on April 21, 2005
In 1995, Alice In Chains released what would be its final studio album, simply titled "Alice In Chains," AKA "Tripod" (because the album cover has a three legged dog). Although the self-titled disc sold well, it has never received the acclaim or fan adoration that it deserves.
Following the release of their 1992 masterpiece "Dirt," Alice In Chains released a seven song semi-acoustic album, "Jar of Flies," the following year. For their next project, Alice In Chains went back to a heavier sound with their self-titled CD. Alice In Chains self-titled album is a metal album in the same vein as "Dirt," but it is also distinctly different from its predecessor. While a majority of "Dirt" was fast-paced and intense, the self-titled album is far more sluggish, and the songs more mid-tempo, but without sounding tepid. The album sort of grinds its way though-but I don't mean that as a negative, because everything works. Although this is a slothful sounding album, it always stays intriguing and never runs out of steam. Whereas "Dirt" kind of screamed in agonizing pain, the self-titled album sort of moans in agonizing pain. The album has a freak show, nightmare-ish quality. This is an extremely depressing album. Song, after song, everything is a downer after another. But it does end on a slightly more optimistic note with "Over Now."
The band sounds as tight and cohesive as ever on "Tripod". As always, Jerry Cantrell's riffs and solos are intriguing and interesting, with each and every song. Layne Staley's singing sounds a little more downcast, but no less powerful. Drummer Sean Kinney and Bass player Mike Inez provided a dynamic and powerful rhythm section.
I find that the self-titled album differs from past albums to some extent lyrically. I find a majority of the song on "Facelift," and "Dirt" to be straightforward and a lot of the songs on the self-titled album to be somewhat ambiguous. The meaning behind songs like "Grind," "Brush Away," "Shame in You," "Head Creeps," etc. is rather obscure. But this isn't a bad thing as the lyrics never seem pretentious.
Another thing different about the self-titled album is the surprising amount of material sung by guitarist Jerry Cantrell. Although Cantrell had sang a few AIC songs on prior releases, his presence here is more pervasive. Cantrell has a fine singing voice, so this is not a problem. Cantrell's straightforward heartfelt vocals compliant Layne Staley's eerie singing perfectly.
"Tripod" starts out with the amply titled "Grind," as the song grinds its way through. It sounds like the riff was inspired straight out of the Tony Iommi sound book. It reminds me a little of Black Sabbath's "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath." Layne Staley's eerie background vocals over Jerry Cantrell's lead vocals work really well. The ghostly "Brush Away" has an intense, almost paranoid feel to it. "Sludge Factory" is one of the album's highlights. This is a very creepy song. Staley's dark, frightening vocals are spine-chilling. The mood switches from chilling to dismal with the beautifully gloomy "Heaven Beside You." The song actually feels, as one of its lines states, "like the coldest winter chill." Again, Staley's vocals over Cantrell's sound excellent. "Head Creeps" is another mid-tempo sluggish rocker and keeps up the momentum. "Again," is another one of the albums highlights. It has an infectious, bone-crunching riff and an intense frantic chorus. Staley sounds despondent in "Shame In You," and "God Am." The slow paced, soft-spoken "Shame In You" features a very cool, extended solo at the end. Staley sounds as though he were reaching his wits-end in the Sabbath-like "God Am." The tempo is picked up a bit with the ferocious "So Close." It actually sounds as though it could have been used for "Dirt." The dismal "Frogs" is a song that you really need to be in the right mood to hear. It seems to go on forever. It is very soft-spoken and mellow, yet also intense, as though Staley were about ready to explode. The album closes with the beautiful semi-acoustic Cantrell sung "Over Now." Peaceful resignation seems to be its theme.
Alice In Chain's self-titled, "Tripod," album is one of the most gloomy, despondent albums ever recorded. But it's also a finely written one. Although it's a very cheerless album, there is an undeniable beauty to it.
on May 9, 2003
Before I start, I'd like to ask: Why do some people hate 'Frogs?' This is my favorite song off the record. Long, sludgey, great guitar and bass. I'm a bass player myself and I found Frogs fun to play along to. The rest of Tripod is great as well. What I dig about Alice In Chains is their sludge grunge is backed up by melody. Very enjoyable, headbanging material here. This is obviously the late Layne Staley's masterpiece, having written most of the sings on here (Cantrell's work is also great) and singing his best yet.
