Jerry Cantrell
Degradation Trip


5.0
classic

Review

by Mark Stebbing USER (36 Reviews)
October 26th, 2005 | 41 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist


Degradation Trip is the second solo album by the Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell, released on June 18, 2002. It is considered to be a tribute album or dedicated to the group's fallen singer Layne Staley, who died two months before the release of the album.

The sound is instantly reminiscent of Cantrell's former band because, of course, he was instrumental in creating the slow, brooding minor-key grinds topped with flat vocal harmonies that were the group's stock in trade. The album consists of how powerful, dramatic, and resonant these hypnotic guitar dirges can be. The mood reflections on this album are usually dramatic and visceral and always intense. Hence the title "Degradation Trip", this shows that we are going down on a journey of decomposion of society. This is a mighty heavy album and never seizes to make you tense whilst listening so I wouldn't recommend this album to someone who doesn't like intense metal or heavier grunge than Alice In Chains. The band here consists of Jerry, Robert Trujillo (former Ozzy Osbourne and now Metallica's bassist), and Mike Bordin (former Faith No More and now Ozzy Osbourne's drummer).

The cover art in this album (booklet) is extrodinary but also very disturbing showing cut off hands and arms with showing flesh inside from above on the cover but inside you see a lady naked having tattoos around her body showing the "dregradation" of her body with the words of the songs written on her, this to me is such a clever idea and really shows the style that this album is gonna be.


The band playing in this album are:

Jerry Cantrell: Guitar & Vocals
Robert Trujillo: Bass Guitar
Mike Bordin: Drums


--- The Review of Degradation Trip by Jerry Cantrell ---


"Psychotic Break" is the song to kick off this "trip". Straight away we hear some very groundbreaking guitaring and some powerful bass at the intro. The "off-tune" guitar really shows the unstability of the person involved hence "psychotic break". The song is very tense all the way through but the tempo of the song is moderately slow so we are driven into a warping dimension of someone's unstable mind. The logics of this song works outstandingly well with what I said about the technique of the music referring to the person showing that he is going to break out and it all ties in really well. Jerry's voice really sounds like Layne Staley's voice, it is so similar, and the performance is great. This song is an intense opener and is an excellent one.

"Bargain Basement Howard Hughes" carries on this intense ride to another level now bringing us into someone's enigma. The guitaring are again very crunchy with a forceful power and Robert's thumping bass backing up, also the drum's complex style brings out again that unstability. The lyrics are very dehumanising on the chorus:

"Enigma wrapped in riddle,
Your life I belittle,
Dignity I'd steal,
Now I know how it feels."

The guitar solo is very mesmirizing using loads of phaser and feedback, it really brings out the intensity of the song and it really impacts. Jerry's vocals are very brooding towards the lyrics and the music really backs it up really well. This song is consistanly dark and is again intense, this is another amazing performance from Jerry and the band.

"Anger Rising" was a released song on this album and never got much radio play when it really deserved it. It starts very loosely with some beautiful acoustic guitaring and then it rises to some multiple vocals then to some real Metal riffs that sound so superb. The lyrics are again, disturbing but just so great:

"Alabama trailer park they call home,
Boy standing at attention in the corner of his own,
Terrified, scorpion crawling the wall,
By the way father could you please beat me some more?"

The chorus is so anthemic with some true rock style and Jerry's vocals on this song is just first-class, also pointing out his guitaring is equally amazing here. The song has a theme of a democracy of unsocial violence. Amazing song that lasts over 6 minutes and never ceases to repeat itself to bore you, the ending is a nice break down to just the vocals at the end and it really breaks down the intensity of the song.

"Angel Eyes" is again starting with an acoustic style but it doesn't break out that much compared to "Anger Rising", it instead goes to some semi-powered distortion and it accompanies the vocals at times. The music is very powerful but still keeping that intensity back from the song to create a more uplifting sound and it has worked well here. The vocals shows emotion on this song as it really shows emphasis on the lyrics when things become serious and the chorus becomes anthemic and shows the bright side of the album. The background guitar on the bridge is a very nice touch when things break down showing that there is beauty in the song and it really is effective. This song still ties in the great start of the album.

"Solitude" is another acoustic start so there is no intense playing here on this song. This is a more mellow song compaered to the others on the album. The creepy atmosphere is still here with Jerry's shaky vocals really gives that impact and the strange guitar effects in the background really shows the creepiness of the song but it is still secret. The chorus is very wierd as the vocals seem to stay on one note or revolve around it and it actually works well with the unstability of the song. The overall performance of the music is superb and the vocals are strange but it is effective.

"Mother's Spinning in Her Grave (Glass Dick Jones)" is back to the intensifing sound of the album but with more a motivation sound to it, the vocals are extremely wierd here on the verses, they sound very ghostly and AIC's style. The song has again that unstability of the guitar with some off-tune notes and a wierd effect to it. The song has a consistant strangeness to it, on the chorus has some really eerie vocals and the verses sound very mesmirizing. The solo used actually is the first "true" solo that presents a Rock presence instead going with the flow of the dark atmosphere. Overall, it is one strange song that represents a similar style as AIC and it is a great performance.

