Alice in Chains (album)
|Alice in Chains|
|Studio album by Alice in Chains|
|Released||November 7, 1995|
|Recorded||April–August 1995 at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle, Washington|
|Genre||Alternative metal, doom metal, grunge, sludge metal|
|Producer||Toby Wright, Alice in Chains|
|Alice in Chains chronology|
|Singles from Alice in Chains|
Alice in Chains is the self-titled third studio album by the American rock band Alice in Chains. It was released on November 7, 1995 and was the follow-up to the highly successful Dirt. As with their previous releases, the album's songs focus on heavy subject matter such as depression, isolation, drug use, anger and death. The band relies less on metallic riffs and more on melody and texturally varied arrangements, integrating some of the more delicate acoustic moods of their EPs. However, the riffs are mostly down-tuned and atonal employing a strong doom metal vibe.
Alice in Chains is the band's last studio album to feature vocalist Layne Staley before his death in 2002. It received double platinum certification from the RIAA and has sold over three million copies worldwide.
Background and recording
After the release of Jar of Flies, vocalist Layne Staley entered rehab for heroin addiction. The band had been scheduled to tour during the summer of 1994 with Metallica, Suicidal Tendencies, Danzig and Fight, but while in rehearsal for the tour, Staley began using heroin again. Staley's condition prompted the other band members to cancel all scheduled dates one day before the start of the tour, putting the band on hiatus. They were replaced by Candlebox on the tour. While Alice in Chains was on hiatus, Staley joined the "grunge supergroup" Mad Season while guitarist Jerry Cantrell worked on material originally intended for a solo album. In January 1995, Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez, and drummer Sean Kinney began jamming on Cantrell's material. In the spring of 1995, Staley was invited back to join the band. Staley said that "we started to split apart and went different ways, and we felt like we were betraying each other."
In April 1995, Alice in Chains entered Bad Animals Studio in Seattle with producer Toby Wright, who had previously worked with Corrosion of Conformity and Slayer. Few of the songs on the album had been written before the sessions began, so Cantrell's material was used as a starting point. The band would then give the demo tapes to Staley so he could write lyrics. The album was finished in August 1995. Cantrell said, "It was often depressing, and getting it done felt like pulling hair out, but it was the fucking coolest thing, and I'm glad to have gone through it. I will cherish the memory forever," while Staley added, "I'll cherish it forever, too, just because this one I can remember doing."
During the recording of the album Staley was severely addicted to heroin and was often late or absent for recording and rehearsal sessions for the album. Cantrell said "...It was a really painful session because it took so long. It was horrifying to see [Layne] in that condition. Yet, when he was cognizant, he was the sweetest, bright-eyed guy you'd ever want to meet. To be in a meeting with him and have him fall asleep in front of you was gut-wrenching."
While in the studio, a rough mix of the song "Grind" was leaked to radio, and received major airplay. On October 6, 1995, the band released the studio version of the song to radio via satellite uplink. The mockumentary, The Nona Tapes, features interview footage regarding the album.
Music and lyrics
Cantrell, in an interview around the release of the album, said, "Our music's kind of about taking something ugly and making it beautiful." With the exceptions of "Grind", "Heaven Beside You", and "Over Now", the lyrics are all written by Staley. Staley said, "I just wrote down whatever was on my mind...so a lot of the lyrics are really loose. If you asked me to sing the lyrics to probably any one of them right now, I couldn't do it. I'm not sure what they are because they're still that fresh." Staley added, "For a long time I let problems and sour relationships rule over me instead of letting the water roll off my back...I thought it was cool that I could write such dark, depressing music. But then instead of being therapeutic, it was starting to drag on and keep hurting. This time I just felt, 'Fuck it. I can write good music, and if I feel easy and I feel like laughing, I can laugh.' There's no huge, deep message in any of the songs. It was just what was going on in my head right then. We had good times, and we had bad times. We recorded a few months of being human."
Of the album's four singles, "Grind", "Heaven Beside You", "Over Now", and "Again", three feature Cantrell on lead vocals. Cantrell also wrote the lyrics for the songs for which he sang lead vocals. Regarding "Grind", Cantrell said it was written at "pretty much at the height of publicity about canceled tours, heroin, amputations, everything, thus it was another 'FUCK YOU for saying something about my life' song." "Heaven Beside You" was written by Cantrell after the break-up of his girlfriend of seven years. He described the song as "Another attempt to reconcile the fact that my life and paths are tearing me apart from the person I love." Commenting on "Over Now", Cantrell said of the song: "A lot of deep shit in there, a big epic number. Plus you can get away with a hugely long tune near the end of a record."
