Alice in Chains
Dirt


4.5
superb

Review

by Andrew Barr (MM8) USER (65 Reviews)
July 7th, 2006 | 809 replies | 47,418 views


Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist


10 of 22 thought this review was well written

Alice In Chains
Dirt


The Band: Layne Staley- Vocals
Jerry Cantrell- Guitar, back up vocals
Mike Starr- Bass
Sean Kinney- Drums

Dirt is widely acknowledged as a grunge masterpiece, and for good reason. ?Alice In Chains? were probably the biggest grunge band of the nineties and this album is their best, in my opinion at least. It?s nearly flawless from beginning to end. I mean the instrumentals were tremendous. The guitar was solid and had the occasional good solo. The bass was well-written and you could here it well throughout the album. The drums weren?t too complicated, but they were still pretty good and had their moments here and there. No real problems there. So, why did I say ?nearly? flawless. Simple, because of the vocals. To be frank I couldn?t stand them. When Layne was actually singing like verses and choruses his vocals were okay, but in several songs he did this thing where he just makes noise overtop of the guitar, like in the title track ?Dirt?. It?s honestly one of the most annoying sounds I?ve ever heard and I?ve heard James Blunt sing! Truly it?s like being kicked in the nuts, but for your ears. Or if you?re a member of the female congregation like being hit in the boob. Although, other than that this album is a classic and some of you out there may actually like the vocals, but they?re just really, really not my cup of tea.

Now I?ll talk to ya?ll about how this album feels, because I think it?s important to know the feel of an album before you purchase it well. Well there are several descriptive adjectives I could use to describe this. For example: gloomy, dark, scary, haunting, depressing, damp the list goes on. So, pretty much if your one of those people who?s more into pop-punk, you know ?fun? music this probably isn?t for you. Honestly, it?s not even really my cup of tea. I?m not a big fan of overly depressing music, with the exception of a few metal bands. Although, if you?re ever in a rather glum mood and need good music to suite your mood this album is right up your alley. A lot of the songs deal with topics like addiction and isolation. It also has a range from heavier tracks to a few ballads. I found the ballads to be the most depressing. Mainly because of their softer nature. There are actually a few tracks on here that you can listen to that aren?t too depressing, like ?Them Bones?. It?s a good paced track not too depressing and even has some good soloing in it. So, overall if you just listen to a few tracks at a time this isn?t to sad of a listen, but when you listen to it all the way through, dear god it?s just mind numbingly disheartening.

Moving along, I?d like to briefly tell you all about the bands history. In 1987, Layne Staley met Jerry Cantrell at a party. Cantrell invited Staley to join his band ?Diamond Lie?, soon after they added Star and Kinney to the mix. They began writing material and playing at clubs in Seattle. The band eventually changed their name from ?Diamond Lie? to ?Alice In Chains?. In 1989 they signed with Columbia records and released a series of demos. Soon after the band released their debut album ?Facelift?. The album was an instant hit and the video for ?Man In The Box?, one of the singles from the album, became a regular on MTV. The band went on tour opening for bands like Iggy Pop and Van Halen. Playing with successful bands like those two gave the band a lot of good publicity and ?Facelift? soon went gold. The bands career would continue to progress from there, as they released several more very popular albums (like Dirt) from that point on.

And now we get into the instrumentals. The guitar as a previously mentioned was splendid. The rhythm guitar work was fantastic. The majority of the songs were in drop D, I believe. Most riffs were heavy and distorted. The majority of the riffs were also rather fast and carried a few songs. The tone on Jerry?s amp was perfect for this style of music. It really helped to give the album that grunge-y atmosphere. There were also a lot of marvelous lead riffs. Like in ?Dirt? there was a great little riff, some wah was used which was nice. Although, the vocals overtop of it sort of ruined it. There weren?t too many solos on the album, but the ones it had were outstanding. Like for example, the solo in ?Them Bones?. It was playful and dark at the same time. The high pitched notes tap danced through my head melodically, seeming to actually sooth my mood some, but it still had this depressing feel to it as well. All in all the guitar was probably the strong point of the album.

But that?s not to say that the bass wasn?t excellent either. It definitely had it?s standout moments scattered about. Like in ?Would?? there was some driving bass in the intro, that continued throughout the verse. Several songs had that aspect. Although, there were also several tracks where the bass was difficult to here. That didn?t bother me too much, though, and from the tabs I?ve seen for the bass in those particular tracks the bass was still well-written, even if it was hard to hear. The tone on the bass was also more than adequate. It went perfectly with the guitar?s tone. The bass also did an good job of keeping on time. Recently when I?ve been listening to that aspect of the music and I?ve noticed in some bands the bassist doesn?t quite have the rhythm right. Which is key because the bassist?s rhythm is what keeps the drummer in time and if the drummers not in time that screws up the guitarist.

As I previously mentioned the drums were good but not too good. Slightly above par. I liked that that Kinney didn?t rely too much on simple beats to get through songs. He used his toms a lot, which added to the albums sort of eerie sound. Also, his fills were exceptional. Very accurate and precise. I find Kinney to be a very technically sound drummer. What I mean by that is like I said before, he?s accurate. If you listen closely in some songs drummers will accidentally hit the rims of the drums and things like that, but Kinney doesn?t. At least not from what I could tell. Also, the drums were in proper timing throughout the album as well.

