Potter Pantagraph

Alice in Chains

Alice in Chains' music is not built to be acoustic. Their songs are depressing, haunting, and often inspiring testements to feedback and distortion. But when they do play an acoustic set, it packs an emotional punch that rivals the great Nirvana Unplugged from a couple years back. Truly, Alice in Chains is something to behold whether electric or not. And this album is total and utter proof of that.

The album begins in a chilling version of "Nutshell" that pretty much sets the standard of quality for the album. After a quiet "Brother", the ear-candy song "No Excuses" sets a lighter tone, although not totally devoid of depression. Of course this lighter tone does not last long as AIC launches into a powerful "Sludge Factory", about singer Layne Staley's bouts with drug addiction. The quality remains constant in the angst-ridden "Down in a Hole" and the rocking "Angry Chair." "Rooster" quickly follows, a tumultuous account of pursuit of the enemy in which Staley hollowly screams "Oooooh../ Here comes the Rooster/ No, he ain't gonna die..." Then the ominous/happy "Got Me Wrong" is next, Alice in Chains at its best. "Heaven Beside You",a haunting melody, directly follows. "Would?" is a screaming anthem that is like grunge poetry, catchy yet frightening. "Frogs" is a spectral and unsettling tune, whereas "Over Now" is a strong and rythmic song. And the final song, "Killer is Me", the only new song on this album, is a lighthearted effort that is stylistically different than the other, more haunting songs on the album. It is the perfect song to round out this brilliant set of tunes.

Already this is one of my favorite albums. It shows what Alice in Chains really is behind the distorted, muffled chords of their studio produced efforts: musicians. And this CD, one of their finest to date, is proof of that.

-Joe Martin