Alice In Chains were initially tagged with the "grunge" moniker, when in fact their haunting, ponderous sound was far closer to the progressive rock of Queensryche
. Their second album Dirt
was a moody, portentous affair, filled with occasionally inspired riffing from guitar-player Jerry Cantrell and hair-tossed wailing from singer Layne Staley. Perhaps the band got lumped in with Generation X because of their lyrics--depression, death and drugs. Certainly, titles like "Down In A Hole, "Junkhead" and "Hate To Feel" didn't leave much room for doubt as to what Cantrell's particular passion was for. The quartet did have a slightly lighter, almost poppy side to them, though, as "God Smack" and Hate To Feel" indicated. In the main, however, Dirt
was classic angst rock, of the style their peers Pearl Jam
had made so popular.
Brutal and hard but exciting and surprisingly melodic, DIRTmade Alice In Chains national stars in 1992 after being around the Seattle alternative rock scene for many years. They produce a blindingly together sound, with the bass of Mike Starr able to switch between following the bass drum beat andcloning Jerry Cantrell's guitar note for note, albeit a fewoctaves lower. They have such polish that they are often reminiscent of the heyday of Led Zeppelin. Lyrically they plough the familiar angst furrow with tracks such as 'Junkhead','Sickman' and 'God Smack'. Equally satisfying are 'Them Bones' and 'Rooster', which saw them start in a direction that led to Jar Of Flies two years later.