Sound — 9
While this CD was to be the first in the sadly because it loomed that the end of Alice In Chains the band was nigh, and started the affronting malpractice of Sony to re-release and re-release the same Alice In Chains songs with subtly different varieties over the period of 1999 to 2001 (recall the "Greatest Hits", "Music Bank" and "Live" CDs, degradingly drawn-out process of the record company taking advantage of fans' missing of Alice In Chains during their inactivity by exploiting their catalog on different "compilation" CDs, Nothing Safe is inarguably the best of the illicit, invented-sequence Alice In Chains CDs, if only just barely. The merit of the CD, no matter if the rest of the songs are already owned by most dedicated Alice In Chains aficionados, is the grating, one, new song finally distributed after three to four years of Alice In Chains' rueful hiatus, Get Born Again, a monster of an impression-making reemergence! On the flip side, somewhat sorrowfully, Nothing Safe isn't defensible of a purchase because everyone who's interested enough in Alice In Chains to buy the CD based on Get Born Again will already possess most, if not all, older songs. However, to the most fanatically loyal Alice In Chains connoisseurs, the only kind of Alice In Chains fan around. Nothing Safe merits worth by Get Born Again alone, their newest song since 1996's Unplugged, "Killer Is Me". Beginning morosely and dreadfully with Cantrell's crypt-like, tomb-beckoning, whistling hooks, like doom looms on the horizon, Get Born Again appears to be a song best suited for someone's funeral, yet it's so much more! Get Born Again immediately segues into a metal-ly, hard-shredding number from it's first lines of the first verse. Grating and rumbling with Inez's bass, Cantrell's piercing splintering, and Kinney's hard-hitting drums, the song begins with Staley's trademark frightfulness of reciting eerie poetry for verses in a sing-song fashion, where it then launches into an explosion of riffing before rather unexpectedly and smoothly settling down into the chorus, where Staley's patently ghostly warble under a high pitch takes over, rhyming in arcane intonations (oooh, denied all and tied all the lies). Get Born Again has Staley's voice returning to it's Dirt-like quality of range, pitch and strength, although it's despairingly looming theme fits just as perfectly on Tripod's sludge! Staley's voice is versatile here; in the quieter/restrained parts, his voice affects a correspondingly ominous feel of portending eeriness, sounding at times frail and non-vital, yet in the louder parts of full-throttle shredding, affects the same rigorous screams like on Dirt. The result is a vocal performance that sounds unholy and menaces of some future apocalypse to come. Cantrell, too, is up to par, delivering one of Alice In Chains' most memorable solos, a breathtaking yet harmoniously crypt-like solo that agonizes the listener with some kind of sorrowful overtone exorcized only by the sonic intoxication from the pure dominance of Cantrell's skills. For their second last, new song, Alice In Chains at least delivers a five-and-a-half-minute masterpiece of precious rarity. Get Born Again is quite feasibly read into being about Staley's drug-junkie girlfriend who overdosed in 1996, and from that macabre basis produces a hauntingly unearthly song recalling imagery about betrayal, loss, insecurity, yearning, charades, gloom, pessimism and finally redemption, in short, the usual, thoughtful introspection of Alice In Chains material!
Lyrics — 10
Alice In Chains was one of the most influential bands ever walked the face of the earth that many bands wanted to copy, but unfortunately all of them failed. Nobody can imitate the power, pain, and passion of Layne Staley's heartfelt vocal delivery. Hell, this guy can move mountains. One of my favourite vocalists of all time. An excellent singer he is.
Overall Impression — 8
I'm compelled to subtract value from Nothing Safe because of the aforementioned, stagnant rehashing of Alice In Chains' songs, but if you're a newbie, Nothing Safe remains the best, introductory material. All the other hits, minus several more they could've easily incorporated, are familiar to longtime aficionados, like the fast-paced We Die Young, the quintessential Man in the Box, the spastic Them Bones, the regretful Down In A Hole, the powerhouse live Rooster, the searching Got Me Wrong, the atoning No Excuses, the purging I Stay Away, the aggressive What The Hell Have I, the chugging Grind, the thunderous Again, and the retrospective Would?