulas in rock history with Layne, but he wasn't half the junkie Layne was, and Layne's drug addiction made it real hard to work with him. Also, their friendship was an important part for him to write this song, he forgive every thing Layne did even with no excuses, he still loved him and respected him. I think he didn't help his friend as say, the chili peppers with john frusciante, but that's no matter for me to discuss, I really don't know. I Think in this song there's the best harmony in the entire record. 05.Whale and Wasp: Instrumental, full of emotion. I found an interesting meaning saying that a whale means calm, and the wasp is the stinging part of life, sort of a ying yang, and the sound of the song might actually have that mood. 06.Don't Follow: Jerry's lyrics again. This song I believe is about the miseries of life, and growing up changing moods and changing social circles through life, saying to the previous not to follow, I've moved on. Then he sees he is in a place he doesn't necesarily wants to be there, he is drinking or probably worse, he then wants to go back claiming take me home, to end with say goodbye don't follow. He probably remembers childhood before taking drugs, then he starts his new lifestyle where he can't go back. It doesn't have to be in drugs, it might just be about moving on. Recently I've been nostalgic and I wish I was 16 again where life was easier than 23, but I have to move on. 07.Swing On This: this is Layne again. I don't like saying every song is about drugs but this one's pretty obvious. People want to help him, he denies, he starts feeling he might not be that good, he denies, he really falls in deep and figures he needs the help so finally he gets it. // 10

Overall Impression: This is my favorite AIC album, every song is amazing except for Swing on This which does have great lyrics. I said a couple of weeks ago, in a Wish You Were Here review, that Pink Floy was amazing because every member had a very defined role in the band's sound. The same happends here, Sean brings a nice complex rythm very variated in sound, Mike sttles a melodic deep mood, Jerry has the main structure and together with Layne give a great harmonized voice. Kurt Cobain overdubbed, well AIC achieves it with two voices, not that they don't overdub but they definitely sound better. This record is grunge in it's highest point. Fool of emotion and with great lyrics. Can't wait for the new album. // 9

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overall: 10
Jar Of Flies Reviewed by: unregistered, on october 23, 2003
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Layne Staley's strong vocals, combined with Jerry Cantrell's soft and depressing riffs help make this CD what it is. This album continues off what Dirt didn't have. It shows another type of music Alice In Chains can dish out. // 10

Lyrics: The lyrics on this album are some of the strongest I've ever heard. Songs such as Nutshell and Don't Follow show what the band can do lyrically. The instrumentals go well with the vocals. Mike Inez, Jerry Cantrell, and Sean Kinney play some of the most deppressing instrumentals I've heard. // 10

Overall Impression: I recommend this album to any grunge fan or anyone who is into alternative rock. It is worth the money, even though it only contains seven tracks. // 10

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overall: 9.3
Jar Of Flies Reviewed by: unregistered, on october 24, 2003
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Was there life after Dirt? The epic album spanning Layne Staley's eventually fatal drug addiction was a hard act to follow: it was heavy, it was somber, and it was good. So what better way to show their mettle than to go in the opposite direction? Jar of Flies shows the music that Jerry Cantrell had always been capable of writing, but just didn't have the artistic license to until that point. The subtle, filtered guitar that Jerry uses on tracks like Rotten Apple mixes so well with the dirge-like bass that you'd swear it was a single instrument. Combined with Staley's powerful vocals, it becomes the sonic equivalent of sheer anguish. Not that at some points it doesn't pick up the pace a tad. No Excuses is an uptempo foray into full-song harmonization that will have you humming the tune for years to come. // 10

Lyrics: This album and Dirt have arguably the band's strongest lyrics. Actually, that's not too arguable after all. The record is completely devoid of cliched subject matter and nonsensical verse, like so many of today's artists. // 8

Overall Impression: Get this album. There's really nothing I can recommend more. The songs are all incredibly well-written, and the musical talent of Jerry and company cannot be denied. On such an impressive album, it's hard to select the most impressive song, but for sheer scope and musicianship, I Stay Away is the standout track. Even if you're too cheap to buy the EP, download that song. // 10

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overall: 10
Jar Of Flies Reviewed by: unregistered, on august 23, 2004
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: After two very heavy albums by Alice in Chains ("Facelift" and "Dirt") "Jar Of Flies" is a pleasant surprise. The guitars cut through each track like a knife, but they never come close to cutting the vocals out. The result is a stunning mixture of top-notch guitar solos, bright acoustic guitar work and haunting melodies. Finding a song on this album as second best is hard when there isn't a bad or even average song on the album. Every song is equally amazing. // 10

