Sound — 10
Right from the wordless howl in the beginning of "Them Bones" to the end of "Would?" you will be hooked to this record. This album featues fast and heavy tracks (Them Bones, Dam That River, Sickman, God Smack), very melodic (Rain When I Die, Down In A Hole, Rooster, Would? ) and sick and twisted grungy motherf--kers (Junkhead, Dirt, Hate To Feel, Angry Chair). Be warned though, this album is not for the feint of heart. The music isn't as sick and twisted as maybe a Slayer album but it is depressing so you have been warned. Jerry Cantrell's solos seem to be rooted in blues with a little bit of his own twist. Along with Sean Kinney's unique, textured drumming and Mike Starr's smooth bass line this make for a very unique album and it's no wonder so many artists of today (including myself) is influenced by this album and band. Every note is played to perfection.
Lyrics — 10
This is right in my alley seeing how I'm a singer and lyricist so this part will be probably the best part of my review. 01. Them Bones - great opening, one of the fastest and heaviest songs and a definent highlight to the album. Jerry Cantrell's lyrics tell the perfect story of one who does not know where he will end up once he is dead. Death is scary, do not lie. Layne Staley makes this song so haunting with his very unique and tortured vocals. Plus the solo is f--kin bonerific. 02. Dam That River - also written by Cantrell, is about a fight he had with Sean Kinney. Not one of Jerry's best job in the lyrical department but he makes up for it with the in-your-face music and Layne's high-pitched vocals. I love the live version even better. 03. Rain When I Die - written by both Layne and Jerry, it is a truly beautiful song. The intro is like foreplay, the chorus is sex and the ending is like the climax. Layne's vocals are so beautiful in this track especially during the chorus. It can bring a tear to your eyes seeing how Layne Staley has passed. 04. Down In A Hole - the softest track on the album. The wordless croon at the beginning will send chills down your spine, no joke. Great poetic lyrics by Jerry and one of the best jobs of harmonizing (if that's a word) by Layne and Jerry. 05. Sickman - borderline trash. Layne lets you get a peak into his sick world ruled by heroine. The pre-chorus howls are so beautifuly terrifying. More great lyrics by Laayne and more tortured vocals. A little over the top but it suits the lyrics mesh well. Layne even asked Jerry to write the most deranged music he can. Job well done. 06. Rooster - power ballad written by Jerry in tribute to his father. Perfect war imagery and great vocals by Layne. One of the few bright spots on a depressing album. 07. Junkhead - heavy Sabbath-like riffs and a great chorus. One of the few albums where Layne seems to talk about the joys of drugs. The solo is the highlight of the song. It seems as though the character in the story is starting to realize he has a problem then with a blink of an eyes says "f--k it" and keeps on doing it. One of a kind. 08. Dirt - the title track is one of the most diverse songs not only on the album but in the entire Alice In Chains library. Sick riffs made complete with deranged bad ass lyrics and soulful singing. One of AIC's most underrated tracks. The guitar solo is so powerful and emotional and I'm actually trying to learn it but yea whatever, back to the song. The lyrics can be attributed to drugs or a relationship. Both themes suit the lyrics well. If you havn't heard this song, listen to it because it very well may be the best track on the album. Blood, Sweet and Tears went into recording this album maybe mostly on this track. don't wanna be cliche but. 09. God Smack - let me start off this review by saying who gives a shit if the band Godsmack got their name from this song. Plenty of bands have done that and Godsmack is a awesome band my second favorite after AIC. The music is just derranged and out of control. Layne's vocals and lyrics on this track are some of the most unique ever on this track. It's a love it or hate it track and I love it. The chorus is very melodic and catchy. You'll find yourself singing along to he chorus whether you like it or not. The solo is just insane. 10. Iron Gland - this instrumental featuring Tom Araya from Slayer is a precursor to the last 3 tracks, probably the most raw and emotional songs one the whole album. This little riff thingy at the end makes me cringe every time I hear it. I love it. 11. Hate To Feel - completely written by Layne Staley. Sounds like A Led Zeppelin track just more evil. Layne lyrics descrbe his dysfunctional relationship with his junkie father (if you can call this a relationship). Layne says that he doesn't want to be a junkie like his father but "like father, like son". Very sad. Pain and anger are the emotions that fuel the power and intensity. The ountro will leave you breathless. Then onto the next, even more abrasive track, Angry Chair. 12. Angry Chair - possibly the heaviest track on the whole album. The drums are unique and textured, the bass is almost goth-like, the guitar is insane and the vocals are sick and twisted. This is my second favorite AIC track behind only Nutshell from Jar Of Flies. The lyrics are some of the most intense that Layne has ever written. Not one bad lyric. The solo seems so out of place but you can't help but love it. The song is also one of the more (am I really gonna say it) progressive songs on the album. It ranges from dark to heavy to meldoic in a blink of an eye. Definently a masterpiece. 13. Would? - perfect ending to the album with the question "If I would, could you?" The lyrics were written by Jerry about Andrew Wood who died from a speedball I believe could be wrong though. Jerry handles the verses, then Layne comes in and completely blows you away in the chorus. Then after a third chorus, the song completely changes pace to an up-tempo rocker and ends abruptly will the question from above. Perfect ending and leaves you wondering, "What's Next?"
Overall Impression — 10
This album is prefect in any way. I bought this album (no I didn't download it) 2 years ago and it didn't leave my CD player for 2 months. This is one of the few albums, along with Faceless by Godsmack, Dysfunction by Staind, Alpha by Sevendust and Believe by Disturbed, that I know all the words to. This album is one of the biggest reasons why I decided to pick up the guitar and to become a singer. My favorites are Them Bones, Down In A Hole, Dirt, Angry Chair and Wouold? but every song is perfect. The raw emotion on this record can not be compared to any other album ever. I can say honestly that this is my favorite album ever and nothing will change that because it inspired me to become a musician. I don't let anyone borrow this album and if I lost it I would beat myself blind and look frantically for that motherf--ker. If it was stolen I probably wouldn't beat ass (mostly because I live in the country and noone really listens to this kind of music let alone know who Alice In chains is) but I'd buy a new one just because I would love to have an actual copy of it. So if you like Godsamck, Staind, Puddle Of Mudd, Drowning Pool or pretty much any other alternative metal/ post-grunge band out today, you'll like this album.