Alice in Chains

album cover

Pure Junkie Menace

Seattle's Alice in Chains has a reputation as a drug-plagued heavy band, purveyors of dark and stormy sludge-rock thickened by abrasive guitar dissonance. That's only part of the story. This quartet, built around the extraordinary guitarist Jerry Cantrell and singer Layne Staley (1967–2002), was interested—during the making of Dirt, anyway—in sharp musical contrasts: Its most bludgeoning songs contain outbreaks of utterly lovely harmony singing. Its rhythm guitar attack is studded with jerky, odd-meter prog-rock riffs.

Those juxtapositions are the soul of Dirt, the second full-length Alice in Chains effort, a sweet counterpoint to the band's relentlessly bleak imagery. You follow Staley and his crew into the dankest dungeon of junkie-existentialist despair, because there's always at least a glimmer of light waiting at the end of the tunnel.

Dirt arrived in the fall of 1992, after the music scene in Seattle began to explode. Though much more of a hard rock band than a grunge or "alternative" band, Alice in Chains benefited from the media frenzy surrounding Nirvana; Dirt sold three million copies, a success that some believe hastened the band's demise. Staley's drug problems deepened, preventing the band from touring regularly, and hindered recording efforts as well. Subsequent records lack the extensive palette of Dirt—the lone notable effort that follows this is Jar of Flies, the first EP ever to enter at the top of Billboard's album chart.

Genre: Rock
Released: 1992, Columbia
Key Tracks: "Angry Chair," "Down in a Hole," "Would?," "Rooster"
Catalog Choice: Jar of Flies
Next Stop: Temple of the Dog: Temple of the Dog
After That: Days of the New: Days of the New
Book Pages: 14–15

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#1 from Stew, Russia - 07/26/2009 1:31

my favorite rock-band =)

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