Sound — 8
Alice In Chains are an influential rock group formed in the late-1980s in Seattle, Washington. Along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, Alice in Chains were one of the more commercially successful bands from the Seattle grunge music scene. Unlike many of their peers, Alice in Chains owed more to heavy metal than to punk or '70s rock, but the group became closely associated with grunge due to their Seattle roots, their image, and their introspective and sometimes morbid lyrics. Dirt (1992) is Alice in Chains' major artistic statement and the closest they ever came to recording a flat-out masterpiece. It's a primal, sickening howl from the depths of Layne Staley's heroin addiction, and one of the most harrowing concept albums ever recorded. Not every song on Dirt is explicitly about heroin, but Jerry Cantrell's solo-written contributions (nearly half the album) effectively maintain the thematic coherence, nearly every song is imbued with the morbidity, self-disgust, and/or resignation of a self-aware yet powerless addict. Cantrell's technically limited but inventive guitar work is by turns explosive, textured, and queasily disorienting, keeping the listener off balance with atonal riffs and off-kilter time signatures. Staley's stark confessional lyrics are similarly effective, and consistently miserable. Sometimes he's just numb and apathetic, totally desensitized to the outside world; sometimes his self-justifications betray a shockingly casual amorality; his moments of self-recognition are permeated by despair and suicidal self-loathing. Even given it's subject matter, Dirt is monstrously bleak, closely resembling the cracked, haunted landscape of it's cover art. The album holds out little hope for it's protagonists (aside from the much-needed survival story of "Rooster," a tribute to Cantrell's Vietnam-vet father), but in the end, it's redeemed by the honesty of it's self-revelation and the sharp focus of it's music (some versions of Dirt feature "Down in a Hole" as the next-to-last track rather than the fourth).
Lyrics — 8
01. Them Bones - this song starts out heavy. There isn't much of an intro. AIC just decided to cut right to the main verse. The harmonys between Cantrell and Staley are amazing in this song. I felt that this song had a lot of meaning to it. It is also one of my favorite songs on the album. Easy to play, good lyrics. 02. Dam The River - it starts off with a great guitar riff, then going straight to a little mini-solo type thing. Staley and Cantrell once again go into harmony both on the same note, but different octaves. I love Staley's voice in the song, especially in the chorus, where he shouts "Oh you couldn't dam that river! And maybe I don't give a damn anyway". 03. Rain When I Die - I gave this song another chance. I had previously only listened to the first minute or so of the song, where I find it drags a bit. But when I listened to more of it and actually heard the whole song through, my opinion on the song completely changed. The chorus is outstanding. The song has a lot of energy to it also. 04. Down In A Hole - I love the intro to this song. This song is AIC's slower song of the album. The song starts off with a smoothing guitar sound. The drummer does a nice job of staying out of the way in this song, but not getting too sloppy. The chorus to this song is incredible. You can almost feel Staley's emotion when singing this song. Great song. 05. Sickman - Staley's voice gets a little more aggressive. The verse is awesome, the chorus is awesome, the whole song all together is awesome. I find that the best part of the song is right before the chorus when Staley and Cantrell both are shouting "AhhhhHHHHh!", again in harmony slowly going up to different notes. This is a great song. 06. Rooster - if I am not mistaken, Rooster was a single for this album. Rooster is also in my top 3 favorites for the album. Rooster, like Down in a Hole is a slower song on the album. At about 30 seconds into the song, Cantrell and Staley once again do a nice harmony that fits with the guitar extremely well. Staley's voice is almost haunting in this song. I still can't figure what the song's about, but that makes the song even better. 07. Junkhead - is another one of my favorites on this album. The song starts off like a classic, with the drummer counting off on the hi-hats. The Staley goes into harmonics with the guitar shouting "yeah". I like Staley's voice the best in this song. However, I didn't like the lyrics in this song too much. 08. Dirt - Cantrell starts off with an awesome riff with his wah pedal that completely makes the song. Staley really lets his anger out on this one. However, I don't find the song too catchy. 09. God Smack - is one of my favorite songs at this point in time, along with a whole bunch of other songs on the album. Staley and Cantrell start off with these harmonics on the guitar that are awesome. Then Staley sings with a really shaky voice in this song, which gives the song the extra "umph". Some fools clame that AIC ripped off the band, Godsmack. However, if they were smarter, they'd realize that AIC was around before Godsmack. 10. #10 - kind of like the joke song of the CD. There are just bits of laughter and haunting guitar rhythms. Continuous laughing repeats throughout the whole song, until at the end, someone shouts "Redrum!" Which is hilarious. I always enjoy this song, even if it is only 43 seconds long. 11. Hate To Feel - when I just sit down and listen to it, it ends up being one of my many favorites. The harmony's again between Staley and Cantrell are amazing. They both sing together throughout most of the song. The guitar is incredible in this song, along with the drums. This is a great song with an incredible chorus. I love this song! 12. Angry Chair - one of my faves. The beginning is quite odd actually. I don't get it. This song is actually quite good. Somehow, someway, Cantrell, Staley, and their haunting guitars somehow find a way to mix together perfectly, which makes this song excellent. 13. Would? - this was the very first AIC song I heard. I got hooked after this song. Would is one of AIC's haunting songs. Staley just pours his emotions in his singing more than any other song in this song. The bass and guitar are very smooth sounding throughout the song. And the drums are excellent too, getting that classic sound on the bell of the ride to keep the time. My favorite part of this song is in the last minute. Staley does these weird trills with his voice that leaves you hanging at the end of the song, making you want more; hence, you go back to the beginning of the song and listen all the way through again. I love this song!
Overall Impression — 7
Alice In Chains is a very individual band. Awesome lyrics, cool harmonys in the guitars, creepy bass intros, and well-beaton drums. All of it together is one of the best bands on the planet. Probably the best Grunge artist, knowing they were one of the bands that introduced it. Know one can be like Alice In Chains. Them Bones, Dam That River, Down In A Whole, Angry Chair, Would?, and Rooster are some of the best. Ultimately the best Alice In Chains CD. I just love everything about it. It all fits so well. Don't really hate anything, some songs are less catchy, but still good. I'd buy it again if it were lost/stolen due to I'm proud of owning a CD of the original Alice In Chains.