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Alice In Chains Magnum Opus,
This review is from: Facelift (Audio CD)I'll lead off by saying I'm still hit hard by the tragic and untimely death of Alice In Chains vocalist Layne Staley.
In case you're playing catch-up, in April 2002, his body was found dead in his apartment, apparently from a heroin overdose. Some have said "His death is more stupid than tragic". But I must completely disagree, unlike many I have a human side to me, which shows mourn. Also he was hooked on a substance that is very addictive. I point to the many other casualties as a testament to this. Most of the blamers wouldn't know how being strung out feels if their life depended on it, so how dare they try and weigh in with credibility. R.I.P Layne, we still miss you, you'll never be forgotten.
Before Starbucks, Microsoft and Grunge, the region of Seattle, Washington housed many Quality Rock acts, among one of them was Queensryche. While that band achieved their first taste of success, another local band was doing the rounds, Alice In Chains.
I've seen older pictures of the band, and it's clear their origins were in Glam-Metal (Which, as a fan of that genre, is fine by me.) In 1990 an E.P of the band impressed many Record Executives and made them sought after, hot property.
Never again would Layne Staley sing with this much power and emotion, and the band's playing in such an energetic manner that remains unmatched. Consider this: On "Facelift" they churned out blistering metal, On later efforts like "Dirt" the band adopted a more sludgy sound to fit in with the Alternative scene, you could argue they hopped on the trendy bandwagon.
All the time I get into arguments with friends over which Alice album reigns supreme, they of course say "Dirt". I think two things: A.They've never listened to Facelift in it's entirety. And B.They've simply been brainwashed by MTV.
The album cover is a personal favorite, The face of a headbanger slightly morphed, and vibrantly colored.
The album opens with the afforementioned "We Die Young", which boasts a distorted crunch, crank it up and you'll hear what I mean - HELL YEAH! The thoughtful lyrics explin the Rough life of living in the 'hood.
When debating why I believe "Facelift" is this band's best album I use the Next track "Man in the Box" to anchor my argument. It's their most well-known known song, no question. The tempo has a semi-plod to it, and guitarist Jerry Cantrell chimes in on the background vocals, and for the solo he cuts loose. "Sea of Sorrow" gets off to a Southern-fried boogie start with a piano, and proceeds to rock relentlessly, the chorus is catchy. The use of toms by Drummer Sean Kinney is noteworthy.
A fluid riff backs the verses of "Bleed the Freak" followed by a great high-pitched solo. "I can't remember" is built around a twin section of acoustic and electric guitars, and Layne Staley's vocals go from, laid-back to yelling, showcasing how verstaile he was. Michael Starr plays a good bass line on "Love Hate Love". The opening lick is similar to it's preceding song, but it's different as well, because it's much creepier. The mainframe moves along at a crawling baby's pace, and the chorus is totally engaging.
On "It ain't like that" Jerry Cantrell plays a nice effect that doesn't lets up 'til the song ends. Want Vocal Harmonies in the vein of "Rooster"? You got 'em, take one listen to "Sunshine". There's a tough-sounding build up to the chorus, which is "happy sounding" by Alice In Chains standards, And "Put You Down" has a superb groove. A moody, atmospheric trip lies in "Confusion", Michael Starr sings the backing vocals, and I've always thought he was a better, more skilled bassist than his replacement Mike Inez.
"I know somethin About You" has a funk feel to it, and closer "Real Thing" boasts hair-metal attitude, the lyrics are about what else? Heroin but it's likable nonetheless.
This album is a masterpiece through and through, one of the best debuts ever. And most Twelve track albums have a dud track or two, but none here, which is a rarity. I've always wondered why do the masses prefer follow-up albums? You can't call yourself an Alice In Chains fan and not own a copy of "Facelift". Newcomers be told it's a great deal heavier than "Dirt" and "Tripod".
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Initial post: Jun 20, 2007 11:46:12 AM PDT
Joshua Miller says:
I too was affected by the death of Layne Staley and consider myself a huge AIC fan. I believe "Dirt" is their best album and I've listened to "Facelift" in it's entirety and have only watched MTV a few times in my life. "Dirt" is a better album and it only grows better with familiarity. The same can be said of "Facelift" an album that I though was "Ok" at first and have now grown to love. "I Can't Remember" and "It Ain't Like That" and "I Know Somethin' 'Bout You" are all amazing tracks. "Man in the Box" is overrated and, oddly enough, doesn't really sound like AIC. Layne Staley's vocals are quite different on this track than they are on others.
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