Sound — 8
A true milestone for Alice in chains career and for grunge/metal movement in general. The guitar work is clever and precise; the rhythmic are simple but yet powerful, getting close sometimes to those in hard rock and metal works (I.e. Dam that river, Them bones, Junkhead); solos aren't complex, often just a few tasteful notes over a distorted guitar rhythmic theme; Jerry Cantrell really does a good work in building up AIC's sound, intervening not only in the pure guitar playing but also in the music composition and songwriting. Bass lines by Mike Starr are simple and tasteful at the same time, as in "Rooster" intro. The drum work points out that Mike Kinney is a talented player; his plain but yet enjoyable drum works are stylish and never boring. And last but not least the mind, the soul and the voice of the band: Layne Staley. His vocal lines are totally flawless, powerful and deeply emotional: just listen to Rooster or Down in a hole, and you'll hear one of the most talented voices Seattle had, stirring as well as brilliant and technical. The music style of the album is again grunge/metal, as in their debut, but with more soft moments (i.e. Rooster, Down in a Hole). But to tell you the truth I would just say the music style is Alice in Chains, at their best; there are no styles and boundaries for the complex beauty of this record and for the emotions it gives to the listener (just listen to the final part of Would? Isn't it amazing).
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics, composed mainly by Jerry and Layne, are overall sad and blue; there are many references to death and depression (Them bones, Down in a hole ), drug addiction (Junkhead, Sickman), difficult relationship with God (Godsmack, a recurring theme later also in God Am). A particular contribute by Jerry Cantrell is given in the masterpiece Rooster, song which talks about Jerry's father personal experience in Vietnam War. Here again the theme of death (my buddy's breathing/his dying breath), sadness and the feeling of getting lost (I haven't find a way to kill me yet) and far away from beloved ones (Gloria [Jerry's mother] sent me pictures of my boy). The themes touched by the lyrics are not far from AIC's personal experiences: in that period started in fact Layne's serious addiction to drugs.
Overall Impression — 10
This album is a true masterpiece, an expression of Seattle Scene at his best. It's a real must-have for any rock fan. I've bought my first copy 5 or 6 years ago, and now I'm gonna buy it again because it doesn't work anymore due to use. Dirt is the second act of AIC's productions, and it is one of the most powerful and emotional pages written in the book of rock music.