Grind - Nice opener, great chorus. Sounds kinda like classic, old Alice in Chains (Facelift).
Brush Strokes - This song doesn't really catch my attention. Kinda weak compared to some others, but some nice guitar stuff going on here.
Sludge Factory - A great, powerfull, heavy riffing tune. One of my favorites.
Heaven Beside You - most mellow track, and one of the best. This is some great work by Jerry Cantrell.
Head Creeps - Second only to 'Frogs'. 'Head Creeps' and alot of stuff after it are more fast paced. I love the little "no more time" thing Staley does.
Again - Great stuff here. Fast paced, like 'Head Creeps'.
Shame in You - Another mellow one, and this one doesn't really catch my attention like some of the others. Still pretty nice, though.
God Am - Probably the best opening guitar riff I've ever heard. Great song.
So Close - Short, isn't it? Short but sweet, actually. This is a great song, and once again, I like the guitars.
Nothin' Song - This one cracks me up. Definitely not filler, contrary to what some folks think.
Frogs - The best song off the album, and the 2nd best AiC song ever. This one never ceases to amaze me. The melodic guitar riff at the beggining of the chorus...Wowzer. And the mumbling at the end, while making no sense whatsoever, is still a part of the song, and pretty darn good, too. Great song. Much better than the unplugged version, which was also great.
Over Now - Yea, AiC is over now. But with Tripod, they went out with a bang. 'Over Now' is a J. Cantrell song, and a good one at that. You can really tell the difference between the styles of Staley and Cantrell.
Tripod, Facelift and Dirt are like grapes, apples and oranges. All different from eachother in style. But I guess I like the sludgey, melodic, slow paced Tripod a bit better than the first two LPs. I reccomend this to any rock fan.
on February 15, 2003
Originally called "Tripod" (evidenced by the 3-legged dog on the front cover, and 3-legged man on the back cover), this self-titled album divided many Alice In Chains fans, who probably longed for the band to return to the faster-paced doom-rock found on _Dirt_. They didn't lose the doom, but, things became a bit more slower, absorbing and sophisticated this time around.
Come 1995 and on, all kinds of rumors were flying around about Alice In Chains: (1). The band would continue in the direction of _Jar Of Flies_, never making another hard rock/metal album again. (2). Layne Staley was drugged-out, losing his teeth and some of his fingers as a result of gangrene (due to heroin abuse and other things.) The former was obviously not true, since this album was a hard rock/metal album. But, the latter was supposedly true. I can't confirm too much more, since I don't know too much about this band, so I'll just get on with the content found on this disc.
The music on here is dark as usual, exploring themes like pain, drug addiction, misery, depression and other things. "Grind" is an intense, grimy cruncher with some distorted backing vocals from Layne Staley during the verses. Jerry Cantrell sings lead vocals here for most of the track. "Sludge Factory" is my personal favorite on here. It features a slowly simmering, scorching, ominous, eerie guitar line fronted by a swapping of snaky vocal harmonies and a seemingly indifferent, but commanding line from Layne, rounded off with some descending jazzy basslines. This is only the description for the main theme that segues into the verses. Such seemingly odd fanfare that actually works. The ending features some robotic vocals, ominous guitar solos and some thick, doomy basslines. "Heaven Beside You" was supposedly written about Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. "Head Creeps" is a disturbing number featuring Layne, once again, in a distorted vocal performance. "Shame In You" sounds like something that could have came off of _Jar Of Flies_, as it's probably the most mellow on the album. A poignant ballad. "God Am" features some crunchy guitar, fronted by Layne Staley's moving and plaintive vocals. His vocals on the chorus are so melodic and moving, it makes this an aching listen. "So Close" and "Nothin' Song" seem to lighten up the mood a little bit - at least on a musical level, as both feature moments that actually make me laugh. "Frogs" is a haunting, slow and melodic number, for the first four minutes. The last few minutes feature Layne mumbling mysteriously. "Over Now" seems out of place on this album. The reason is because it's more pop/rock oriented, and is not as dark as the rest of the album. However, it's melodic, tasteful, reflective and catchy. However, the scathing irony of all of this is that the title of this song seemed to foreshadow the future of the band, and this was the last track of their last studio album. Very scary.
