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VINE VOICEon 25 December 2006
After creating a surge of fine albums in the 90s with the almost perfect tour-de-force of grunge - 1992's "Dirt" - and one of the most touching EPs I've ever heard - 1994's "Jar of Flies" - AIC's final output before Staley's death was this self-titled album, AKA "Tripod".

"Tripod" never really got the acclaim akin to "Dirt", although certain tracks got a deal of airtime such as the dingy Heaven Beside You, it is rather underrated in the grunge era. However, I feel it does lack the consistency of "Dirt" and at times feels a little bloated, but then it also contains some of AIC's finest work and has a very unique eerie feel to it, as it is the final works before the tragedy.

The opening two tracks kick things off in typical AIC grunge style. Grind has a menacing sluggish riff combined with an infectious chorus melody, a trademark of AIC at their best, and Brush Away is probably my favorite of the more straightforward rockers on the album with its stellar guitar interplaying from Cantrell and Staley's desperate cries of `I gotta get away...And brush away loose ground'. The vibes of anguish and depression are continued and multiplied tenfold by the punishing Sludge Factory, which feels like, well...sludge. This is the pinnacle of the album, and definitely up there with AIC's best achievements. The band bludgeon their way through the 7 minute entirety with huge walls of down-tuned guitars and one of Staley's best ever performances, his delivery is full of such deep frustration and anguish it is genuinely touching. Heaven Beside You then adds a different angle on the depressive and gloomy atmosphere, replacing the crushing chords with delicate acoustic playing (and yes, the odd strum of a power chord, naturally) and a rather desolate and detached vocal performance from Cantrell and Staley, both adopting an almost `laid back' style which works very well. After this break from the booming guitars, albeit a very emotional and intense break, Head Creeps opens with a bang, big guitars and distorted vocals from Layne, a fantastic opening.

The rest of the album is not quite as heavy, with the exception of God Am and So Close, both solid rockers, tracks such as Shame In You, Frogs and Over Now are slower and stripped of the powerful guitars. Shame In You is the first sign of a `happy' vibe, although it is quite open to interpretation, it could either be taken as a rare glimpse of sunshine or as a desolate, `given up' type ballad. The two closing tracks, which the band also use to close out the "Unplugged" session are both very touching and hold that eerie feeling I mentioned earlier - the feeling of the tragedy that followed the album.

Overall this is a fine piece of 90s grunge music, portraying a band that while not on their peak, can still create some fine music and with a vocalist like Layne Staley, there is a heavy emotional aspect, emphasised by his death which followed the album.
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on 10 July 2009

This is Alice's most complex and atmospheric album and my personal favourite.

Songs such as the opener, 'Grind' and 'Sludge Factory' will melt your face, whereas as the haunting 'Head Creeps' (one of AIC's best!) and 'Frogs' just leaving you feeling uneasy and, in my opinion, this is when Alice In Chains are at their very best.

I can see how people could find it inaccessable; there aren't any 3 minute headbangers on here, but give it a chance to sink in - this one's a MONSTER.
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on 5 November 2009
Alice were always about dark, but the Tripod album is a strong contender for their most bleakly disorientating of all. Musically it captures the dissonant landscape of a damaged psyche perhaps even better than Dirt's howl of rage or Jar of Flies late night solitude. Like a good David Lynch film or Kafka story it takes you to places simultaneously fascinating and repulsive, oblique and captivating.

For starters, Grind immediately reasserts their ability to write a thunderous, hooky rock track. Brush Away is similarly face-melting. From there, however, things become more complex. Much of the album is weird, trippy, and bordering on the psychedelic. Sludge Factory progresses from a punishing downtuned riff to what sounds like Jerry Cantrell playing a solo on a guitar with slack, loosened strings, to Layne Staley reciting a muddle of non-sequiters in the voice of a robot. By the time it's seven minutes are up, you start to suspect someone might have sipped something into your drink. Similarly, after 8 minutes of stark acoustic picking and seasick guitar lines, Frogs ends with Staley murmuring and shouting like a man laid out after ingesting one too many questionable substances, over a nest of guitar and feedback.

Heaven Beside You and Over Now take a cue from the bands two excellent acoustic eps, and are starkly intimate and raw. Again and Nothin' Song make full use of the bizarre, shiver inducing harmonics with which the band pepper their louder than hell riffage. Shame in You is epic, and one of my favourite songs by the band.

Staley was apparently severely struggling with drugs by this stage, and Cantrell steps in on lead vocals on several tracks. But when Staley does appear, his commitment seems without question. When he intones "now the body of one soul I adore wants to die", or "innocence spins cold cocoon, grow to see the pain too soon" you can taste the bitterly won experience. His performances here also capture the maniacal mischief and weirdness that made him such a compelling frontman, and have left William Duvall with some big boots to fill.
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on 5 January 2001
Alice In Chains have come a long way since the 1990 Facelift. Every album by these amazingly talented 4 men from Seattle gets better than the last. Dirt (1992) in my view is probably one of THE best rock albums yet. AIC are very hard to classify, i suppose they could be called grunge as they are part of the small group of bands from Seattle that are grunge. These are Nirvana, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, and so on. Layne Staley can do things with his voice that most vocalists would kill for. He is a great singer and has so much emotion, he gets this accross very well. Jerry Cantrell's riffs are just amazing and have the tone and quality that only AIC can give. Mike Starr and later Mike Inez (recently in Slash's snakepit) are both unbelievable bassists. Then there is Sean Kinney on drums who is just one of the best technical drummers around. This album, nicknamed TRIPOD for obvious reasons has the best collection of songs ranging from all areas of the bands Pshyche. From dark songs to light half-comedy songs. "Heaven Beside You" and "Grind" are the real stand out tracks, but the album as a whole cannot be beaten. This is the most expressive and also the last studio album alice did before they stopped recording (for now). My choice would be buy now ask questions later.
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on 21 December 2008
Alice in Chains were never a happy, pop band, and their final album (not counting the acoustic one-off mtv unplugged album) really re-enforces this.