Lyrics: The lyrics are as always with Alice In Chains, great. Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell are the go-to guys for depressing and painful lyrics, which fit perfectly with their singing. Layne Staley was an incredible singer and guitarist Jerry Cantrell is just as good. Together they create an amazing atmosphere in every song on "Jar Of Flies". // 10

Overall Impression: It's tough to find something bad about this album. Every song is a unique classic. Guitars are great, singing is great and although I haven't mentioned them yet, the rythm section does a great job on this album as well. Picking the best songs are hard, but my favorites are "Nutshell", "No Excuses" and "Don't Follow". If I lost this album I would immediatly buy it again, no question about it. // 10

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overall: 9.3
Jar Of Flies Reviewed by: unregistered, on march 11, 2005
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: First of all I love Alice In Chains they were defintley the best band of the '90s and the best grunge band ever (well tied with Pearl Jam and Soundgarden). While Dirt and Facelift were their heaviest albums this album still kicks some major butt. They do some pretty sweet guitar work on this album combing their traditional drawn out distorted guitar riffs with some acoustic stuff. The result is some really sweet sounding music. I love this album. And the sound is really clean and crisp the music was recorded and mixed really well. // 10

Lyrics: Layne Staley was the man. His vocals flat out ruled all. I love his vocals, they blend with the music pretty well (not as well as Pearl Jam). Staley was the best over all singer next Chris Cornell. RIP Layne Staley. // 10

Overall Impression: This is a great album and any grunge fan will love and any AIC fan will love it even more. While Dirt and Facelift are better and heavier this album will stand the test of time. If I lost this album I would defintley but it again. I own all the AIC albums and I love this one. // 8

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overall: 9.3
Jar Of Flies Reviewed by: unregistered, on may 17, 2005
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: While most these days only remember AiC for their heavy, sludgy grunge classics such as "Rooster" and "Man In A Box," the groups acoustic material is equal or better. Jar Of Flies, an acoustic EP, is easily one of the most beautiful works from a rock band in the '90s. Each song comes at you differently, from the melancholy "Nutshell," the edgy "I Stay Away," to the very underated "Don't Follow," which is rooted in deep southern gospel and blues. Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley's patented voice layering in open 5ths cuts through like a knife through butter on the standout single "No Excuses," possible AiC's best song. // 10

Lyrics: While AiC's previous work (Dirt) was rooted in the living hell of drug addiction, and portrayed deep depression and gloom, "Jar Of Flies" suggests a brighter hope for the future, and leaving behind a troubled past. "No Excuses," thought by some to be a wake up call from Jerry to Layne. While "Nutshell" depicts the isolation and lonlieness of withdrawal. For hardcore fans of the band, the lyrics overall give a glimmer of hope the Layne Staley was overcoming his addiction to heroin. While he may have at the time, we now know that he eventually lost his battle. In losing Layne Staley, we lost one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time, and dare I say, better than Kurt Cobain. // 8

Overall Impression: Following harder and grungier albums Facelift and Dirt, Jar Of Flies is an excellent change of pace which really showed the depth of songwriting and muscianship that the group had. All 7 songs are very strong, each carrying a feeling and musical direction of their own. An extremely beautiful and emotional album to take in, Jar Of Flies belongs in the library of any fan of rock music, or really any fan of music in general. // 10

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overall: 9.7
Jar Of Flies Reviewed by: larry jones, on september 25, 2006
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: After the EP "Sap", Alice In Chains followed with another acoustic-based EP- "Jar of Flies". "JOF" is refreshingly dark and apathetic from the first track, a six minute "Rotten Apple," to the jazzy "Swing on This". Inbetween are rock hits "Nutshell," where Jerry Cantrell's guitar talent is showcased beautifully, "No Excuses," exceptional drumming displayed by Sean Kinney, and the dark and gloomy verses of "I Stay Away". The mainly acoustic EP may be the group's best work. // 10

Lyrics: Layne's lyrics aren't as powerful as on "Dirt", but he provides some lyrical depth with "Nutshell" and "I Stay Away". The vocals are less intense, and Staley shows off his softer vocals slightly more than in "Dirt". The atmosphere surrounding the album is very dark and depressing, yet Cantrell backs Staley beautifully on each track. Overall, the guitar work and vocals match up perfectly. // 9

