Alice In Chains’ self-titled release is like a dark alley. Scary, dark and you never know what could happen next. Of course, it is all down to what makes the album, whether it’d be a pro or a con. This is an alright album, it isn’t great but then again it certainly isn’t bad. Though, personally, it’s probably the worst Alice in Chains release but it is still to some extent enjoyable I guess. This album is really flawed but I guess it’s a great example of the band’s work. This is dark, frightening and at the same time diverse. This has a big grunge label slapped on it, while it dabbles in metal traits, it never comes off as truly metal.
So I’ll start with what I enjoy about the album first eh? It contains some of the band’s best songs which isn’t difficult considering they only released three full length albums. Grind
makes you hang your mouth open the first time you hear it. Fuelled by that sludgy, wah poured lead line and the mix of Jerry’s clean singing and Layne’s creepy distorted vocals. The verses just scream, “I want to die now” in a grunge sort of way while the chorus seems like an ounce of hope. No, hope isn’t the word, what about “I want to die but there is more to life”? That still seems vague but it’s the best I’m going to get.
Probably my favorite from the album is the superior God Am
, again, a song that comes to life with Jerry and Layne’s twisting, meandering vocals. The drum beat is superb and the song have a dark, twisted feel. Adding on to that is a real depressing feeling. This song is depressing, this album is depressing, this band are depressing. But that’s how it is, deal with it. I like how the songs don’t vary too much but keep their distance enough so they stand on their own. Jerry’s guitar tone sounds great, it’s sludgy and fits in with the band’s style. The bass is also a great accompaniment for the guitar. The drumming is simple but I love it, Sean Kinney really knows how to take the simplest of drum beats and incorporate them to make the music seem even more darker.
Unfortunately, that’s all for the positives. The main complaint would be the bland, dull production. Listening to the album for a long period of time can really get on a guy’s nerves. It sounds like some poor quality mp3 and I’m not joking. Layne’s voice just sounds too plain and it seems he doesn’t have that vocal range that made his voice so good on other albums. The simplest explanation was that the drugs was taking it’s toll on him hence why he sounds so half-assed for most of the record. The only instance that I’ve liked Layne’s vocal work on the album is on Frogs
. A truly underrated song. It is built up with it’s soothing but murky, disturbing atmosphere. I love the bit where Jerry does this weird ringing-out effect on his guitar and who can forget the bit where Layne sings more quietly than usual and it truly reveals his anger. There is still tracks I really don’t like, Sludge Factory
is listenable for the first few minutes but after that, I want to claw my ear drums out. It really is a song that goes on for way longer that it’s supposed to (oh yeah, and that cheesy robot voice is annoying). Brush Away
is just bland but it does contain some nice guitar effects. Head Creeps
and Nothing Song
are snooze-fests and are really quite average.
Overall, I can stomach this album fine, I am a big fan of the band that’s why. But after a few listens to this, I noticed loads of things that just got on my nerves. This is a really bland record which is a shame as it contains some great songs. Half of the album is good, the other half is just mediocre. The things that spoil it for the album is the plain production and the fact that Layne sounds like he’s bored stiff. Disregarding that, this is a gloomy, twisted, truly grunge record which would be worth the money of the die-hard fan. No one else.