Yeah, Here Comes the Rooster…
Yo, this be Reuben. For the past few months I’ve really got into grunge, somehow taking me 15 years to listen to Pearl Jam’s Ten and Nirvana’s legendary Nevermind, and showing proper appreciation towards Soundgarden. But, before I tried all these bands, I was an Alice in Chains fan, although I did it wrong and listened to the more metal-y new stuff by the band, which although fantastic in its own right, isn’t the real Alice in Chains. This, my friends, is the real Alice in Chains.
Dirt is their second release and the best they ever put out. From the heady days of 1992, this record is just an awesome hour-long onslaught of grunge at some of its very best. It’s the more laid back, depressed side of the genre, admittedly, without the raw heaviness of Nirvana or the sheer complexity of Soundgarden, but it makes for absolutely fine listening.
Layne Staley showed in this record he was just as awesome a singer as anyone else in the Seattle scene, and in my opinion betters Kurt Cobain (they were equally good songwriters, alright?). His nonchalant but passionate vocals carry the album alongside the jeering guitar work from Jerry Cantrell in expert fashion, as Staley tells emotional stories in every track to incredible effect, particularly showing his strength in Rooster and Rain When I Die, which as a result stand as the two best songs on the album.
The whole sound is just as accomplished, as Mike Starr’s bass is powerful, slow and simple, to give the sound an un-matchable backbone, making the music heavy, but without power chords or energy — giving it a very unique and listenable feel. The drums from Sean Kinney have a similar effect. It’s all got a brilliant groove, which is sinister and entertaining at the same time.
Dirt, as a result, is depressing, down-beat, but expertly toned in this. It ends up as one big happy pile of grunge music to just put on and get put in a daze by. There are no dips of quality, as any number of the album’s tracks can stand as highlights. I don’t think it’s a spectacular album, and there isn’t anything quite as special as Man in the Box on it, but for one to stick on as background soundtrack it’s awesome, and ends up as one of the better albums of its time.
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