The birth of legends
It’s 1990, and the music world is in the midst of a metal domination, with such acts as Slayer, Metallica, Cannibal Corpse and Sepultura playing for sold out shows across the countries of the world and blasting through the speakers of a younger generation of kids and adults. But as with the turning of the decade new things surface, and the 90’s emerging trend is a new genre of music known as Grunge. Combining elements of both Pop and Rock, Grunge had all the elements to appeal to a younger generation of listeners. The birthplace of the genre is commonly considered to be in Seattle, Washington, with up and coming bands like, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney. Alice in Chains is another such band to pop up from Seattle with a grunge sound, but with a major difference, whilst most of the other Grunge bands had Rock or Punk influences, Alice in Chains had an unmistakably metal sound to it. Appearing on the scene with their debut full length album Facelift in 1991; opening our ears and minds to this strange new style for many years to come.
As with any new band the first song we hear from them can often make or break our opinion of them. The opening track, ‘We Die Young,’ is certainly a very strong start for an album and a shockingly well produced song for a new band. The second track, ‘Man in the Box,’ which is often cited as being their most popular song, is an even more powerful follow up. Considered to be their best song by most fans, its often the song that newcomers to the band are told to listen to. The third track sees things slowing down a bit with ‘Sea of Sorrow’ plunging us into a track that can’t choose if it wants to be Moody or Uplifting. Alice in Chains captures this extremely well, with the track slowing down and then speeding up again at just the right times.
However, with most albums there always has to be that “one bad song.” When we arrive at the fifth track, we find the first of a few disappointing songs; with an intro that never seems to end or the repetitive cymbal beat in the background, its a forgettable track that I find myself skipping just to escape drawn out and slow boredom. Unfortunately this doesn’t tend to help as the sixth song, ‘Love, Hate, Love’ greets us by the absolute worst song on the entire album. An annoyingly bad guitar track playing for the entire ridiculous length of 6 MINUTES AND 28 SECONDS.
We do find things starting to look up again by the seventh song, ‘It Ain’t Like That,’ which manages to be slow in a good way, giving us a catchy guitar tune and chorus at a much more reasonable length of 4:38. We are met with an extremely weird introduction that sounds more suited to a stereotypical tune from a biker bar in a movie with ‘Sunshine’ which very soon evolves into an odd fusion of what feels like a country tune and a sludge metal song. With a chorus that could be repeated almost indefinitely, its a great recovery from the mediocrity of the middle of the album.
Unfortunately, ‘Put you down’ goes right back into the slow biker bar sound but takes it a little too far by including an extremely weird chorus with words that feel like they have been stretched far too long. The inclusion of “Put you down, down, down, gonna put you down, down” appearing so frequently doesn’t make me want to keep hearing this song. After this odd confusing track, we are greeted with the aptly named, ‘Confusion.’ Starting out quite weak, ‘Confusion’ takes a sudden turn when the chorus starts, shaping up to be one of the best tracks on the album overall.
‘I Know Something (bout you)’ welcomes us with what is quite possibly the absolute weirdest song that Alice in Chains has ever produced. In the spirits of being a new band and having the ability to experimentation without risks, they do succeed in making a very good, albeit strange tune. This is rather unfortunate as by the final track, ‘Real Thing’ we find a badly thought out track with an ending so bad its almost funny. Any song that ends with anybody exclaiming “Sexual Chocolate” is almost destined to be bad from the start, and this is no exception. If you are going to exclude a single song from an album when you are putting it on a computer, without a doubt, this one wouldn’t be missed if you chose to give this one a pass.
In general however, Alice in Chains’ debut is an extremely strong opener for any new band’s career. Overall, I would rate this a 7/10. What are your thoughts on this album? Discuss in the comments below.
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