The vocals as I already mentioned weren?t great to say the least. Although, I will admit they suit the band quite well. That however, doesn?t change the fact that I can?t stand them, for the most part. For the actual lyrics they weren?t that bad, even slightly enjoyable at times. But it?s that damn whining thing he does that sort of turns me away from the album. The perfect example of it is at the beginning of ?Dirt?. He completely ruins the great wah riff they had going by attempting to mimic it. Of course he did a terrible job and was extremely off key. I think album may have been better with a singer more like Chris Cornell.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Pros: Instrumentally sound
Well produced

Cons: Vocals

Recommended tracks: Them Bones, Rooster, Would?

Any grunge fans out there, I would really recommend this album to you. Otherwise the majority of you out there might not like it. I know I personally wasn?t too fond of it, but that was just because of the vocals. I still gave it a four, because I think it did deserve a four. I thought about giving it a 3.5 but I thought that if it weren?t for the vocals this would?ve gotten a 4.5 and seemed like a whole point was too much to take off just for the vocals. Like I said in the early going of the review, this is good to listen to when you?re depressed, but other than that, unless you?re really into AIC it may just put you into more of a glum mood. That doesn?t change the fact that it is a very good album, though. Until next time keep your stick on the ice.

Metallicaman



Recent reviews by this author
Soundtrack Jesus Christ SuperstarBrand New Deja Entendu
Opeth DeliveranceDe La Soul Stakes Is High
Coheed and Cambria From Fear Through the Eyes of MadnessThe Mars Volta Frances the Mute
user ratings (2939)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
Tarantino's Tarantulas
July 7th 2006



819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review of a great album. Im personally fine with Layne - hes a bit annoying on the S/T in a couple of songs, but otherwise I quite like him. Jerry isnt the best out there but is still a splendid guitarist. I dont play bass or drums, but Sean and Mike are pretty solid here.

Tarantino's Tarantulas
July 7th 2006



819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review of a great album. Im personally fine with Layne - hes a bit annoying on the S/T in a couple of songs, but otherwise I quite like him. Jerry isnt the best out there but is still a splendid guitarist. I dont play bass or drums, but Sean and Mike seem pretty solid here.

Tarantino's Tarantulas
July 7th 2006



819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Apologies - my computor was fvcking around at this point.This Message Edited On 07.13.06

Neoteric
July 7th 2006



3243 Comments


Good review, this album is cool.

metallicaman8
July 7th 2006



4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Congrats, you're the first person to ever triple post one of my reviews :cheers:

Two-Headed Boy
July 7th 2006



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah, very tasty review. Love the James Blunt comment.

Wizard
July 7th 2006



19206 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review except I totally disagree with you on Layne's vocals. He had way more range than most of the other grunge singers out there. Kurt Cobain had the most annoying vocals ever! Listening to him felt like getting kicked in the nuts. Dirt is the greatest grunge album ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!This Message Edited On 07.07.06

Digging: Merzbow - Dust of Dreams

metallicaman8
July 7th 2006



4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The greatest grunge album ever only gets a 4^? And just because Kurt was worse than Layne doesn't make him any better.

temporary
July 7th 2006



207 Comments


A review dissing Layne Staley??? *Pimpslaps Metallicaman* Nice job though, you earned my yay vote.

metallicaman8
July 7th 2006



4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Aha, yeah it appears I'm the only one not fond of his vocals. Meh, I stick by it.

rata
July 8th 2006



14 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i do agree, layne's voice can be pretty annoying at times... i still listen to this record thoughThis Message Edited On 07.08.06

Hunter555
July 9th 2006



424 Comments


I Love Layne's vocals, but I've only heard the Greatest hits.

tom79
July 16th 2006



3363 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Alice In Chains were probably the biggest grunge band of the nineties and this album is their best, in my opinion at least.

I'm sure its fact that Nirvana were bigger than AiC.

Anway, I'd listen to Jar of Flies over this, but this is still good. Dam That River and God Smack are pretty good songs. hmm..the only 3 recomended tracks are the 3 most popular ones, coincidence perhaps. And Layne is a great vocalist.

Digging: Braid - No Coast

f_u_c_t
July 16th 2006



1406 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah but what makes AIC different from Nirvana is that AIC wasnt highly overrated. And yes...Layne is a great vocalist.

Neoteric
July 16th 2006



3243 Comments


[quote=REVIEW LAWLZ]The majority of the songs were in drop D[/quote]Not to nitpick, but they were half a step down most of the time though some of the tracks were drop-D tuned down half a step.

metallicaman8
July 16th 2006



4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, I was sort of just guessing by the sound. I should've said "the majoity of the songs were probably in drop d".

tom79
July 16th 2006



3363 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah but what makes AIC different from Nirvana is that AIC wasnt highly overrated.

Yeah, I like AiC better, Nirvana was just more popular. But I think there is more than just that which makes them different.

f_u_c_t
July 16th 2006



1406 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah for starters, Layne actually gave a shit about his vocals and didnt throw them out there like Kurt did. I think some people just like Kurts vocals people they know he's so strung out, and messed up. Like its a really cool thing.

metallicaman8
July 16th 2006



4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I dislike both their vocals. Although I do prefer Layne over Cobain.

Neoteric
July 16th 2006



3243 Comments


Shuddup banned boy



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 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy