Sound — 9
The sound quality on this album is remarkable, as songs like "Grind" and "Heaven Beside You" sound great in comparison to past collections. The band continues to make songs that are both slow and grinding, as well as melodic and heartfelt. On "Grind", Jerry Cantrell once again shows aspiring guitar players how to play the axe. Every song is listenable, despite the few flaws that may exist here.
Lyrics — 7
Layne Staley's lyrics have progressively become less and less pathetic and more and more about endurance and overcoming their painful tragedies. However, Staley just sounds pathetic himself with some lyrical matter that is totally confrontational. At times, it sounds like he's in complete defense of their place at the top of the music industry, as if they were falling from grace (which Staley's death tragically lead to). While definately not Layne's best work, he manages to provide some catchy lyrics to songs like "Heaven Beside You" and "Grind".
Overall Impression — 8
"Alice In Chains" would sadly be their last album recorded together as a band. While it has it's minor flaws, the self-titled release is impressive, none the less. Hardcore fans and newcomers alike can enjoy ballads like "Heaven Beside You" and "Over Now", while still rocking to some the band's best heavier material on songs like "Grind" and "Brush Away".