Overall Impression: There is not much to be said about this seven song EP excpet that Alice In Chains delivers a smash hit with its compact, yet intricate songs. Jar of Flies is the first EP to ever reach #1 on the Billboard Music Charts, and it is obvious to see why it became so popular. // 10

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overall: 10
Jar Of Flies Reviewed by: born2rock10, on june 04, 2008
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: After Alice In Chains released their masterpiece "Dirt" i dont think anyone knew what to expect from them after. Replacing the heavy Sabbath-like riffs and dark acoustic ballads, i think Alice In Chains wrote the perfect follow up to Dirt. Shedding a little more light on Layne Staley's addiction. The whole album is dark and depressing (save for maybe the final track "Swing On This") but there seems to be a little light shining through the dark lyrics. YOu will be hooked to this acoustic ep right from the start of "Rotten apple" to the swingy "Swing On This". // 10

Lyrics: 01. Rotten Apple- a perfect start to this album. Definently one of the darkest tracks written by AIC. Layne's vocals are at there darkest and the lyrics seem to be about losing childhood innocence, eating the forbidden apple from the tree. Jerry Cantrell has a very strange sound to his guitar which suits the strange sound of the whole song. Mike Inez's AIC album debut is an excellent one and Sean Kinney's drums are excellent as always. Definently an underrated masterpiece. 02. Nutshell- my personal favorite by Alice In Chains. I actually did a report on this song my freshman year in high school and got like my only A that whole year cuz of it. The acoustic guitar is just so soulful and dark yet beautiful. Laynes vocals and lyrics are perfect... bottomline. The wordless croon in the chorus is hauntingly beautiful and Jerry's solo at the end is one of the most beautiful and soulful and underrated pieces ever. Its no wonder this song has been covered so many times by so many bands (i even saw a video of Chris Daughtry covering it). I definently want this song played at my funeral. Perfect. 03. I Stay Away- I actually think this song is a little overrated but what i really do like about this song is it's originality. Laynes Vocals are also again, haunting and very unique. The lyrics dont make much sense, but you know what? they still kick ass. Def a lot of soul went into this track. 04. No Excuses- Another one of my favorites and a perfect example of how well Layne and Jerry's vocals mesh. It's a track made perfectly for the radio but it's not cheesy in any way (take that Fall Out Boy, fuckin pussies). Another one of the highlights, at least to me, is the bluesy solo. Another great track. 05. Whale & Wasp- lyrics? who the fuck needs lyrics. Jerry puts so much emotion into this instrumental. If you close your eyes you can actually see it being played at a funeral... Layne's unfortunately. It actually scared the shit outta my younger cousin when she first heard it... its dark and thats what i love about it. Sure its not as long as one of Metallicas intrumental (which, dont get get me wrong i love metallica, tend to get boring) its short, sweet and to the point. Excellent. 06. Don't Follow- This shows off AIC's bluesier side. Jerry's warm vocals and lightly finger picked guitar leaves and image in your head of him playing in a bar just for a handle of Jack. It also features a harmonica which i love... Is there noting Alice In chains cant do? But thats not all... it gets better in the bridge when Jerry starts strumming and Layne just goes all out. Could be about a relationship with girls or Jerrys relationship with Layne. whatever it is its great. 07. Swing On This- first AIC showed off some blues, now, swing and a little bit of a country influenece. I actually despised this song but it grew on me and I actually its new, fresh and unique. Layne vocals are once again haunting and the chorus will make you shit yourself. layne seems to be talking about his relationship with a girl, family and friends because of his heroin abuse. Great ending to a great album. // 10

Overall Impression: This album definently does not compare with any one else album just because of the originality. All of the songs are highlights and the only thing that could possibly make this album better is more songs, but then again that would probably take away all of the power and energy that these 7 masterpieces give off so, scratch that. I love the power and soul that the whole band puts into it. This is definently Alice In Chains at their performance peak before they slipped on the tripod album (which is still a way better performance than a lot of other artists performance). I actually kinda stole this album from my mom and she stole it from one of her friends who was goin to jail and I already have the album saved on my computer so I wouldn't be too pissed if someone stole it seein how I stole it but it would still piss me off because it's a masterpiece from my favorite band damn it. // 10

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