This is quite an astounding album, even if it was a departure from the material found on _Dirt_. Certainly worth a listen if dark, eerie, thought-provoking and moving music is your cup of tea. R.I.P. Layne Staley.
on August 14, 2003
"Alice in Chains" gets a lot of flack from fans and frankly I don't know why. It's definetely one of the best Alice in Chains album and one of the best hard-rock albums of the 90s. The entire album is a dark and disturbing trip to the head of a junkie trying to break free of his chains. Let's do this song by song:
Great opener and the second best song in the album. "Grind" showcases why Jerry Cantrell is one of the premier guitarists of the 90s. He builds this entire song out of distorted, wailing wah-wah pedal noodlings. It's amazing to hear. His singing is also beautiful and serves as a startling contrast to Layne's distorted and terrifying vocals that surface at several points in the song. 10/10
2.) Brush Away
Another great song. The main riff is so sparkling and catchy you'll be humming it for days. 9/10
3.) Sludge Factory
I thought this track was kinda weak. It had a great beginning and Layne's vocals are at their best but it quickly degenerates into a rambling, unfocused track. It has its great moments though. Listen to the Unplugged version for a leaner and better version. 7/10
4.) Heaven Beside You
A beautiful song. Combining elements of folk and country with dashes of Alice in Chains' copyrighted brand of sludge make this track a winner. Once again Layne and Jerry harmonize and together create a beautiful vocal experience. It's almost like the Beatles...10/10
This is, in my opinion, the best song in the album. It's distorted, dark, rambling, hypnotic...everything an Alice in Chains song should be. Layne Staley sings this entire song with a menacing growl that can only be produced by a junkie. The whole song is like heroin-withdrawal set to guitars. Beautiful and horrifying. 10/10
What could follow "Head Creeps"? This song, while decent, is kinda of a let-down, but an Alice in Chains' letdown is still better than anything being released today so you can't go wrong. 8/10
7.) Shame in You
Kinda sappy. Although the acoustic/electric music is beautiful, the vocals and the lyrics don't really do it justice. A great solo though. 7/10
Another dark and disturbing epic. "God Am" is a cry for help and a display of anger at God from a junkie who has nothing to live for. Great stuff...Layne growls and begs his way across hypnotic drumming while Jerry's guitars fade in and out, weaving themselves like worms across the fabric of this song. 10/10
9.) So Close
A short and forgetful song. It seems kinda of out of place with its fast tempo among such slow dirges. 6/10
10.) Nothing Song
The weakest song in the album. Although the weird tonality of it and the playful lyrics will entertain you, it will fail to make you appreciate it. 5/10
The 3rd best track of the album. "Frogs" perfectly encapsulates the whole concept of the album. It is a cry of mourning for lost friends and lost love. Layne's vocals are masterfully produced. He is singing one moment, growling the other, muttering like a deranged lunatic in the other...absolutely mesmerising. And the turn up the volume during the mumblings to hear what Layne is actually saying. Scary stuff. 10/10
12.) Over Now
This song, while a little flat, ends the album perfectly. Jerry Cantrell's voice and guitars really stand out in this song and it previews a lot of his future, solo work. 8/10
In conclusion, not since "Exile on Main Street" have the raving and rants of a junkie been this entertaining and listenable. Get this album.
on March 5, 2006
I Know that i am part of the minority but this is my favorite album by alice in chains
Grind: 10/10 Awesome and great jerrys voice is good at the start. throughout the whole song jerry and lyne sound magnificent with jerry as the main guy with laynes voice backing it and it sounds great.
Brush Away: 9.7/10 Great as well i like this song a lot. a semi acoustic start and the song has good lyrics like" my conception a joke or latest craze; i try to get away and yet i stick around so fall and crawl away and brush away loose ground" the solo is alright but sounds a lot like the rest using jerrys favorite tool obviously the "wah" bar.
Sludge Factory: 9.6/10 One of the heaviest riffs at the start and the ending is one of the best because of whatever theyre doing but all you can understand is your weapon is Kill! the song is good and jerry doesnt sing at all it is all layne but it will surprise you how hard the starting riff is.
Heaven Beside You: 10/10 Jerrys song and it is one their best the entire song is unclear and semi acoustic i think its about jerrys exgirlfriend or something like that.