"Hellbound" has a very freakish start with some off-note chords around the lower 3 frets, and some cymbal crashing and the bass really boosting out against it. This is such a hellish and fiery start to the song hence the name "Hellbound". After 1 minute of the intro, we are brought to the main body with some thumping drumming and some power driven guitar playing. The vocals sound very dark on the verses and it represents the lyrics:

"Going down a last act scene,
Curtain call begin bowing,
Self-appointing abuse king,
Hellbound, that's my belief."

All the way through the song, it is very sombre and hellish with some intense guitaring and vocals. The guitar solo is excellent using the wah-wah pedal which really shows that fiery style and some pinch-harmonics to throw in. This is the longest song on the album but there are many songs that revolve around this time so this album is actually a very long one, so is you think this is long, put up with the others. Overall, the song is great with it's logic thinking and the vocals are excellent here.

"Give It A Name" brings us back to an acoustic start and this song sounds like it has the same style as AIC's "Jar of Flies EP" with that style of having a classic rock lead guitar and some acoustic guitaring that warp around the mesmirizing vocals on the chorus that sound graceful. The song actually sounds very classical rock then grunge really due to the style played here, the whole accompanied music performance is again excellent with the vocals. I really dig the solo here with some amazing usage of the wah-wah and the style played is just as good as Santana himself. This is another excellent song with some great guitar playing and the song consists of no intense style, it is an uplifting song.

"Castaway" is such a isolating song with some amazing music that Jerry wrote all by himself, and he deserves credit for this song. It starts with some unbelievable bass playing that sounds so great and the creaking in the background just puts up the heart-thumping style up a notch. This song is full of emotion at the start with the vocals being just so good and the lyrics being meaningful:

"Day break, wind is blowing strong,
No escape, caught on a reef in a storm,
Castaway, licking his cracked lips sore,
Patient, waits, hoping the rats reach the shore."

The song picks up to an explosion after the first verse to the intense guitars and Jerry's voice being more unstable, it is really an amazing song up to this point. The screetching guitars in the background just brings out the scary side of this song and just makes this song feel very isolated. This is just an amzing experience to listen to on headphones and this is one of the essential songs to listen to.

"She Was My Girl" is from the "Spiderman Soundtrack" and this song is such a different style compared to "Castaway", this means we are back to the grunge style of fast rock. This song has such a great riff at the start with the ever so powering bass accompaning it. The song is very motivating as it has such a beat to it with some intensifing guitaring in the pre-verses. Jerry's voice is just great here with some crunching technique and it really ties in the song well. The solo here is quite unstable with some whammy bar usage and some wah-wah to create a frenzied style. This song is one of the mainstreams on the album being a brief rock song compared to the others on this album but this song is so great.

"Chemical Tribe" is back to the creepy side of the album with some drum driven intro and the guitaring being very demanding. The bass on this song gives out this sly feeling that something bad will happen. Jerry's vocals are very serious here with him expressing his confusion on this song, the chorus is excellent is excellent with some nice echoey vocals and guitars being very powerful. The drums on this song shine with some jungle beats and some amazing snare work to make that impact. The lyrics are truthful being about terroists in a way calling them "Chemical Tribes" metaphorically, saying why should we watch them build and bomb us. This song is another one of these listening experiences that have a unique sound and it is consistantly good throughout.

"Spiderbite" is the heaviest song on the album having a thumping bass line and the guitar's distortion is just massively heavy. The start of the song is great as you hear Jerry shout "Caine!", it's a great touch. The music is so heavy, it makes you tense and feel very isolated at the verses. The chorus changes style to a more slow warping style to show that the poison is running through the blood slowly, great use of logic here. The lyrics are very intense:

"What day is today? Don't I Know You?
19 and bold, bitten in Houston,
Out to the car, picked up a spider,
Anesthetize your face, loser beside ya.

The whole song changes on the bridge to a more quiet, mellow style for a brief moment and then we are put back to the tense style with another amazing solo. Then we pick up from the verse onwards to the outro which is such a great outro as the vocals become higher until it just disappears. This is an epic 6:30 song that rocks you like hell! Amazing stuff from Jerry here.

"Locked On" is back to the classic AIC style here to a more lighter distortion we heard from "Spiderbite". This is a much more uplifting song from previous and Jerry's vocals are controlled and sound very slick. The guitaring is very catchy and sound perfect for the song's logic. This song sounds like you are driving on an open road in the desert, it set's that scene but what this song is truly about is a fallen rock star that apparently had no resembleance to Layne Staley's death. The solo is again brilliant with some normal distortion layered with some wah-wah over it. The song's performance is great and shows that Jerry's songwriting ability is very versatile.

"Gone" is the last song on this album and it leaves us with a tear-jerker. The song has some beautiful guitar work on electric and acoustic, the bass really brings out the depressing factor and the drums represent the nice easy flow of the song, whilst Jerry's vocals is very emotional. His voice on this song is the best performance as it sounds like it is honest and he is putting a lot of effort into here. This slow song is the best "ballad" on this album as there are only two which the other is "Solitude", this song is just plain beautiful and it sounds like a song from "Jar Of Flies". The solo is very blissful in shining out the beauty of the song and that really puts the touch on it. I say that you cannot ask for a better ending for a truly epic trip down "degradation", slowly decomposing song that has so much emotion.


