Alice In Chains
-Alice In Chains
The Band: Layne Staley- Vocals
Jerry Cantrell- Guitar, back up vocals
Mike Starr- Bass
Sean Kinney- Drums
Alice In Chains have to be my favourite 90ís grunge band. Iíve been listening to them a lot lately and theyíve grown on me considerably. Although, this hasnít always been my opinion of the band. I used to be somewhat on the fence with them. Why" Well, it certainly didnít have anything to do with the instrumentals. They werenít overly spectacular, but they were splendid none the less. The guitar was wonderful and really contributed in giving this album its overall feel. The bass was very well written and easy to here at most points. The drums were also marvelous, varying and in time for most of the album. So, again how could I have been formerly on the fence with this band" Well thatís a good question. Iíve already told you I like the guitar, the bass, and the drums. So whatíre we missing here" Ah yes, the vocals. Iíve never really been a fan of Mr. Staley. While his tone suites the bands music well, his voice has always just sort of made me feel perturbed. Yes, perturbed would be the perfect word, because they donít bother me too
much. Certainly not to the point of boycotting the band or anything, but they do get on my nerves some. Especially because Layne has a habit in a lot of tracks to do this sort of low pitched whine over top of guitar parts. Iíve learned to tolerate this, though. Layneís vocals donít bother me too much anymore at all. Especially on this album, because itís a tad softer than some of their previous works. So, Staleyís vocals are softer than usual. I enjoyed this slight change in musical style. While this album is softer its also a bit brighter, if you get me. Their previous albums seemed to have a much darker feel than this one. This album while still being moderately depressing had a bit of a happier feel to it. I thought this was great because their previous albums while being wonderful always brought down my mood. Not to say this one excelled my mood, it just left it sort of in the middle. This album was also a little more instrumentally evolved than their others I found. A lot more clean toned riffs and solos, as well as lots of extremely well written bridges and interludes.
One thing I tend to look for in albums is ďplayback valueĒ. Unfortunately this album seemed to be lacking it. Donít get me wrong I loved the music, but this albumís overall feel sort of makes it hard to listen to it too often. I can maybe listen to one or two songs and then switch over to a genre of music, but thatís about it. If you listen to this album all the way through, you may find it to be rather boring. This is due to the fact that a lot of the songs are similar. Not necessarily sounding the same, but similar. I mean similar in the sense that they all have sort of the same feel. Not too mention Layne has sort of a generic, flat voice, which keeps things from getting too diverse. There are some
different sounding songs, but even the most different of tracks seem a tad similar due to Layneís voice. Itís not that his singing was bad (although they was too, too great either) just sort of bland. The instrumentals didnít vary to much either. Other than the fact that they were either heavy or clean. Other than that all the riffs seemed sort of similar. This is without a doubt a great album, but itís definitely not something to listen to every day.
Sputnik is a very diverse community. Everyone has their own opinions and own tastes, but I think thereís on thing everyone can agree on. Filler is bad. No one likes to be listening to an album and come across songs that the band just sort of threw in there to beef up the album. I myself know I hate it when bands do that. It just brings down the album overall. Usually not too much, but filler can separate the good from the great and this album does have its share of filler. ďHead CreepsĒ, ďSo CloseĒ and ďNothiní SongĒ all seemed like filler to me. They really didnít contribute anything to the album. None of them were really that bad, but they were far from great. They just kind of blended in. Suiting the albums feel, but doing nothing else. All of the filler tracks I mentioned were also sort of repetitive, which annoyed me. They were pretty
instrumentally sound, Iíll give them that, but other than being mildly well written they were just, well ďfillerĒ. Luckily they didnít take too much away from the album.
Guitar and Bass
This albumís guitar/bass were undeniably magnificent. The guitar gave the album quite a bit of variety which kept it from getting too boring. As I believe I mentioned earlier their were a lot more clean toned riffs, like in the intro to ďHeaven Beside YouĒ. I enjoyed the cleaner toned riffs immensely. A lot of them were the kind of riffs that you get stuck in your head and they stay there all day long, but in a good way. Most were quite mellow, which goes hand in hand with clean tone. They were also quite well written I must add, as I just checked out a few tabs for them. This is definitely some of Cantrellís best work. This album also had more than its fair share of heavier guitar work, as well. Like the cleaner guitar work it was very well written. I believe most of it was in drop D, or drop C perhaps" Iím not quite sure and too lazy to go back to the tab website. There some power chords used, but not too many, which was good. As many of you know I get a little frustrated when bands overuse power chords. The bridges and interludes were outstanding, also. The majority of them had sort of a funky feel. Sort of like tool, but not quite that funky. Iím not sure exactly what FX Cantrell used on his amp, but they were definitely unique, to a degree. Solos on this album were few and far between, but the solos that were there were adequate. Fairly well written, they were. Itís hard to call a lot of them solos, but nothing else really suites them. Most of them were sort of a small compilation of bends combined with some strange FX. Now, we switch over to the bass. The bass in this album was nothing short of fantastic. I liked how in several tracks instead of following the guitarís root notes, the bass forged itís own path. It was also rather audible at most points, which I believe I mentioned earlier. There werenít too many points in this album were the bass had any moments to shine, though. It was smothered by the guitar for much of the album, but it was very well written and you could here it, so thatís good enough for me. It also kept very good rhythm throughout.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Pros: Instrumentally sound
Vocals were better than on previous albums
Cons: Vocals still werenít too great
Overall I would say this album is a necessity for an Alice In Chains lover. Itís not their best work, but itís definitely right up there with a lot of their greater albums. The main reason a lot of you out there may want to purchase this is because like Iíve already mentioned it has a different style than a lot of their other music. Not too different mind you. It still has that classic AIC grungy feel to it, just a tad softer. Also, for an instrumentalists out there Iíd recommend learning some of these songs. I checked out a few tabs and the songs seemed pretty fun to play and not too hard either. Until next time (which will be quite a while from now) keep your stick on the ice.