Year 6, Day 36: Ten Thousand Fists in the Air Tonight.

Year 6, Day 36: Disturbed – Ten Thousand Fists

Track List

  1. Ten Thousand Fists
  2. Just Stop
  3. Guarded
  4. Deify
  5. Stricken
  6. I’m Alive
  7. Sons of Plunder
  8. Overburdened
  9. Decadence
  10. Forgiven
  11. Land of Confusion (Genesis cover)
  12. Sacred Lie
  13. Pain Redefined
  14. Avarice

About the Album

Ten Thousand Fists is the second studio album from American heavy metal band, Disturbed. The album released on September 20th 2005 through Reprise Records. The album peaked at number on the Billboard 200 and is certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Thoughts on the Album

There is power in numbers. Strength en masse. It has to be something to be a member of a band or a musical artists and see thousands upon thousands of people all united, fists in the air, rocking out to your stuff. That’s Disturbed‘s brand of heavy metal/nu-metal. It’s designed to unite everyone and exhilarate the masses. One of the first songs I heard by Disturbed was Ten Thousand Fists. I heard while play Madden 06 and I immediately thought… “I need to hear to more.” I bought the album, much to my old man’s chagrin. He’s not a huge fan of metal, unless it’s the 1980’s hair metal stylings.

You can say what you want about about Disturbed but you can not deny that Ten Thousand Fists is a great but uneven album. What the album does have is frontman David Draiman‘s best vocal work. He seamlessly and flawless blends together his screaming and singing as to not get too annoying and detract from the rest of the music. Songs like the titular track highlight his singing as well as tracks like Deify, Sacred Lie, and Forgiven. Take Deify, a political metal anthem that highlighted the band’s thoughts on then President George W. Bush and the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This also noted on in Sacred Lie as well. If there was a message to seen/heard from this album, it’s that the band is trying to make a positive impact and change in the country as well as explaining their viewpoints on the wars in lyrical and poetic format.

Single, Stricken, was a massive hit and highlights some of the band’s best work. There is good reason for why this song was a massive hit. The chorus of the song shows off Draiman‘s harsh, but clean, and powerful vocal prowess. The main riff is instantly recognizable as well as a riff that is extremely fun to learn how to play. The guitars and vocals seemingly play of each other, perfectly harmonizing with each other. That’s a sign of an amazing song: when guitars and vocals can harmonize together. The vocals, guitar, and bass give off an epic vibe to them. Then there’s Overburdened, a six-plus minute, slow burning exploration of progressive metal. It’s one of the band’s best songs, blending together both clean and “dirty” guitar riffs and that menacing bass work/ It all comes to a head with the massive and excellent climax in the outro.

Then there is of course, my favorite track from the album, the album opener and title track, Ten Thousand Fists. A track that takes some electronic elements and uses them at the beginning to make it feel like you are sitting on a battlefield, waiting for the two armies to charge at each other. The track is a complete and total audible adrenaline rush. If you were to put the movie Die Hard into a song, this would the product. A total dynamo of a track that is fueled by pure, raw, unadulterated energy. The drums pound away with earthquaking ferocity. The crunchy and punchy guitar riffs and bass lines send out sonic shockwaves. Draiman’s vocals are awesome here.

Conclusion

While the filler in this album hurts it just a bit, some of the band’s best work is featured here. Ten Thousand FistsDeifyForgiven, Land of Confusion, and Stricken are absolute gems. Frontman David Draiman is at his best with his harsh and clean vocals powering the album. So grab your brothers-in-arms (or sisters-in-arms)  and raises your fists, as Ten Thousand Fists will give you the adrenaline, exhilaration, and unity you need. One last thing:

If this disturbs you, then walk away

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Year 6, Day 32: Linkin Park’s Empowering Debut… “Hybrid Theory”

Year 6, Day 32: Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory

Track List

  1. Papercut
  2. One Step Closer
  3. With You
  4. Points of Authority
  5. Crawling
  6. Runaway
  7. By Myself
  8. In the End
  9. A Place For My Head
  10. Forgotten
  11. Cure for the Itch
  12. Pushing Me Away

About the Album

Hybrid Theory is the debut album from American rock band, Linkin Park. The album was recorded from March 2000 through July 2000 and released on October 24th 2000 through Warner Brother Records. The album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 and is certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America with well over 11+ million albums sold in the United States of America alone. The album is ranked number eleven in Billboard‘s Top 200 albums of the decade (2000-2009). Single In the End peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, number 1 on Billboard‘s Top Alternative Songs (Modern Rock), and number three on Billboard‘s Top Mainstream Rock Songs.

