Album Review: Alice in Chains, "Dirt"

Dirt is a wigged out eruption of riff-heavy psychedelia that is fleetingly reminiscent of a more pissed-off Kings X, focused through the pained, brooding vocals of Layne Staley.

While this approach gels effectively on songs like Rain When I Die, the downside is that Dirt also lapses into hazy, blurred trips, as in Dam That River, or builds dense, claustrophobic walls of sound a la God Smack. Where they're more convincing is when they allow for a little sweetness and light to counterpoint the aggression and meandering introspection. The finest examples of this are Down in a Hole, which fuses lilting 60s-influenced harmonies with a raging melody, and the almost anthemic Would? Haunted by the ghosts of the 60s and fuelled by 90s angst, Dirt is far from a knock-out, but it still packs a powerful punch. Grade B+

Mark Liddell
Riff Raff
May, 1993

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