Alice in Chains' last studio album is, at first listen, a album drowned in the sludgiest and layered guitar work and layne staley's uniquely dark vocals cutting straight through the top. Some songs are a lot more ear-friendly (such as the single 'again'), while some are downright creepy and seem to be drowning in depression (such as 'head creeps'). This entire album is what the band and especially layne staley was going through at the time: Staley was destroying himself with drugs and the rest of the bad was falling apart due to the lack of a consistent frontman - the songs lyrics are not in-your-face about drug abuse and overdose, but several songs definately sound it.

You can't really describe this album as everything that it is contradicts itself - its a melodic, dischordant, dissonant and beautiful masterpiece - some may argue that 1992's 'dirt' is better, but i would definately say that alice in chains' last studio effort is superior; it is very different from song to song but while it lacks consistency in that way, it is definately an amazing album when listened to from start to finish - there isn't a weak song on it.
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on 27 October 2013
I really wanted to love this album, but aside from a few obvious highlights such as 'Grind', 'Brush Away' and 'Heaven Beside You', i'd say that it's nowhere near as good as 'Facelift', 'Dirt' or 'Jar Of Flies/Sap'. The problem for me is not the material, more that as a whole 'Alice In Chains' is a tough listen. It's a very dark and murky sounding album but my biggest regret is that Layne Staley's once mighty voice is already clearly shot. The fact that his vocals are layered with different effects, and that Jerry Cantrell had to take the lead on a few songs is the biggest giveaway. It's a shame that Alice In Chains final studio album with Layne was easily their weakest, yet it's still better than what most of the bands who followed in their wake were capable of.
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on 12 November 2006
The third full length album from the grunge gods Alice in Chains is definatley the heaviest and darkest of their releases. The album relies more on texture and dual guitar riffs than it's Predecessors and this creates a more a more interesting and diverse listening experience, the album is incredibly well produced and this does the more complex sound justice. The album is packed full of sludge grinding riffs but also some pleasant balladry in the form of heavan beside you and over now. Unfortunatley for those who don't like their music depressing i would advise not buying this album because it never fails to depress (in the best kind of way!!!). All in all this is an amazing album and is definatley worth buying.

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on 26 September 2007
after having 'Facelift', 'Dirt' and their 'Live' album for some time i decided to purchase 'Alice in Chains', their third album. To me it is one of those albums that are so dark and drenched in emotion that u totally feel what the band was like at the time of this recording. Staley was of course seriously deep into addiction and i think this truly reflects on the feeling of the songs. 'Again', 'Shame In You' and 'Over Now' are my favourites, the latter being a truly depressing yet strangely uplifting song. I recommend you buy it after you buy their first two albums 'Facelift' and the beautifully dark 'Dirt'...this album is very very dark but beautiful at the same time. Alice in Chains fooking rock!
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on 10 February 2014
By 1995 despite a restbite with Mad Season, Layne Staley was in the deep throres of heroin addiction once again. Kerrang once wrote on the Mad Season album that the record was of a bunch of guys growing too old before their time. They were wrong. But on this AIC record, Layne Staley's final proper studio record (not counting Music Bank) he was at age 28 a man that Kerrang had described.

AIC's self titled album, known to fans as Tripod is one heavy record. Not heavy in the Pantera sense, but heavy in how it can leave you feeling. It didn't help that the record was released in the winter- but if you're life isn't together or you're feeling down, I would say avoid this. There are no upbeat songs.

My favourite track by a country mile is Head Creeps. The critics at the time got all excited over Heaven Beside You- especially the NME who hated the band, and who I presume totally forgot about the lighter side of AIC with Jar of Flies etc. But Heaven Beside You is so bleak that it isn't easy to get into. It's also ruined by an unnessasary added verse. Grind was the first single off the record and is to be fair standard generic music- at least for this band. Brush Away, sounds different and rolls along just fine. Sludge Factory is a great song- repeated listens do reward.

Again was another single, but who knows why? Shame In You ends beautifully and God Am has a deadly riff. So Close and Nothin' Song are perhaps the very worst songs AIC have ever written. Frogs is major depressing, but eeriely effective and the album is rounded up with the unspectacular Over Now- a cold soulless song.

And that's it this is a cold album. You get the feeling of just sticking on Facelift right after this. To remind yourself of how happy this band were before all the crap took place and took the bands best songs and soul with it.

Still what a band- one of the great rock bands- and perhaps finest to come out of Seattle.
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on 2 March 2008
A lot of people overlook AIC's music because they hear it once and think it sounds like a depressing racket and don't seem to see just how incredibly beautiful some of the harmonies and melodies are. I love the darkness that this album has and there's something almost hypnotic about it (probably all the drug influences) that somehow compells you to listen to it all over again. Album highlights for me are Grind, Sludge Factory, Heaven beside you and Frogs, but almost every song is excellent. In my opinion, this is second best only to Jar of flies.
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