June 2003
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Chain Alice to your Stereo
By Scott B., Grade 12, Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB

Alice In Chains

You will get wrapped up in Chains within the first 'Grind' of the guitar. This album won't get 'Brushed Away' from your stereo anytime.

Alice In Chains formed in Seattle in the late 80's. The band consisted of Layne Staley on vocals, Jerry Cantrell on guitar, Mike Starr on bass and Sean Kinney on the drums. In 1990 they released their first album "Facelift". Two years later they released a 4-song album called "Sap" and later that year they released their critically acclaimed album "Dirt".

During their tour of Europe, Mike Starr decided to retire from the music business, so they recruited Ozzy Osbourne bassist Mike Inez to join the band. With the line change they went into the studio and recorded a 7 song EP "Jar of Flies". (This is the only EP to go to #1 in the States). Then in 1995 they released their last studio album called "Alice In Chains" (Although sometimes called "Tripod"). Alice In Chains went straight to #1 in the States. Even thought they came from Seattle and they were one of the big bands along side Nirvana and Pearl Jam during the "grunge" era, they aren't actually grunge, they're a rock band.

The sound on the album is A-1. You are able to clearly hear every guitar riff, bass note, drum beat and everything that Layne Staley and (sometimes) Jerry Cantrell have to say. This album is their 5th and final studio album and its one of their best. From the opening verse of ‘Grind' - "In the Darkest hole/You'd be well advised/Not to plan my funeral before the/Body Dies" (then followed with a great big "Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhhh" by ole' Layne) you are sucked into the world that is Alice In Chains and it only gets better from there. ‘Brushed Away' has a great solo and an awesome riff, ‘Sludge Factory' is one of the strange songs but that's what makes it great. Things slow down a bit on ‘Heaven Beside You' which is one of the mellow songs but they pick it up again with ‘Head Creeps' (souly written by Staley). This is a great rock song with great drumming. Then you get one of the gems on the album called ‘Again'. The riff gets your head moving and then you hear Layne say "Hey" you want to keep listening to the song to see where it's going.

The album slows down once again with ‘Shame In You' which is more of a mellower song the ‘Heaven Beside You' but with electric guitar. This song is one of the best on the album. Next on the list is ‘God Damn' and it starts off with what sounds like someone smoking out of a bong (probably Layne) the follows with "Sure gods all powerful. but does he have lips" which is strange but it keeps you wanting more. ‘So Close' opens with the beating of drums, a thumping bass and signature Jerry Cantrell sound then goes into the fantastic words of Layne Staley. The opening verse "Why are we hear again/It's the same ol' sit down roll around/Chewed up pen". It makes you wonder what's going on but the melody and music keeps you trapped. It's the shortest track on the album but you'll wish it was longer. As the album starts to come to an end, that's where you will hear some great tunes. "Nothing Song" has a unique chorus and melody and it makes you think of how great Layne really was. The music that goes along with it is pure Alice. Track 11 is the strangest song, but in a good way. "Frogs" is written by the whole band and its pure talent. The lyrics sound like there inspired by heroin (Layne's addiction), and the music is nothing like you heard before. ‘Over Now' is another mellow song and it's a great way to close an album. Cause the album is over and maybe Jerry Cantrell is sending a message to the fans saying that the band is pretty much over. (Since this is their last studio album).

"Alice In Chains" is an awesome album from ‘Grind' to ‘Over Now'. There's no filler and you won't skip through any songs. Once you throw this into your stereo, you will be listening to it again, again, again, again and again.


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