4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Some crazy, weird, heavy stuff,
This review is from: Alice In Chains (Audio CD)
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.