|Kris Heding's review of "Nutshell"|
|Megan's review of "Again"|
|Greg Daugherty's review of "Down in a Hole"|
by Kris Heding
"Nutshell" is a favorite amongst Alice In Chains fans. Why? Well it's simple. It reflects the bands capabilities as musicians because they can make their songs rock, even when playing with acoustic instruments. "Nutshell" grabs your soul, and holds it there, pulling you into the song. It's soft, yet it reels you in just as much as any of their "plugged" songs. The lyrics capture a feeling I'm sure everyone has felt at one time. "And yet I fight this battle all alone" sums up everything right there. We have all felt as though we have to struggle through something alone. Everything about this song is in perfect balance, and every time I hear it I get chills up my spine.
Ahhh, Again. The perfect song to headbang to. The perfect rock song to dance to. The perfect song to jump up and down on your bed to. The perfect song to bang your head against the wall too. You get the idea. The steady rhythm of Jerry Cantrell's guitars and Sean Kinney's drums make this a perfect "rock out" song. The chorus, verse, and the "doot-doot yeah" part fit each other perfectly. They both sound different, yet keep the same vibe throughout the whole song.
Layne Staley's voice does a perfect job with his voice on this song. Monotonous on the verses, then the soaring AHHHHHH's during the chorus, and then the cute "doot-doot yeah's" make this song very hard not to sing along with. The lyrics are obscure, each line and verse doesnt have alot to do with each other, making it hard to interpret what this song is about in Layne's eyes. That mystery just makes the song even more enjoyable to me though.
All in all, it is a very aggressive, dark, yet fun song that really wants to make you tap your toes and move your head around.
Down in a Hole
by Greg Daugherty
"Down in a Hole" has always been one of my favorite AIC songs. Layne's vocals and Jerry's guitar playing are dynamic, but I think one thing that tends to get overlooked is Sean's drumming. "Down in a Hole" is perhaps one of Sean's finest drumming performances, but we'll save that debate for later. Every member of the band is acting as one person telling a story, and together AIC travels inside your mind, heart, and soul with the song. AIC's knack for acting as one voice, and one story teller, is what makes listening to "Down in a Hole" such an experience.
It is difficult to explain the beauty of this song, but let's begin by focusing on the instruments. Begin with a gentle tapping of the drum sticks on the symbols and a soft guitar cord. The softness is saying, "Be prepared for a sad time." Suddenly, the guitar is played louder, and the beating of the drums is more emphatic, demanding that you listen to this story. While Layne is singing, the ba-BUM, ba-BUM of the drums is beating away hard enough to make you pay attention, but soft enough to make you experience the sadness. A feeling of agony overcomes you, and the guitar cries with pain. Meanwhile, the drum beat has become even harder, forcing you experience this pain (just in case you didn't hear the guitar crying). The guitars are telling you, "I am hurt," and for some reason, the "I" in that "I am hurt" statement is really you. The drums are the exclamation points, and the bass is sadly humming along. When the chorus comes along, the instruments act together to ask, "Do you hear me?" The end of the song is emphatic. The dark, gloomy guitars and drums are fighting for life, suggesting that despite this pain and agony, the human spirit will prevail.
Now, let's add the vocals.
Beginning with the "oooooo" at the beginning of the song, Layne sets the stage for the softness and sadness. Throughout the song, you are filled with different messages. A person in despair enters your mind. He is sad and angry, but he wants to tell you his story so the same travesty doesn't happen to you. "I'm down, so let me help you avoid this. Don't cry for me, I'm already lost." By the time the chorus comes along, the anger becomes apparent. "Why me? This isn't fair. Life's not fair. You can't understand what I am going through." The song continues even more sadly. "I'm trying to lose all emotion and feeling. I must avoid this pain."
Soon, the end of the song approaches, and Layne and Jerry sing together softly. Layne quickly and loudly interjects, "Oh I want to be inside of you." It's as if he is saying, "I wish I were in your shoes. You must have learned something from my story. You won't end up as bad as I have been." By the time the last chorus comes around, you feel that a sense of conclusion and maybe even resolution is arriving. When Layne extends the "I" sound in "alive," he is saying, "I will NOT go down. I will triumph!"
Now, imagine the instruments and the vocals acting together as one voice. That's what happens in "Down in a Hole." The guitars, drums, and vocals are all united as one voice to deliver this message. This voice travels deep inside of you and forces you to experience the journey of this exhausted individual. It is a moving experience, and after listening to the song, you will discover that it is also an enjoyable one.