Thoughts on the Album

Man, it comes back to me… in the end. And in the end, it doesn’t even matter. Every once in a while, there comes a band or an album that changes and challenges the perceptions of a music genre.Now then, whether or not that band or album is original depends, but however, there are always bands that produce the same exact ideas that never make the mainstream. Now then, for a #ThrowbackThursday (#TBT), let us travel back in time to 2000. It’s the new millennium (technically a.k.a. mathematically speaking the year 2000 wasn’t, but let’s just go along with it) and the radio airwaves are a mess. Dominated by grunge, alternative rock, bubblegum/boy band pop, and rap, the airwaves are crowded. The clock had struck midnight and it was time for something new. Enter Linkin Park and the debut album Hybrid Theory.

Hybrid Theory blurred the lines of many genres, but no more than rap and rock, taking rock elements like guitars and drums and fusing them with a DJ and electronic beats. What we got was an album that landed at the right place and right time in music history and skyrocketed off the charts in meteoric fashion. The album itself is not just one of the top selling debut albums of all time, but top selling albums of the last decade (2000-2009). It was one of the first albums I ever owned and one the first albums my dad called “noise pollution”. One of the biggest things about Linkin Park is just how accessible they really are, steering away from most profanity. The single One Step Closer drove the band into the mainstream, showing off it’s metal chops with that unmistakable and unforgettable guitar riff in the introduction of the song. Then, the rap/hip hop elements enter help build the song into a climax where the band jams out as if it was just a regular rock band. The verses have an ebb-and-flow to them, building up then coming back down after the chorus. It’s the late Chester Bennington‘s screams that highlight the explosive chorus. A perfect song to choose as the lead single, showing off catchy guitar riffs and the clear screams of Bennington.

However, it is because of one song that this album had such a launch. The fourth single, In the End. It’s a slower tempo tune, but man oh man, is it awesome. That haunting piano introduction sets the tone with some sparse electronic elements mixed in for some flair before Bennington sings out…

It starts with one…

Mike Shinoda enters with rapping verses as electronic drum beats keep pace. But it’s the chorus where the song comes back into the rock realm when the live drums and power chords enter. That chorus though. It’s one of the best choruses I’ve ever heard. It’s one that I love to sing along to. It’s so damn infectious that I don’t even think a vaccine could prevent it from infecting you. It’s a track whose strength is being able to switch back and forth between the two realms of hip hop/rap and rock and roll.

Quick hits: Crawling is a hell of a song. Not on the same scale as One Step Closer or In the End, it still hit home. I’m one of those people that gets emotionally invested in the music I listen to. The instrumentals are strong and sharp and Bennington‘s vocals take the main stage. Papercut is the album opener and shows off the nu-metal, rap-metal, rap rock right off the band combining the guitar riffs with electronic elements. Here, Shinoda takes front and center on vocals with Bennington harmonizing.

Conclusion

Hybrid Theory is an atmospheric and ethereal album that is one of the greatest albums of the last decade. Hell, even most music critics and experts agree with that. But what Linkin Park did with Hybrid Theory, was they created an album that kids and teenagers could resonate with. An album that empowered an entire generation of pre-teens and teenagers. It’s an album that allowed kids and teens to know that what they are/were feeling, was okay. It allowed those kids and teens who were alienated to take solace in the creams and heavy power chords. And that my friends, may be the answer to why this album did so excellently and continues to do so.

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Year 6, Day 25: Driving through “Bat Country” with Avenged Sevenfold

Year 6, Day 25: Avenged Sevenfold – City of Evil

Track List

  1. Beast and the Harlot
  2. Burn it Down
  3. Blinded in Chains
  4. Bat Country
  5. Thrashed and Scattered
  6. Seize the Day
  7. Sidewinder
  8. The Wicked End
  9. Strength of the World
  10. Betrayed
  11. M.I.A.

About the Album

City of Evil, is the third studio album from American heavy metal band, Avenged Sevenfold. The album was released on June 7th 2005 through Warner Brothers Records. The album debuted at number thirty on the Billboard 200 and is also certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Single from the album, Bat Country, is certified gold by the RIAA as well.

Thoughts on the Album

There is a famous line from the Hunter S. Thompson novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that reads…

We can’t stop here, this is Bat Country.

Well there’s actually a few quotes we’ll be discussion from that novel that come up in Avenged Sevenfold‘s 2005 album, City of EvilBut first, hey there. TI remember when I first bought this album in 2005, I remember by dad freaking out that I was going to become a Satanist or some bullshit like that. He did the same when I bought Iron Maiden‘s Number of the Beast. I think it was more the album covers that did it for him. But whatever, that’s old news.

Moving on, today’s album is the 2005 release from Avenged SevenfoldCity of Evil. Gone are the band’s earlier metalcore sound and screamo elements and in are more steady, consistent, and cohesive elements. City of Evil is a relentless musical assault on the senses, which is spearheaded by the guitar tandem of Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance. This tandem shows off just off effective its muscle is on tracks like Burn it Down and Trashed and Scattered. These two highlight the nuclear power this album has. And it’s throughout this album where Gates and Vengeance often take the spotlight and center stage with some incredibly solid rhythms and flashy leads. But backing them up is powerful and ferocious drumming of The Rev and the basslines of Johnny ChristBurn it Down highlights Gates‘ new found love for guitar harmonies and incredible solos. Gates’ leads play such a huge role in developing the mood/atmosphere for a song and their versatility make them easily adaptable to cut on a dime. This versatility of his leads can be found on tracks like The Wicked Man and Sidewinder as well as more aggressive tracks like Trashed and Scattered or Blinded in Chains. The enhanced efforts of Synyster Gates really improves and guides the overall direction of the songs on this album.

The album shines on tracks seven, eight, and nine; Sidewinder, The Wicked Man, and Strength of the World. All three tracks contain some more experimental elements than other tracks. There’s the flamenco/classical guitar that permeates the ending of Sidewinder. Or there’s the orchestral and choir parts on The Wicked Man. Or the hauntingly violent and acoustic elements of the first few minutes of Strength of the World. These three tracks represent the band at their most creative. City of Evil fluctuates tempo and styles throughout the album. From fast paced and aggressive numbers like Burn it Down and Trashed and Scattered to more mid-tempo numbers like Blinded in Chains to slower tempo power ballads like Seize the Day. Despite the length of some of the song, with some over six minutes long, none of them lose their sheen or luster. I’ve noticed something with Avenged Sevenfold, they know how to write a long song and make it so cot damn enjoyable.

Some quick hits. City of Evil leads off with the second single, The Beast and the Harlot, a song about the apocalypse… well the one talked about in Revelation 17. The song starts off with a ferocious guitar solo and some piano effects. What stands out the most is that the verses are dark and gloomy, but the chorus is oddly uplifting(?). I mean that’s the best way I can put it. Here Gates and Vengeance put on display for the first time their masterful ability to harmonize on guitar. The there’s the first single, Bat Country, whose title is an ode to the line from Hunter S. Thompson‘s novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: “We can’t stop here, this is bat country!” The song is lyrically about the novel, borrowing a few different lines including this one:

He who makes a beast out of himself, gets rid of the pain of being a man.

Or the final line:

Too weird to live and much too rare to die.

Bat Country has one of best guitar solos on the album.

Conclusion

I remember this was one of the few CDs I actually bought a second copy of, because I burned right through my original copy. It received some pretty good play from me. City of Evil is still one of the premier metal albums of the last decade. It’s hooks and riffs are impressively catchy. The instrumentation has the right amount of heaviness and technicality as to not distract the listener from the rest of the music. While not prominent or almost audible in some pieces throughout the album, Johnny Christ‘s basslines are fantastic. The Rev‘s drumming is excellent. And the dueling guitar harmonies and melodies from Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance are awesome. The vocals from M.Shadows are crisp, sharp, and loud… but gone are the screams. Avenged Sevenfold takes their metal, makes it more accessible, but more enjoyable in the same process.

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Year 6, Day 16: The Science of Partying (and Living) with Prof. Andrew W.K.