Head Creeps: 9.7/10 One of the best songs on the album. laynes voice could not sound wierder but the song has great lyrics like " tired of infantile claims" or "one day my head creeps someway my head leaks some way my brain leaks some way" then he does creepy moaning screams.
Again: 9.2/10 Maybe good but the lyrics are all very short in all
the songs lyrics to the song are very simplistic as i stated has a very catchy tune.
Shame in You: 8/10 Is good but is the start of the less heavy songs very moany
God Am: 9.1/10 Good but i like the live version better as well picks up the heavy again layne says something about gods at the beggining but i cant tell what he says
So Close: 8.7/10 Great. but it sounds a little out of tune the start has a guy say something like hes got my eyes.
Nothin Song: 6/10 Too long and you have to listen to it a lot to even come anywhere to like it took me forever just to listen to it...
Frogs: 7/10 continues to the longness but its pretty good just like nothin song
Over Now: 9.8/10 Another all Jerry song and it is awesome but semi acoustic so it sounds like it needs to be on sap just like heaven beside you an all jerry song and is very calm and melodic. jerrys voice is very smooth.
on May 14, 2000
I would say this Alice In Chains album is much more "complete" than the previous ones. All the songs have a certain mood to them and they are very dark. Songs are more complex than in Dirt. Tracks like Brush Away, Sludge Factory, Head Creeps and Again are very heavy and will get you going if you are looking for great, distorted riffs on this album. There are slower songs too, like Heaven Beside You and Shame In You and there is some darkness thrown into those as well. I would agree with other people's comments on Layne Staley. He doesn't scream and use his voice as he used to do in Facelift, but he is still great and very different from any of the other singers I heard in my life. He is a very talented man, and you can still hear that on songs like Frogs. I would say that there are nearly no fillers on this album (there are just 2 in my opinion), and all the songs rock. If you have listened to previous Alice In Chains albums or even Unplugged, and you liked them, I strongly urge you to buy this one. I think this album is their best. But it takes time to get used to it, and you probably will not like it the first time you hear it.
As for the people who have never listened to an Alice In Chains album or heard just a couple of tracks of them, don't buy this album. If you are one of these people, I advise you to buy either Dirt or unplugged, THEN get this cd. This was my first AIC cd, and it took me a long while before I started liking it.
on August 17, 2005
Alice In Chains released their self titled album in 1995, when Nirvana had already gone, Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots were beginning to head down a road that would lead to some of their less known CD releases, and grunge itself was beginning to deteriorate. Nu metal bands, such as Korn and Godsmack would soon be taking over the music industry, so things looked grim for the grunge genre.
Alice In Chains self titled CD is in many ways, different from their other releases. It's much more dark. The tempo never rises above medium paced. The emphasis seems to be more on the lyrics and the singing then on anything else, because Jerry Cantrell's guitar solos are very diminished and Sean Kinney's drums are very straightforward. But nevertheless, there's still a certain quality to the songs that make them all interesting and standout. Perhaps it's the mystery surrounding them all. In Dirt and Facelift, the songs were all much more fast paced, and they had a more metal feel to them.
1. Grind - Probably the heaviest song on the CD. Jerry Cantrell sings most of this song, and uses the wah pedal A LOT. Very crunchy, heavy riff in the background. 10/10
2. Brush Away - I think compared to the rest of the songs on this CD, this one isn't anything that special compared to other songs. A lot of the time, I skip over this song, but hey, that's just my opinion.. The song, I think, has a repetitive riff that never seems to change... kind of an anticlimatic song.
