Above Review

artist: Mad Season date: 06/10/2008 category: compact discs
Mad Season: Above
Released: Mar 1995
Genre: Rock
Styles: Alternative Pop/Rock, Grunge
Number Of Tracks: 10
Most of Above is quite somber, surpassing the meditations of Temple of the Dog in its dour tone. Staley's voice has always worked well in this setting, yet he frequently has had more compelling material than the webs of guitars that form the basis of Above.
 Sound: 10
 Lyrics: 10
 Overall Impression: 9.5
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reviews (2) 7 comments vote for this album:
overall: 10
Above Reviewed by: unregistered, on november 15, 2004
4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sound: Most people know Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, and Screaming Trees to be overall heavy bands. They were founding fathers of the grunge/alternative era, and came to be known as artists of their own styles and sounds that changed a generation of music. You would wonder what would happen if certain members of the band came together to form a 'supergroup' band - probably what kind of music they would make and what style they would emit. Well, Mad Season is your answer. From what I could tell, Mad Season's first and sadly last album sounds somewhat jazzy, with bits of grunge-esque sounds and unique polishings to the songs that take you away from the average sounds of AIC and Pearl Jam's signature works (referring mostly to 'Dirt' and 'Vs.') and bring you to a place on the edge of Layne Staley's mind, in a calmer yet eerily clear atmosphere showing his slowly decaying self, through fully aware eyes (listen to 'Wake Up'). In short, he knew his drug addiction was going to kill him, and made his painful struggles be heard so strongly on this album. // 10

Lyrics: The focus of this album is as I said - of Layne Staley's pains, thoughts, and struggles in a world so cruel to his own. His lyrics are some of the strongest, and so emotionally aware that they are haunting. Layne Staley can look inside himself and pull out the supernatural of his abilities and turn them into works of art, making his emotions as one with the music, in a sense of purity. All in all, his lyrics fit right in with the music and give you a sonic blast of rightousness, the way only Layne could deliver. Also, he's one of the greatest singers in rock history. // 10

Overall Impression: This is not an album most AIC fans would expect (I am also a big fan) but it does justice for what Layne was trying to get across. Alice In Chains was never about heaviness, as you can see from Jar of Flies and other sources. If you look at what music really is, you might consider this album as something not out of the ordinary, but something totally expected. This album will make any rock fan's collection complete. It's an undeniable work of art and one of Layne's greatest accomplishments. So give it a listen, it might have to grow on a die hard AIC fan, but you won't be disappointed. My favorite tracks are 'Wake Up', 'Long Gone Day', and 'River Of Deceit'. If this were stolen I'd smack the foo that took it so hard he'd look like Justin Hawkins (just kidding). But yeah I'd definitely go out and get it again without any hesitation. // 10

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overall: 9.7
Above Reviewed by: -Ryan-, on june 10, 2008
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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. // 10

Lyrics: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

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