Year 6, Day 16: Andrew W.K. – You’re Not Alone

Track List

  1. The Power of Partying
  2. Music Is Worth Living For
  3. Ever Again
  4. I Don’t Know Anything
  5. The Feeling of Being Alive
  6. The Party Mindset
  7. The Party Never Dies
  8. Give Up on You
  9. Keep on Going
  10. In Your Darkest Moments
  11. The Devil’s on Your Side
  12. Break the Curse
  13. Total Freedom
  14. Beyond Oblivion
  15. Confusion and Clarity
  16. You’re Not Alone

About the Album

You’re Not Alone is the fifth studio album from American musician, Andrew W.K. and is also his first album in 12 years. The album was released on March 2nd, 2018 through Sony Music.

Thoughts on the Album

Today’s lesson is on how to party and overcome the weights of the world and all of life’s demons and troubles. Here with us today to teach this class is our special guest instructor, Professor Andrew W.K. who brought along with him his newest album You’re Not AloneHow new is his album you may ask? So new, the CD is fresh off the stack and into the case. The self-proclaimed, King of Partying, Andrew W.K. has returned and given us 16 pretty amazing tracks. I once called Andrew W.K.‘s style of music as “TYPINGENTIRELYINALLCAPSANDWITHOUTANYSPACES!!!” or basically it’s in the style of Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters‘ vocal bridge on their song Monkey Wrench. It’s a style that is all about partying. It’s loud, in-your-face, obnoxious, simple, stupidly clever. I forgot the most important traits about his style of music: it’s straightforward, fun, and at some or most points uplifting.

You’re Not Alone is a sprawling album that shift your mood, uplift your spirit, and even cause some reflection on yourself. Side note, when I say “sprawling” I mean it. It’s 16 tracks and comes in just shy of one hour in length (roughly 53 minutes). Don’t let that dissuade you from listening. Each of the 16 tracks found on this album are just about as valiant as the album cover art work; and it’s pretty damn impressive.

Of course the album starts with the word “party”. I mean, why not? The album’s opens with the atmospheric The Power of Partying. It’s a 96 second burst of atmospheric symphonic sound, that is reminiscent of The Final Countdown or the jingle for 21st Century FOX Studios before a movie starts. From there it’s goes into the synth charged Music is Worth Living For. Think of it this way: if Music is Worth Living For is the actual party starting, The Power of Party is the pregame. Music is Worth Living For kicks this rager into high gear with it’s jumpy and shiny synth riffs and over-the-top power chords and high falsetto backing vocals. It’s… it’s… simply over the top, and what many who have listened to Andrew W.K. before have come to expect.

One of my favorite parts of the album is the one-two punch of The Party Mindset and The Party Never Dies. It’s an brilliant one-two punch that is reminiscent of the 2008 Phillies three-four combo of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Both hit home runs with power balladry and anthemic reckless abandon.  Their lyrics are simple, easy to understand and convey some pretty damn good feelings. There is the other single, Ever Again, which comes to the plate after Music is Worth Living For, which just builds off of it’s predecessor. Both Music is Worth Living For and Ever Again highlight Andrew W.K.‘s trademark melodic sound.

The album ventures into spoken word with The Feeling of Being Alive, In Your Darkest Moments, and Confusion and Clarity. These spoken word tracks serve as breathers in between the party. They are pretty damn therapeutic too. They are sincere reminders to embrace your inadequacies, fears, or feeling of unease. I will say this: for all of the over-the-top and grandiose sound and music of You’re Not AloneAndrew W.K. hides his songwriting talents extremely well. Look no further than on The Devil’s on Your Side. It’s incredibly powerful. It’s got that classic rock “bombasticness” to it. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Give Up on You. Holy crap. It’s like W.K. fused his melodic sound with Meatloaf‘s power balladry. From the twinkling and screaming organ at the start, you know it’s going to be a theatrical masterpiece. And when that guitar solo hits, oh man, does it go from theatrical masterpiece to just absolutely epic.

