Alice In Chains

Alice In Chains

Tracks: 12, total time: 64:55, year: 1995, genre: Alternative

© 1995 Columbia RecordsOriginally Released November 7, 1995AMG EXPERT REVIEW: Dispelling rumors of their demise due to Layne Staley's heroin addiction, Alice in Chains is a sonically detailed effort that ranks as their best-produced record,and its best moments are easily some of their most mature music. Alice in Chains relies less on metallic riffs and more on melody and texturally varied arrangements than the group's previous full-length albums, finally integrating some of the more delicate acoustic moods of their EPs. The lyrics deal with familiar AIC subject matter -- despair, misery, loneliness, and disappointment -- but in a more understated fashion, and the lyrics take on more uplifting qualities oftoughness and endurance,which were missing from much of their previous work. The consistent visceral impact Alice in Chains lacksin comparison to that previous work is partially made up for bythe skilled production and songs like "Grind," "Brush Away," "Over Now," and thehit ballad "Heaven Beside You," which are among the band's best work. Still, in spite of its many virtues, it's hard not to feel a little frustrated with the record, as though, given those qualities, it should have turned out better than it did-- there are some slow spots where the songs are undercrafted andnot especially memorable, and those moments can make the band sound uncommitted and distracted. That, in turn, can make the defiance of songs like "Grind" ("you'd be well advised/not to plan myfuneral 'fore the body dies") sound more like denial; just when Alice in Chains' music was finally beginning to emerge from the dark side, the intra-band problems became too much to bear and madeAlice in Chains the last collection of new material the band would ever release. -- Steve Details Producer: Alice In Chains, Toby Wright Distributor: Sony Music Distribution ( Recording Type: Studio Recording Mode: Stereo SPAR Code: n/a Album NotesAlice In Chains: Layne Staley, Jerry Cantrell (vocals, guitar); Mike Inez (bass); Sean Kinney (drums).Recorded at Bad Animals,Seattle, WA.Audio Mixer: Toby Wright.Photographer: Rocky Schenck."Grind" was nominated for a 1996 Grammy Award for Best HardRock Performance."Again" was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for BestHard Rock Performance.Much like the overcast and murky weather that Seattle is known for, Alice In Chains' music is dour, plumbing the darker side of life that's clutteredwith dashed hopes and inner turmoil. The group's self-titled third album continues alongthis path, peppered by Layne Staley's nihilistic lyrics and guitarist Jerry Cantrell's weighty playing. The three-legged dog on the cover guarantees that no warmand fuzzy feelings will get aroused.When Staley states "How proud are you being able/To gather faith from fable?" on "God Am," he reflects the feelings of the displaced generation AIC sing to. Elsewhere, imagery of drug addiction floats through "Sludge Factory," as Cantrell's plodding riffs and the sound of a disjointed conversation paint an aural pictureof nodding out. The darkened hues coloring the sound of ALICE INCHAINS make it a perfect rainy-day record.Industry Reviews4 Stars(out of 10) - ...On the band's fourth album, the lyrics deal with drugs, danger and death--and the songs achieve a startling, staggering and palpable impact...Rolling Stone (11/30/1995)...AliceIn Chain's sullen music is like stomach acid climbing up your throat. But once 'Grind' satisfies your senses in its queasy way, another listen feels all but inevitable...Musician (02/01/1996)3 Stars (out of 5) - ...another distinctive album...grinding guitarsrub up against dense, late-'60s style vocal harmonies...Q (01/01/1996)...Alice In Chain's sullen music is like stomach acid climbing up your throat. But once 'Grind' satisfies your senses in itsqueasy way, another listen feels all but inevitable...Musician (02/01/1996)--RELATED INFO ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------from NYTimes.comAlice in Chains Finds Persecutors All Around By JON PARELESPublished: December 3, 1995IF ALICE IN CHAINS IS TIRED OF beingcalled a grunge band, it can be a grudge band instead. On its third album, "Alice in Chains" (there have also been three EP's), the band from Seattle settles into its electric mode: slow-grinding, diminished or minor-chord guitar riffs and calmly accusatory vocals, with an occasional shift into a major key to belie lyrics like "Heaven beside you . . . hell within." On the band's previousreleases, Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell, the band's guitaristsand main songwriters, havespecialized in sociopathic misery, writing about despair, isolation and drug addiction. "Alice in Chains" (Columbia) moves from torment to vindictiveness. "You have always told me you would not live past 25," Staley sings in "SludgeFactory." "I say,stay long enough to repay all who caused strife." Like Michael Jackson on "HIStory," but with fewer petty detailsand broader paranoia, Alice in Chains envisions most of the outside world as gossiping, two-faced persecutors. The band hadn't exactly spiffed up its image with songs like "Junkhead" on its 1992album, "Dirt," which gave its most memorable tune to the chorus"What's your drug of choice/ What have you got?" Now, the band insists that such songs weren't autobiographical. "Grind" advises against believing "what you may have heard and what you think youknow," while other songs perceive a conspiracy of evil rumors: "Head Creeps" denounces "lackeys' loose talk for fact." At times, the narrator accepts part of the blame: "I must say I was stupid,"Cantrell and Staley sing in "Shame in You." And some songs, like"God Am" and "Nothin' Song," simply return to the the band's usual death-haunted anomie. But most of the bitterness is directed at others, who may be lovers, friends, acquaintances or media figures. In "Grind," Cantrell writes that he'd like to hear "the sound of your body breaking/ as I take you down." Alice in Chains never went in for the distortion that gave grunge its name. Its songs are cleanly delineated and meticulously layered, rarely straying from a tone of sullen stubbornness. The band is instantly recognizable and narrowly focused; it has matched an emotional niche to a musical one.