Alice in Chains
Facelift


4.0
excellent

Review

by Priestmetal USER (20 Reviews)
February 13th, 2006 | 277 replies | 39,516 views


Release Date: 1990 | Tracklist


11 of 11 thought this review was well written

In 1990, Alice in Chains released their first LP entitled Facelift. The second track of the album called Man in the Box was their first hit and is THE song that made them famous. Although AIC are reputed as being members of the whole Seattle grunge scene, their debut is more of a hardrock/ metal album. In fact, when I bought this a little more than two years ago, I had never heard of the band and after listening to this I thought that they were a metal band. Grunge was the last thing I would of thought of. The riffs are heavy, the mood is dark, and the slower songs seem hauntingly despairing. If this album were a color, it would indubitably be black. Now comes the questions, “Sure one can say that about many albums. But is the album good? Is the darkness convincing? Or is this album merely the output of young men trying to be poetic and emotional sounding to seem like a deep and serious band?" I would say, “Yes, this is one hell of an album, and empty darkness clouds my mind when I listen to it."

As of now, I am somewhat of a fan of Alice in Chains and have or have heard all their albums and EPs. This album is definitely very different from any of their later work. Although, most of their songs have a melancholy feel to them, the songs on this album seriously make you feel like you are submerged in darkness. I would describe the general feel as a mix of anger, deep reflection, and sadness. Indeed, I believe this is their darkest album. Yet, this darkness all comes from the music. The lyrics, although not the most joyful ever, don’t seem to be as sad as the one’s on Dirt or on their self titled one. There is no title track but the song that most represents the album as a whole (by its name and not necessarily by its content) is Sea of Sorrow. Moreover, I think the color of the album color represents it very well. It is black in the background, with fiery red in the corners and in the center, there is a dude getting his face messed up. (Just look at the picture at the beginning of the review). But the overall sound isn’t just dark, plain and simple. The darkness has a wonderful and inviting charm that makes you want to hear more. Therefore, I find this album quite easy to listen to all the way through in one sitting.

Alice in Chains has their share of heavy riffs (The intro to Them Bones, the Intro to Grind, the main riff in Sludge Factory…) but the riffs on this album seem more metal. This might be because Grunge hadn’t really exploded in popularity yet and metal was still relatively “it". In fact, some songs, like Put you Down or Man in The box, sound straight out of the 1980s. Yet, Jerry Cantrell doesn’t do any shreddy 1980s style solos which gives the songs a fresh new edge (Not that shreddy 1980s solos aren’t cool). His solo’s are melodic, sometimes more or less fast, but they are short. The songs are visibly focused on the ability of the band as a whole and not merely on the guitarist. Indeed, it is uncommon that a metal/ hardrock/ grunge band isn’t either guitar oriented or vocal oriented.

The vocal work on this album, like on many AIC albums, is quite interesting. In some songs, Layne sings in a unique raspy manner that I can’t quite explain (like in I can’t Remember) and in others (like Confusion) he tries to sound more melodic. In addition, Jerry Cantrell sings backing vocals in almost every song. He has a much smoother voice than Layne so when he does the backing vocals the result is a hauntingly melodic echo to Layne’s signature voice. Jerry’s vocals definitely add depth to the vocal work; they make it seem more complete.

The rhythm section is very present at all times. You can hear almost all of Mike Starr’s bass fills, and hear that Sean Kinney’s drum work is top notch. Also, it doesn’t overpower the other instruments. Everything is perfectly balanced. In addition, it is not only present but it is quite good too. Mike plays very nice sounding bass lines that go beyond mere root riding and Sean plays some nice fills in almost every song. The rhythm section highlight would probably be the almost out of place, funky sounding track called I know Something (‘Bout you).

All in all, Facelift is twelve convincingly dark sounding tracks that are heavy and melodic. All the instruments are top notch and everything sounds great. Yet, the one down side is that except for maybe two songs (the funky I know Something (bout you) and the slightly upbeat Sunshine), the mood doesn’t really change. Those who like diversity on albums will not be satisfied here. Its not that every song sounds the same, its just that every song has the same dark atmosphere. I recommend this for anyone who likes metal or anyone who likes rock or grunge because although it is less grungy than later Alice in Chains albums, it still has some elements that will later be considered characteristic of grunge.