Conclusion

While I believe You’re Not Alone could be trimmed down, I don’t think it would be quite and grandiose and epic. If you went into this album thinking you were going to get a “thinking man’s album”, you’ll be disappointed. What we have here is 16 party anthems. It’s loud. It’s over-the-top. It’s grandiose and epic. You’re Not Alone delivers that feeling of party and of uplifting one’s spirit. In an era of social and political toxicity, Andrew W.K.‘s messages of joy and inclusiveness are excellent and much needed. This an album that has the listener always come out as a hero that overcomes trials, life-changing experiences, or overcoming those fears and anxieties, in the only way that Andrew W.K. would have it: by partying… after crushing a walk-grand slam in the bottom of the ninth to win the World Series.

I’ll leave you with what he says on Confusion and Clarity, the last of the three spoken word tracks…

We must never lose sight of the parts of life that we’re absolutely clear about, the parts of life that bring us reliable and undeniable joy.

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Year 6, Day 11: Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins. Homer Simpson, smiling politely.

Year 6, Day 11: Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

Track Listing

  1. Cherub Rock
  2. Quiet
  3. Today
  4. Hummer
  5. Rocket
  6. Disarm
  7. Soma
  8. Geek U.S.A.
  9. Mayonaise
  10. Spaceboy
  11. Silverfuck
  12. Luna

About the Album

Siamese Dream is the second studio album from alternative rock pioneers, The Smashing Pumpkins. Recorded from December 1992 through April 1993, the album was released on July 27th 1993 on Virgin Records. The album debuted at number ten on Billboard 200 and has sold well north of 4+ million copies in the United States alone, with over six million being sold worldwide. The album is certified 4x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Thoughts on the Album

It’s day eleven here at the Sounds of Broad Street and we’re busting out the big bats for it. Let’s discuss one of the biggest albums from the early 1990’s. The Smashing Pumpkins were one of the biggest and best bands of the 1990’s. They gave rise to both college rock and alternative rock, more so the latter, alternative rock. 1993’s Siamese Dream is one of the catalysts for this rise. A behemoth of album, with it’s twelve songs combining for almost 63 minutes of music. With the help of acclaimed producer, Butch VigThe Smashing Pumpkins created a massive record that is arguably one of the best albums of the decade, sans a few.

Siamese Dream is infamously known for it’s massive layers of guitar tracks (at least 27 per song), no more evidenced on lead single and album opener, Cherub RockCherub Rock is arguably one of the songs that fine both musical genre and the decade, begins more like relentless and soaring Queen song that anything else. Billy Corgan‘s nasally and snarling voice carries the song through the restless oceans of sonic noise. Cherub Rock has one of the most famous introductions with the snare drum fills. That’s how you know it’s about kick off. The song is basically one giant middle finger to both hipsters and his critics who thought he was too pretentious. I know I describe songs as “perfect”, but this one truly is perfect. From the snare drum fill to open the album, the clashing and multilayered guitar tracks, right down to Corgan‘s voice.

But it’s not just Cherub Rock, it’s the entire album. An album that has tracks that push the limits, lines, and boundaries of genres without deviating too far from the album’s center themes. You’ll find on tracks like Cherub Rock, Geek U.S.A., and (the ironically titled) Quiet, that there is heavy aggression to be found. The aggression on those tracks push the limit without deviating to far from the overall sound of the album. Quiet gets introduced by muddled guitar slides that resemble two cars drag racing. However the cars are driven by Corgan‘s angsty vocals.

Every song’s style fits perfectly with the mood and lyrics it contains; Disarm is a perfect example of this. It is a beautifully melancholy and vulnerable acoustic and symphonic ballad that where Corgan waxes on about the negative aspects of his childhood and his parents. One of the key elements that propels this album to greatness is just how well it handles it’s influences. Some of the major influences found on this album lie in 1970’s rock and dream pop, especially from bands like Queen and My Bloody Valentine. It’s this blend of old influences with new songs that makes this an enthralling album to listen to. Soma, a very dreamlike alternative rock ballad probably paved the way for many a late-90’s Radiohead song. However, the wrench is thrown with some absolutely brilliant and gorgeous multilayered guitar work in the middle of the track that hearkens back to some of operatic guitar melodies that Queen‘s Brian May had written. Spaceboy, a mellotron driven ballad that channels it’s inner 70’s prog rock, all the while it skillfully maintains the more modern alternative characteristics and features.