-- RELATED INFO ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------from RollingStone.comThe older generation always complains that hard rockers are an angry, unstable bunch prone to violent, antisocial and frequently self-destructive behavior. In thecase of most good loud bands, they're right. There's an inherent volatility that is key to the appeal of heavy rock. Without this degenerate element, the music loses its impact, becoming little more than the deafening noise our elders suppose it to be. Sometimes the vicarious aspect is there, and the performers look like suicides waitingto happen -- as is the case with Alice in Chains. On the band'sfourth album, the lyrics deal with drugs, danger and death -- andthe songs achieve a startling,staggering and palpable impact.Since 1987 the members of Alice in Chains -- Layne Staley (vocals),Jerry Cantrell (guitar), Mike Inez (bass) and Sean Kinney (drums)-- have been channeling their aggressive impulses within a forumof dense rhythms and soaring, resentment-riddled vocals. Theirsare songs of the flesh injected with Gothic metal riffs and seamyharmonies that quiver and squirm in an insatiable quest for self-immolation. Yet Alice in Chains aren't truly suicidal. They're like aslashed wrist -- stark, bloody and dramatic but more indicative of a cry for help than of a true desire to spiral into the void. Even their most despairing tunes resound with the lust to live, as Staley proclaims in the opening line of the band's third album: "In the darkest hole you'd be well advised/Not to plan my funeral before the body dies."Like their second album, Dirt, whichfeatured six songs about Staley's battle with heroin, Alice in Chains deals largely with the helplessness and pain of addiction --and not just to drugs. Sure there's "Sludge Factory," in which Staley growls: "Things go well, your eyes dilate, you shake, and I'm high.... Now the body of one soul I adore wants to die." Or the equally desperate "Head Creeps," in which Staley moans: "No more time/Just one more time.... Suck me through a barbed screen." His other songs flow more clearly, gathering around obsessions with fame, relationships and mortality. "Brush Away" asks whether Alice's art is viewed as "ajoke? Or latest craze?" In "Over Now," Cantrell muses about surviving a shattered relationship. And "GodAm" questions how an omniscient entity could remain passive in the face of cruelty and callousness.Even though drugs aren't the main lyricalfocus, sonically the album resounds with a bleakly disorienting vibe. It sounds like the sinister result of a chemical experiment involving both narcotics and psychedelics. Alice's songs are still dipped in a quagmire of surging guitars and throbbingbass, only this time they're laced with layered, fluorescent licks and soaring vocal harmonies that make a potentially ugly rendering as beautifully horrific and complex as a Hieronymus Bosch painting."Grind" shimmers and shudders beneath a webof trippy wah-wah guitar and half-distorted vocal harmonies, and features one ofthe album's many hook-filled choruses. "Sludge Factory" is a nightmarish vista that begins with a sluggish riff, peaks with a sprawling solo layered over demonic chatterand ends with an atmospheric mélange of wailing guitars. The less-turbulent numbers, such as "Heaven Beside You," "Shame in You," "Frogs" and "Over Now," are dominated by folky acoustic segments -- reminiscent of the group's last EP, Jar of Flies. These cuts transcend ballad fodder, merging the classic-rock styles of Cream; Crosby, Stills and Nash;and the Allman Brothers with a hazier, more otherworldly aesthetic, one likely triggered by sleepless níghts and controlled substances.As bleakand disorienting as Alice in Chains' music has become, the band is not without a sense of humor, black as it may be.The ultracatchy "God Am" -- which features the playfully sacrilegious double-entendre "Can I be as my God am" -- opens with the gurgling sound of a bong hit followed by reverberating feedback anda Jeff Spicoli-esque stoner asking, "God may be all-powerful, but does he have lips?" And "Nothing Song" is a mindless number that Staley wrote about trying to finish recording and hitting a creative block: "The nothing song sticks to your mouth like peanut butter on the brain." So does this chorus.Compared to Alice in Chain's past albums, which seemed somewhat ensnared in the grunge-metal formula the band invented, this record seems liberating and enlightening. If Jar of Flies was the key that unlocked the group's creative potential, then this new disc is the musical rebirth.What really makes Alice in Chains a poignant artistic statement is the band's unflinching candor. Alice may have once been accusedof musical insincerity, but no one could ever say that a line like "I'm not fine, fuck pretending" ("God Am") doesn't come from the pit of Staley's blackened heart. With their new record, Alicein Chains have come to the following conclusion: While survival is preferable to oblivion, pain and existence are inseparable. (Posted: Nov 30, 1995) -- JON WIEDERHORN

2.3:23Brush Away
3.7:13Sludge Factory
4.5:28Heaven Beside You
5.6:29Head Creeps
7.5:36Shame in You
8.4:08God Am
9.2:46So Close
10.5:41Nothin' Song
12.7:02Over Now

Discid: rock / b60f350c

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