Alice in Chains
Jar of Flies



by tribestros USER (62 Reviews)
July 29th, 2007 | 8 replies

Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Haunting. Dark. Eerily odd. Different. These words all describe Alice in Chains' Jar of Flies.

Alice in Chains' EPs were a much different release for them then most bands; whereas most bands release EPs as leftovers that didn't make the final cut for an album, Alice in Chains' EPs have always been a complete off-pace change of direction for Alice in Chains. Their first EP, Sap was much slower, mostly acoustic, and a lot different than their debut, Facelift. Where Facelift and Dirt bordered on metal, Sap and Jar of Flies were sometimes bordering on folk music, or country. Sap was a bit immature, ballad-heavy change of pace for Alice in Chains; but Jar of Flies was much, much different than Sap quite simply because this album is so much more mature, different, and feels so original and unique.

Even though this album was recorded in the span of a week, its easily my favorite Alice in Chains release. The album's quick changes, diversity, and 'feeling' it gave me attracted me to it, and easily made it one of my favorite albums of the middle 90s. Rotten Apple sets the tone for the album with its bassline and voicebox effects and mood-setting guitar riffs, while Swing on This ends the album on a much more poppy note with its beats and the vocal harmony between Staley and Cantrell. While many of the songs have the same structure, the songs all hold their own integrity because it seems they all have a strange vocal harmony, guitar riff, drum beat, or rhythm.

Not to mention many of the album's songs have a dark vibe, or 'tone' to them. Its possibly because Layne Staley was wasted and stoned most of the week they recorded it. The album just has a feel of being in an empty room, with no way out at certain points in the music; in songs like Rotten Apple, or Nutshell, the twisted, almost acoustic guitar riffs set the mood set the mood while Layne Staley adds to the effect with his haunting vocals.

The next two tracks, I Stay Away and No Excuses are a complete change from anything Alice in Chains had done up to the moment. Wild guitar riffs and effects littered with quick rhythm changes are scattered about the next two songs. I Stay Away opens up with a simple acoustic guitar riff featuring Layne Staley's most powerful vocals on the album up until the 'chorus' where it breaks down with a weird electric guitar backdrop where Layne Staley whines and moans almost as if its a simple guitar scale; before the song goes right back to where it starts and repeats itself before No Excuses is introduced which opens up with a simple drum beat opened by a truly odd guitar effect and riff before Layne Staley's vocals blend in with the guitar riff. The chorus is a bit more typical, the guitar riffs disappear in favor for a more simplistic guitar chord. The song is very catchy, and actually seems to lighten your mood; as far as this album can.

Swing on This is easily the most strange Alice in Chains song ever; if not the strangest song associated with the grunge movement. The guitar riffs and beats are odd and sound like a folk song. Layne Staley's voice is strange just like the song, and blends in very well with the beats in the song. The song's beat and rhythms are more catchy than the lyrics; but the song still is an Alice in Chains classic-quite simply because its so strange.

But let's go back to where Jar of Flies really shines; the darker songs. Whale and Wasp still has kept its haunting charm throughout all the years. With Cantrell in the background with a simplistic acoustic guitar riff, there's a loud, echoing guitar riff that overpowers everything before fading away. The song seems to repeat itself, with no vocals, but just as haunting as any other songs that feature his vocal abilities. Don't Follow is quite deceptive and a nice change of pace. Starting off with a soothing, yet creepy introduction where Staley mumbles and whines it seems opens it up before a harmonica comes in and the song picks up and Staley pulls out some of his most powerful vocals.

By the end, Jar of Flies comes off as a diverse adventure that incorporates many styles and shows what truly set Alice in Chains apart from all their fellow grunge counterparts. The lyrics are dark but the album gets overwhelmingly depressing in many spots not because of the lyrics; but the eerie guitar work, quick rhythm changes, and Layne Staley's always haunting vocals. By the end, its a shockingly dark and haunting piece of music that just happens to be Alice in Chains' best work.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Two-Headed Boy
July 30th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Whale and Wasp still haunts my thoughts to this day

Sorry dude that is really cheesy.

Otherwise good work, this is the only AiC album I really like.

July 30th 2007


The song is...haunting...

July 30th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

[Quote=]Swing on This is easily the most strange Alice in Chains song ever; if not the strangest song associated with the grunge movement.[/Quote]

this an excellent fusion between grunge and jazz.

Re: the first four songs are top-notch AiC tracks.

it's tough pick a favorite from these but it would probably be Rotten Apple and Nutshell. i think your discription fits well with the former.

This Message Edited On 07.30.07

July 30th 2007


Yes it is. That's the word I was looking for.This Message Edited On 07.29.07

July 30th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

and yes, good review again. i think what the two-headed dude said is kinda right. if one uses the word 'haunting' too much, it sounds like fanboy review.This Message Edited On 07.29.07

July 30th 2007


But I said haunting twice (well 3 before I edited it)

July 30th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

one of my favorites from aic. it's beautiful music.

July 30th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I really like it, too. Rotten Apple is really beautiful in a weird way. I like the vocal harmonies on it. The others are just as beautiful and yes, haunting is the right word for it. ...Oh yeah, I forgot to tell ya, good review!

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