Alice in Chains was one of the most difinitive and influencial bands of the early 90's. Riding on the coattails of the growing Seattle scene, and the popularity of Nirvana, Alice in Chains quickly began to move up the charts after releasing their second album, Dirt, in 1992, which went on to go platinum that year.
Alice In Chains next CD was a little album called Jar of Flies. In some ways, it was the antithesis of Dirt. Much softer and more melodic, it seemed like the whole tone of the music was changing.
Jar of Flies
Release Date: January 25, 1994
Considering the album was created in about a week, the quality of the songs seem astounding. It showed Alice in Chains ability to not only quickly produce killer songs, but also progressed their sound to a whole new level.
Track 1: Rotten Apple
The longest song on the CD is also one of the most unique. It starts out with just a baseline and some insane acid-guitar like riffs performed by the masterful Jerry Cantrell. Soon Staley's voice kicks in and gives the song its dreary and bleak tone. Although it is a bit repetitive, it is extremely interesting to listen to. Espescially when Cantrell busts out some great guitar effects near the end of the song.
Track 2: Nutshell
In my opinion, Nutshell is one of the most beautifully depressing songs ever created. Staley is pure genius in this track. To really get a feel for it, you need to hear it for yourself.
Track 3: I Stay Away
A strange mix of acoustic and electric, I Stay Away is a masterful song. It quickly switches tempo and style throughout the song, and is very reminisct of Alice in Chains most popular track, Rooster. Staley's voice, like it often does, steals the show in this song, but Cantrell is no slouch, with some very diverse guitar playing. Overall, one of the best tracks on the CD.
Track 4: No Excuse
A lot of people seem to like this song, but I think it is one of the worst of the CD. It's catchy, but very repetitive, and Staley's voice is fairly monotonous in this track. Nothing special really, but still pretty good. Just doesn't live up to the standards that Alice In Chains sets.
Track 5: Whale & Wasp
This is the second strangest track Alice in Chains has ever made. It has no lyrics, but is hauntingly beautiful. With a mix of acoustic and electric guitar, and what seems to be some kind of stringed instrument, the song is like nothing Alice in Chains would ever do again. It's almost a ballad type song, except that it has no words, and clocks in under three minutes. Which, after listening to the song, you will realize all ballads should be like. Unfortunatly, it is missing the best thing about Alice in Chains; Layne Staley, so it isn't quite as good as some of the better songs on the CD, but still good none the less.
Track 6: Don't Follow
The most deceptive track on the CD is also one of best. A little over halfway through the track, the song changes tone drastically. It starts off rather slow and dreary, but it changes into a fairly fast beat track with some neat musical effects (is that a harmonica?) and Staley's voice changes entirely. The song is extremely bluesy, but still somehow fits into Alice In Chains singature style. This track really shows the diversity and genius of Alice in Chains
Track 7: Swing on This
Like Don't Follow, Swing on This, is a unique song. It doesn't really sound like anything else Alice in Chains had done up to this point (although it is reminiscint of some of the later tracks off of Alice in Chains). However, it just isn't as good as Don't Follow. It is still a great song though, but lacks that extra umph that could put it over the top.
Summary: Jar of Flies is a great CD, and really a turning point in Alice in Chain's music. Although it is highly progressive and inventive, Alice in Chains seems to be trying to incorperate too many musical styles all at one time. This is probably Alice in Chain's most progressive and experimental album, but it lacks the signature style that made Dirt such a huge hit.