3. Sludge Factory - I think that this song starts off excellent, and slowly drifts downward and ends up suffering fromt he same problem that Brush Away did: It drags on and on with a very repititious riff. Layne's voice is very eerie, and the lyrics are quite ambigious. The song should of ended at about 4 minutes, but it goes on and on with Layne's voice saying "Your weapon is guilt". 8/10
4. Heaven Beside You - A very, very good song that features mostly Cantrell on vocals. I like how the guitar starts acoustic and slowly builds up to a very neat electric solo by Cantrell. 10/10
5. Head Creeps - At this point in the CD, there seems to be two different sides of Alice In Chains on it. The Heaven Beside You/Grind side, with the heavier, more melodic songs, and the dark, grungy side, like Brush Away and Sludge Factory. Head Creeps is one of the latter. It's very dark, and Layne's singing is very creepy with the effects on his voice. Not really one of my favorites, and it seems to outstay it's welcome. 7.5/10
6. Again - This song is probably the most popular one off of the self titled CD. Jerry Cantrell has an infectious riff throughout the song, and Layne's singing is superb. It slowly builds up to a crescendo at the end of the song. One of the heavier AND better songs on the CD. 9.5/10
7. Shame In You - I find this to be one of Alice In Chains's most underrated songs. It starts off very mellow and very slow. The singing is very soft, and as the song's tempo steadily increases, and the instruments get louder and louder, Layne's voice stays soft. My favorite song on the CD. 10/10
8. God Am - I find this to be the strangest song on the CD. The guitar is almost offtune in a way,and the lyrics are very strange. Not one of my favorites at all, but I like the riff that Cantrell has at the beginning of the song. 7.5/10
9. So Close - A short song, almost like an interlude. I never really liked this song all that much, until recently. It's very.. punkish, in a way. 8/10
10. Nothing Song - Another very strange song, and it's like God Am, almost off tune in a way. But I found it to be much more catchy then God Am, especially the chorus of the song. It's hard to tell exactly what Layne is saying through the lyrics, since they are very odd. 8/10
11. Frogs - I believe this song is the softest on the CD, and even when it reaches it's climax, it's still very slow. You'd think that after about four minutes, when the song starts to slow down, and Layne just starts muttering incoherently, that it would end up suffering just as Sludge Factory does, but it doesn't. It's a very nice, soft song. 9/10
12. Over Now - I think that this is one of the greatest endings to a CD. With Dirt, they had Would?, which is also my favorite song by them. With the self titled, it's Over Now. The song is like Frogs in a way, never getting too fast, but keeping a steady tempo. Jerry Cantrell sings most of this song, but Layne does some back up vocals. It's weird that this is the last song on their last CD. Because, it's true, soon enough, it would be over for Alice In Chains. 10/10
on May 4, 2016
Back in the day, the dudes and I imagined that, one day, Layne Staley would get better and start making music again. That was wishful thinking, unfortunately. Listening to Alice In Chains' classic material now, it is obvious in retrospect that it was impossible. Even in 1992, Dirt was already written by a doomed man. The self-titled album was written by a dying one.
The clearest indicator is the half-written quality of many of these songs. They sound unfinished and unfocused, without clear themes or coherent narratives. Sure, there are exceptions -- the last-stand defiance of "Grind," the desperate, helpless blasphemy of "God Am," the brief flash of bitter sobriety in "Shame In You" -- but most of the rest of the album consists of muddled, fragmented rants, the palpable decay and degradation of consciousness. There was not enough material to fill the album: "Nothing Song" seems like it was thrown together in the studio on the spot, endlessly repeating "began this take at 7:38 / wonder should I be working so late?" The chorus in "Again" is simply "you made a fool of me again, again, again, again" ad nauseam.
Even the better songs are murky and fragmented. I never quite got how "Heaven Beside You" could have been a hit -- to me it sounds like parts of two different songs spliced together, with almost comically rough writing in the "so there's problems in your life" section. The twangy acoustic guitar sounds very odd, but there is no further development, it just sinks into sludge. In general Cantrell tries to lighten up the proceedings a bit, contributing a few songs that emphasize endurance or survival, but it sounds completely hollow, like in "Over Now" where all he can say is "yeah, it's over now." The only part of that song that has weight is when he ruefully acknowledges, "we pay our debt sometime."
The air of death hangs so heavily over these ugly, sludgy, monotonous tracks that, somehow, a few of them turn into twisted masterpieces -- horrible and painful ones, but masterpieces all the same. "Frogs" is a long, monolithic crawl that first goes through a couple of fairly conventional-sounding verses, except that Staley sounds completely detached, almost like he's humming distractedly. There is a moment of sharp focus in which he howls, "Why's it have to be this way?!" and after that, all semblance of song structure is lost, and all that is left is formless guitar murk and meaningless, delirious muttered threats. He wrote his own epitaph, and it leaves a feeling of complete waste.