Recommended heavier tracks: We Die Young, Man in the Box, It Ain’t like that, Put you Down.

Recommended softer, more mysterious tracks: Sea of Sorrow, I Can’t Remember, Confusion.

Bottom line: 4/5 Excellent album with a very sable atmosphere.



Recent reviews by this author
Judas Priest British SteelRainbow Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow
Faith No More The Real ThingOzzy Osbourne Diary of a Madman
Mercyful Fate MelissaVenom Black Metal
user ratings (1710)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
Neoteric
February 13th 2006



3243 Comments


I still can't get into this, maybe it'll grow on me like every other AiC album.

Nice review.

ktstein
February 13th 2006



438 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really good review. I'd say the color is more of a burnt siena though...

3.5/5

Tarantino's Tarantulas
February 13th 2006



819 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It Aint Like that & I Cant Remember=2 of the most underrated AIC tracks, both great songs.
The first half of this album is a 5, but the second half drags it down a bit. Still, one of my first metal albums and always a favourite, 4/5 is a fair rating.

any14doomsday
February 13th 2006



679 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good album, great band.

tom79
February 13th 2006



3365 Comments


Great debut album, Man in the box and Put you down are great
Nice ReviewThis Message Edited On 02.13.06

Digging: Rainer Maria - Look Now Look Again

Zebra
Moderator
February 13th 2006



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Quality review. Detailed and to the point.
I used to have this album but then wound up taking it to a friends house and leaving it there. If I remember correctly this album had some excellent songs, and than some dreadful ones.

Priestmetal
February 14th 2006



542 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you all for your comments. Unfortunately I am not able to do as many reviews as I used to but I will try to do another one soon. I am amazed at how some of you guys can do several in a span of one week.

ocelot-05
February 14th 2006



807 Comments


I can't believe I didn't notice this review. Very well done mate.

sadistic
February 20th 2006



4 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

great band but this album is by far their worst, yea it has We Die Young and Man in the Box both of which are awsome but the rest is average at best, get Dirt instead

Tarantino's Tarantulas
February 20th 2006



819 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^^^^^^
Dirt is better, yes, but this album has more variety, so is sorta more interesting. Songs like Love, Hate, Love(Layne annoys me on this song), Put You Down (Too glam rock) and Real Thing(drags) bring it down a bit though

Priestmetal
February 26th 2006



542 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think Dirt is just as good as Facelift. Its just different. Its more grunge and has a sadder and slower feel.

Storm In A Teacup
March 8th 2006



12702 Comments


Sweet review, but I've never been able to get into this band much.

[quote=Priestmetal]I am amazed at how some of you guys can do several in a span of one week. [/quote]:DThis Message Edited On 03.08.06

Merkaba33
February 19th 2008



702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

cool review. i like how you even brought up the cover art. i agree that there is some obvious 80's metal influence (sunshine). more specifically some guns n' roses influence (put you down). can't say i like that but overall this is a great album. it's really grown on me. bleed the freak is a bad ass song.This Message Edited On 02.19.08

Spamue1G
August 11th 2008



1292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Real Thing is fantastic! Man In The Box, obviously, is as well, as are most of the tracks. It was a good review, but I thought the colour was more of a blacky-brown. On the black side of brown, unlike Dirt, which is more on the brown side, but more muddy. I could talk about colours for ages, but my real point is, well done! Good review!

SteelErectedb4you8er
December 20th 2009



2616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They still have 80s hair metal style combined with the heavy rock direction they were going into, but man, some of the songs on this record are so heavy. "We Die Young," "I Can't Remember," and "Love, Hate, Love" being my favorites.

Romulus
December 20th 2009



8423 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Love Hate Love is probably Layne's best vocal performance

SteelErectedb4you8er
December 20th 2009



2616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

agreed.

EVedder27
December 20th 2009



6088 Comments


how do I not have this yet?

SteelErectedb4you8er
December 20th 2009



2616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't know, but you better go buy this album now.

EVedder27
December 20th 2009



6088 Comments


Yeah its quite embarrasing considering my musical taste



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy