20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
The First Album To Truly Scare Me,
This review is from: Jar Of Flies/Sap (Audio CD)
After producing 2 albums of pure straight out turgid, pain-filled, angsty heavy metal, you could tell something even more sublime was going to land. And nothing this quiet and somber has ever hit quite so hard. Written and recorded in about a week, Jar Of Flies is the Alice In Chains acoustic master-piece.
This is certainly a late night, nothing is right album. For a start, the typical 60's style vocal harmonies on opener, 'Rotten Apple', are even more spine-tingling in this mode and mood than ever, the guitar on highlight, 'Nutshell' is enough to make the most sober mind think twice, and the guitar solo and lyrics can only be called spine-tingling. It's quite unusual that the least-good of the tracks are the singles. 'I Stay Away' and 'No Excuses' are still acoustic master-pieces, but still somewhat lack in comparison to some of the album tracks, despite the lovely string arrangements on 'I Stay Away'...'Whale And Whasp' is a fine example of how to do an instrumental right, and doesn't become boring like some do, while the Jerry Cantrell sung, 'Don't Follow' is one of the main highlights on the CD, not changing the pace but forever changing your mind. The only real change of pace of the entire CD, is the final track, the almost arrogant sounding, 'Swing On This', which is a nice change of pace, although not by much, but it's there to keep the suspense up. And it's certainly full of that. One of the most disturbing records I've ever heard. Close the windows, lock the doors, sit down, don't look at the rain splashed windows and consider everything you could have done differently, but don't forget to flick this on lowly in the background darkness...
Sap, although still an acoustic album is an entirely different kettle of fish. It's not quite as mature and 'all there' as 'Jar Of Flies', but it certainly can I have similar impact. Opener 'Brother' is as low and reflective as anything from JOF, with lyrics that you can tell were written some time ago, due to the 'not quite perfect' Alice In Chains lyrical style, and the fact that these seemed like big demons indeed...'Got Me Wrong' another story of mixed feelings in relationships, is straight from Cantrell's heart and guitar, 'Right Turn' includes Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell adding to this song, but never doing anything for it. This is basically an album that shows where they were, and when you heard Jar Of Flies, you find where they've ended up. And that's one of the premier hard rock bands of the nineties, if not ever, with a rare and successful sensitive side. And that's so very rare and refreshing, that this immediatly becomes an essential purchase, if not one that should be locked away and should only come out on those times where nothing wants to go right.