"Head Creeps" is another one of these moments. It is the sound of being completely physically disoriented, feeling like there are lead weights inside one's head. The brutally dark riff rumbles monotonously while Staley drones "just one more time" and "slapped in the face again." There is no real conclusion, it just goes on like this. In a way it's even more direct and explicit than "God Smack" from Dirt -- here, he's not telling you about himself, but you're there with him while he talks to himself without even seeing that you're there.
"Grind" has the same heaviness, but is also the only song on the album with clear dynamics and a fleshed-out lyrical idea. It helps that this is maybe the best and most memorable vocal interplay between Staley and Cantrell on record. Cantrell starts each verse with a calm, almost vulnerable tone, and Staley picks up with a distorted, cadaverous croak. It is one of the band's best songs, and there is a clear sense of picking yourself up off the floor for one last fight, but at the same time lines like "you'd be well advised / not to plan my funeral 'fore the body dies" sound like self-delusion, desperate self-assurance from a man half in the grave already.
The album is overly long, uncomfortable and often unpleasant. There is a temptation to view it as Staley's last will and testament, but there is no message here and no real personality -- any emotion that he wanted to express, anything that he wanted to articulate, has been completely subsumed by nausea and physical suffering. For that same reason the album can also be immensely powerful (possibly in ways that weren't intended), but by this point he was gone, and all we can see from these songs is that there was no way to help or reach him. Actually "Get Born Again" and "Died," the last two songs with Staley recorded in 1998, are better-written, feature the band at its full power, and serve as better final statements of Staley's musical talents.
on December 18, 2004
Maybe its the neon colors (florescent yellow plastic, and cd case) Neon Purple and Lime green disk that make this album just seem bright in my head. But this album just is more perkier, shall I say? Grind, God Am, Heaven Beside you,etc are the best tracks, and the one's that stand out to me. I love this album, almost as much as I love Dirt. Layne Staley was to me, the most pain-stricken, talented singer we had. He was more talented than Kurt Cobain, sure he didnt play guitar as much, he was a drummer. Him and Jerry Cantrell were a driving force in great music. Its a shame we lost him. But we have his amazing vocals, jam packed on what a dozen, recordings. Thank you Layne.
on January 20, 2013
The title may seem redundant ("AIC" and "dark") if you've even briefly encountered this band's work, but trust me: they kick it up a notch or ten on the late Staley's final studio appearance. FACELIFT and DIRT were heavy, ferocious, and full of anger, but with just enough glam tossed in the mix to captivate a mainstream audience at the height of the Seattle sound. It comes as no surprise that their eponymous release in 1995 received a less thunderous response than its predecessors, and remains relatively overlooked to this day: that grungy ferocity and rebellious energy was largely replaced with utter despondency and bitter listlessness. Anyone who struggles to identify with pure, unadulterated depression need not apply here.
If anything on AIC's 1992 mega-success DIRT foreshadowed the twist they'd take here, it was "Hate to Feel." The mood and pace of that five-minute nightmare serves as a good baseline for what to expect on any given track, though this record is undoubtedly even darker and stranger at times. Of course, even for the depressed and for fans of unabashedly-dreary art, darkness alone does not a masterpiece make. Rest assured that, thanks to Jerry Cantrell, the riffage and musical virtuosity on display here are more than sufficient to seal the deal on this genre-highlight LP. The diversity of dissonant chord progressions is particularly noteworthy (see: "So Close", "Again"), as is the realization that even 18 years later, many of them stand as unique; perhaps no other hard rock band with hopes of mainstream success would dare tread territory this offbeat. Best of all, the production is amazing in its own right. I honestly can't think of one facet of this album that holds it back.
Highlights include the acoustic-based "Heaven Beside You," Staley-penned "Head Creeps," trippy "God Am," and... hell, the entire four-track closing sequence is absolutely essential. "Frogs" is perhaps the most stunningly-depressing song I've ever heard, and really puts into perspective the relative plastic-ness of all the AIC imitators that followed over the years (Disturbed, Godsmack, Staind, et al). In fact, realizing that a band with this much talent and depth were able to push upwards of 10 million records (this one alone went double platinum) during the early-mid 1990s makes one wonder if mainstream music really has jumped the shark in our current era.
To me, this is clearly the apex of AIC's short but dense and quality-rich career (as the original lineup). That's not to take away from their fantastic and often more listenable early work, but make sure not to skip this one just because it doesn't have any mega-hits.