September 29th marks the 28th anniversary of Alice in Chain’s highest selling album to date, ‘Dirt’.
Alice in Chains originally rose to fame in the early 90s, the era of grunge rock, becoming famous following success in bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. The band was formed in 1987 by guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell, drummer Sean Kinney, bassist Mike Starr and lead vocalist Layne Staley, taking the name from Staley’s previous band, Alice N’ Chains.
Simply Put, the album is dark, in an interview with Mordechai Kleidermacher, Jerry Cantrell said “We deal with our daily demons through music. All of the poison that builds up during the day we cleanse when we play.” The album perfectly portrays this, with six of the thirteen songs having the subject of addiction.
The album is amazing, the harmonies that are produced by Cantrell and Staley Is mind-blowing at times, the instrumentals use a similar chugging which gives it a dirty sound with clean harmonic vocals and whirring solos. The drumming on the tracks is solid and helps carry the flow of the instrumentals. Even songs that are boring, compared to stronger tracks, have a semblance of artistic attention played into them, for instance, ‘Angry Chair’ has amazing vocals and instrumentals to back them up however I found it to be boring especially towards the end of the album.
The album is overall brilliant, although, it has a tendency for the tracks to have similar sounds to one another, if one where to listen to the vocals and after listening to it once I felt as though I’d gotten the full experience of what was given to me. This is not a negative thing; however, since I consider a lot of the songs on this album to be great on there own fitting in different playlists for different atmospheres. Songs like ‘Them Bones,’ which was featured in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, opens almost sounding thrash-like with its aggression. Whereas songs like ‘Rooster’ slows the tempo and chills the atmosphere before dropping in such an amazing way.
Rain when I die
This song kicks off with a mean bass riff, the song starts sounding almost like a Primus song in its craziness. The riffs in this song are catchy and vocals are gold as a song quite early in the album it made me excited for what the rest of the album had in store, the reason I selected this song on the un-skippables is because, as well as how catchy I find the song, it’s interesting. Because when Layne died, it did rain, for about 2 hours the song has this strange foreshadowing to it that adds to the song itself.
Rooster is another powerful track, made by Jerry Cantrell for his father who was nicknamed rooster as a child, an interview conducted by Henry Yates in 2006 says the title was the nickname given to Cantrell Snr. by his great-grandfather: “Apparently he was a cocky little kid, and his hair used to stick up on top of his head like a rooster’s comb.” This song is probably my personal favourite on the album. It begins mellow and tame but drops into the powerful riffs and harmonies that are presented in the other tracks.
Junkhead, to me, seems to be a song about the hypocrisy in society when it comes to drug users. The second verse mentions this idea and features a slowed and slurred section that simulates a character who seems high. The song itself is catchy and has a genuine meaning behind it that impacts the flow of the song and with this in though is a beautifully crafted song.
Overall, the entire album is amazing, every song connects instrumentally and makes sense as an album that set their career. The songs hold up as something that could be released today in terms of production and how they have managed to capture their audience since the themes introduced into this album are still prevalent to this day
Final Verdict: ”YEAH!”