Sound — 10
The 1995 release from Grunge Supergroup Mad Season, "Above" is the only band's release apart from a few singles and soundtrack contributions. When guitarist Mike McCready met up with bassist John Baker Saunders in rehab, the two reruited some Seattle based muscians that gave Mad Season influences from bands such as Pearl Jam, Screaming Trees, Alice In Chains and Skin Yard. The band's full lineup consisted of Layne Staley on vocals, Mike McCready on guitar, John Baker Saunders on bass, Barrett Martin on drums, Mark Lanegan providing additional vocals and saxophone by Skerik. Mad Season's sound is highly grunge but has a blues/jazz and '70s jam feel to it. The album has a lot of high points, but the majority is slow and methodical.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are dark and full of Staley's own personal demons, like many Alice in Chains albums; however apart from the band name, the drug references are more cryptic then an Alice in Chains album. Staley provides a powerful performance on "Above", making his vocals memorable. Staley often uses his trademark overdubs of the same singing parts, which allows him to harmonize with himself. The songs featuring Mark Lanegan also add another layer of vocals. Lanegan's deep voice fits perfectly with Staley and the songs with both musicians are often the best vocally.
Overall Impression — 9
This album is truely unique within the setting of 1995 and is a gem for any album collection. With the exception of the song "Long Gone Day", the latter portion of the album does drag a bit, but does not hinder the experience. "X-Ray Mind" and "Lifeless Dead" showcase the band's overall talent, while "Wake Up" reveals that Staley still had his talented voice late in his singing career. This is one of my favorite albums and irreplaceable in my collection.