--- The Overview ---

Ratings:

1. Psychotic Break - 4.5/5
2. Bargain Basement Howard Hughes - 4.75/5
3. Anger Rising - 5/5
4. Angel Eyes - 4.5/5
5. Solitude - 4/5
6. Mother's Spinning in Her Grave (Glass Dick Jones) - 4.25/5
7. Hellbound - 4/5
8. Give It a Name - 4.5/5
9. Castaway - 5/5
10. She Was My Girl - 4.5/5
11. Chemical Tribe - 4.75/5
12. Spiderbite - 5/5
13. Locked On - 4.25/5
14. Gone - 5/5


This album is truly up there with the likes of AIC's "Dirt", it is actually better than that in my opinion. This is Jerry's best ever release since "Dirt" and it is clearly shown why, there are songs that make you feel isolated, scared and also cry! The whole music in this album is one of the best I have heard in Metal and in Grunge. Jerry Cantrell is one of the most underrated guitarists of all time and really should be given much more credit after this classic and epic album. Also Robert and Mike's performance on this album is also exceptional on this album as well, they should have been the permanent line-up as all 3 sound just perfect together. This album shows power, class and amazement and there is still life in Grunge.

Final Rating: 5/5



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user ratings (111)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Neoteric (4)
...

Theleftside2 (4)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
theshapeofpunktocome
October 26th 2005


49 Comments


niiice, I think Jerry on his own is just as good as his work with AiC

Final Origin
October 26th 2005


408 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Definitely, I can't find a massive difference between them anyway. They all have the same style and singing but this is heavier and I actually enjoy this more than most of AIC albums.

theshapeofpunktocome
October 26th 2005


49 Comments


Yeah, I don't have his albums but Anger Rising says it all.

Final Origin
October 26th 2005


408 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

If you don't have this, you must!! It is such a listening experience, especially "Castaway", one of the best pieces Jerry has written!

Final Origin
October 26th 2005


408 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

There is still life in grunge, this shows it by a long way. I actually don't class this as grunge, I class it as Alternative/Metal or Post-Grunge as this album takes this to the next level.

Final Origin
October 26th 2005


408 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I reckon this album is one of the best revolving around the grunge/Metal genre, and this album is very strong.

Final Origin
October 26th 2005


408 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, Green Day has sold out as they have really gone too far with their releasing of singles and making outrageous videos. But this album shows no sell out, it shows pure talent and keeping to what he does best.

Final Origin
October 26th 2005


408 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

To me, the lyrics seem to fit the songs well but the main high points of the album are the vocals, the mood and the music. They are all amazing and meaningful.

Final Origin
October 26th 2005


408 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Anyone else heard of the most underrated guitarist ever?

Final Origin
October 26th 2005


408 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

lol. Nice slick answer there.

spoon_of_grimbo
October 26th 2005


2241 Comments


iv got AiC's greatest hits and i've heard "anger rising" and i like both, so i might have to invest in this album!

the whole thing about grunge being a genre was a bit daft though, because the bands within it all sounded very different. for example, the "big four" of grunge (nirvana, pearl jam, soundgarden, alice in chains) had their own individual sounds, so you can't really justify putting them all in one genre. grunge was just a term for the rock music that was coming out at the time from a certain area of the US.

cbmartinez
October 26th 2005


2525 Comments


Not 5/5 but a fucking agressive album. I actually was into this before I got into AiC. I heard "She Was My Girl" on the Spiderman soundtrack, bought this album and my dad goes, "you know he played for AiC right?"

Final Origin
October 27th 2005


408 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I got into AIC before this album, and I prefer Jerry's work as just seems more free and more experimental and I like that style.

And I do know what you mean now Grateful Dead, he does batter it a bit too much but still it doesn't harm the album in any way.This Message Edited On 10.27.05

Neoteric
October 27th 2005


3243 Comments


Since it's solo, it's from the mind of one person and that's what I dog from albums like these.

Final Origin
October 27th 2005


408 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's a simply amazing album to me and I one of my personal favourites of all time.

StigmataSD
October 31st 2005


43 Comments


Not to be picky, but in Anger Rising, its "By the way father could you beat me some more?" not "again." Sorry, just had to point that out.

Final Origin
November 1st 2005


408 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Oh yeah, I even had the lyrics next to me lol. I'll get that sorted straight away, sorry and thanks for pointing it out.

Tarantino's Tarantulas
December 23rd 2005


819 Comments


I'm listening to this album right now... Its great, if missing Staley's more experimental vocals (Jerry's are nice but sometimes monotone) and Jerry's lyrics are a bit samey. Still, amazing, 4.5/5

Final Origin
December 27th 2005


408 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I must admit that Jerry's voice can be very repetitive and not experimental but it doesn't really affect the album really.

Rugter32
February 22nd 2009


754 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

*4 years later*

Album owns. I love every second of it. I had forgotten how much ass it kicked.



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