Release and reception
|Entertainment Weekly||C link|
|The New York Times||favorable|
Although not as successful as Dirt, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and has since been certified double platinum. The band opted not to tour in support of Alice in Chains, adding to the rumors of drug abuse. When asked about the frustration of not touring to support the record, Cantrell provided some insight into how Staley's addictions led to repercussive tensions within the band: "Very frustrating, but we stuck it out. We rode the good times together, and we stuck together through the hard times. We never stabbed each other in the back and spilled our guts and do that kind of bullshit that you see happen a lot."
It was noted for being a break away from the externally applied grunge label affixed to the group. Rolling Stone described the album as a "musical rebirth," and The New York Times remarked that in contrast to the raw distortions associated with grunge, Alice in Chains' sound was "cleanly delineated and meticulously layered." Jon Wiederhorn of Rolling Stone called the album "liberating and enlightening, the songs achieve a startling, staggering and palpable impact."
Bill Adams of Ground Control Magazine, reviewing Alice in Chains discography wrote "If indeed Jar of Flies turned out to be the gateway that got so many more people hooked on Alice in Chains, it can only be said that the band's self-titled album implies withdrawals or a sense of significant unease or discomfort. The signs that something is just not right appear everywhere both on and in Alice in Chains; the front cover features a photo of a three-legged dog (one too few) while the back cover presents a picture of a three-legged mandolinist (one too many). The album's liner notes feature images of ghastly, contorted fairies with no flesh on their arms, sinister, personified bottles swimming through black oceans, cartoons of mutant animals standing on trial, synthetic limbs and more. They are images of turmoil, disease and discomfort, and it's difficult to look at them."
Alice in Chains included the singles "Grind", "Heaven Beside You", and "Again", all of which had accompanying music videos. "Grind" and "Again" were nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1996 and 1997, respectively. The music video for "Again" was nominated for Best Hard Rock Video at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards.
Packaging and title
The album is also known informally as "Tripod" or "Three-Legged Dog Album" due to a three-legged dog on the front cover and Frank Lentini on the back. The compact disc was initially available in three versions: one with a transparent purple jewel case with a translucent yellow-green spine, one with the color scheme reversed and a monochrome version. The purple jewel case is currently out of print and the yellow-green edition is now a rarity. The cassette edition features a transparent purple cassette or transparent yellow-green case. It was also released on double vinyl with a purple label on the A-side and a yellow-green label on the B-side of both discs. Disc 1 featured tracks 1-6, disc 2 featured tracks 7-12 and both discs had 3 tracks per side.
All lyrics written by Layne Staley, except where noted.
|2.||"Brush Away"||Cantrell, Mike Inez, Sean Kinney||3:22|
|3.||"Sludge Factory"||Cantrell, Kinney||7:12|
|4.||"Heaven Beside You"||Cantrell||Cantrell, Inez||5:27|
|7.||"Shame in You"||Cantrell, Inez, Kinney||5:35|
|8.||"God Am"||Cantrell, Inez, Kinney||4:08|
|9.||"So Close"||Cantrell, Kinney||2:45|
|10.||"Nothin' Song"||Cantrell, Kinney||5:40|
|11.||"Frogs"||Cantrell, Inez, Kinney||8:18|
|12.||"Over Now" ([†])||Cantrell||Cantrell, Kinney||7:03|
- Japanese bonus tracks
All lyrics written by Staley, all music composed by Cantrell.
|13.||"Again (Tattoo of Pain Mix)"||4:03|
|14.||"Again (Jungle Mix)" (Also known as Club Mix)||4:08|
|Australian ARIA Charts||5|
|Finnish Albums Chart||13|
|German Albums Chart||93|
|Netherlands Albums Chart||75|
|New Zealand Albums Chart||28|
|Norwegian Albums Chart||11|
|Swedish Albums Chart||11|
|UK Albums Chart||37|
|US Billboard 200||1|
|1996||"Heaven Beside You"[I]||52||3||6||35|
- I^ Did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100; peak chart position represents Billboard Hot 100 Airplay data.
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