ARTIST: Alice in Chains
YEAR RELEASED: 1992
CHART ACTION: #6 US, #42 UK
SINGLES: Would? (#31 Mainstream, #19 UK), Them Bones (#30 Alternative, #24 Mainstream, #26 UK, Angry Chair (#27 Alternative, #34 Mainstream, #33 UK), Rooster (#7 Mainstream), Down in a Hole (#10 Mainstream, #36 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Dam That River
LINEUP: Layne Staley, Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney, Mike Starr. Tom Araya sang on one track with Staley.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Impressive follow-up record that put Alice in Chains in the big leagues, which was good and bad for them as it turns out.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Layne Staley had the voice, Jerry Cantrell had the riffs and the melodies, and Alice in Chains fit right into the rock scene in 1992. Not really grunge, and not in the inner orbit of what was the Seattle scene (though definitely in the conversation), they were more metal than not, but Staley’s voice and the tone and tenor of the songs definitely fit right in the times.
The band, notably Cantrell, had both expanded their sound, and cut out the parts that made their previous release too generic. Songs like “Down in a Hole” and “Rooster” blend the acoustic and the monster riff to great effect, while “Rooster” is a chilling portrait of a Vietnam vet. At least three of the songs are about heroin addiction, which was going through the band at the time (especially Staley).
The tone and tenor of the tracks, and the unvarnished depiction of addiction, created a doomy aura, which was quite effective. Yet, as the band went on, the addictions got out of control, and this era may have been a tipping point, as honest as they were about it.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: They were going to start recording in LA, but the riots were starting and they had to flee town with Tom Araya until the situation cooled down.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No
GRADE A-: Even today, it’s a chilling record with great riffs and vocals.