Conclusion

It’s not often where an album has songs on it that that don’t sound like products of it’s time. Siamese Dream is an exception to this. That despite the contemporary 90’s influences, there’s 70’s/80’s influences found throughout the entirety of the album. It’s a deeply personal, influential, and instrumentally proficient album that has become a cornerstone for modern rock and became the cornerstone for alternative rock as we know it. Siamese Dream is a fuzz-ridden collage of emotions and moods that knows when to change things up. There is a massive amount of variety, but never strays too far from the central themes and sound. It’s arguably on the great rock albums ever made.

Songs to listen to: Cherub Rock, Today, Disarm, Geek U.S.A.

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Year 5, Day 38: “Be Yourself” with Audioslave’s “Out of Exile”

Year 5, Day 38: Audioslave – Out of Exile

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Track List

  1. Your Time has Come
  2. Out of Exile
  3. Be Yourself
  4. Doesn’t Remind Me
  5. Drown Me Slowly
  6. Heaven’s Dead
  7. The Worm
  8. Man or Animal
  9. Yesterday to Tomorrow
  10. Dandelion
  11. #1 Zero
  12. The Curse

About the Album

Out of Exile is the second studio album from rock supergroup, Audioslave. The album was recorded from July 2004 through January 2005 and released on May 23rd 2005 through Epic Records and Interscope Records. The album peaked at number one on the Billboard 200, while single Be Yourself charted at number on the Modern Rock Tracks and the Mainsteam Rock Tracks charts. Single Doesn’t Remind Me was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Thoughts on the Album

We’ve arrived at the last three albums for this year. I thank you all for coming and reading about each an everyone so far, but we’re not done yet. Audioslave is a supergroup that is comprised of members from Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden; and their first album reflected that. Today’s album, Out of Exile is an album where the band finds it’s groove and own sound. The product is a unified one that stands out and stands on its own, though the elements like guitarist Tom Morello busting out effects pedals and making outrageous and outlandish sounds effect from his guitar from almost every song. Chris Cornell still hits notes that not many vocalists have bragging rights of hitting.

Your Time Has Come is a heavy riff rocker that opens up the album. The track slightly resembles a track from their self-titled first album, Cochise. The drums really shine on this track and makes the listener want more. Similar to Your Time Has Come are Drown Me Slowly and Man or Animal in that these songs follow the same heavy and hard riffs rocking formula and style. The more one listens to the album the more one can hear how expressive and meshed each member is. The titular track, Out of Exile, features an excellent solo that is relatively effect free. The solo from Morello is both complex in instrumentation and in theory.

Lead single Be Yourself, is a relatively midtempo rocker featuring excellent guitar riffs and work. It was a song that grew on me. Another song that grew on me was Doesn’t Remind Me. The rhythm section perfectly accompanies and is incredibly infectious and catchy. The guitar solo on Doesn’t Remind Me is absolutely beautiful. The song builds up to it, and then it comes. It’s almost perfectly set to the tone of the song. The effects are not so heavy laden, that if you wanted to learn it, you could easily.

Conclusion

Out of Exile is an incredibly fine album. While nothing truly comes across as defining, it is a better effort when compared to their first album. While I can see how the album can be dismissed as nothing more than generic modern rock, it is incredibly enjoyable. The album perfectly blends the style and sound of the four musicians. The album as a whole flows easily and feels less forced than their first album. It excellent shows off the band’s skill and talent in a cohesive effort that is lean, hard, heavy, and strong.

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Year 5, Day 12: Alice in Chains’ “Dirt”

Alice in Chains’ “Dirt” a morbidly dark and perfect album that transcends the decades.

Year 5, Day 12: Alice in Chains – Dirt

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Track List

  1. Them Bones
  2. Dam That River
  3. Rain When I Die
  4. Sickman
  5. Rooster
  6. Junkhead
  7. Dirt
  8. God Smack
  9. Intro (Dream Sequence)/Iron Gland
  10. Hate to Feel
  11. Angry Chair
  12. Down in a Hole
  13. Would?

About the Album

Dirt is the second studio album from Seattle-based grunge band, Alice in Chains. The album was recorded March to May of 1992 and released on September 29th 1992 through Columbia Records. The album peaked at number six on the Billboard 200, with all five singles (Would?, Them Bones, Angry Chair, Rooster, and Down in a Hole) all becoming top 30 hits. The album is certified 4x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Thoughts on the Album

If you can’t tell, I am big fan of the hard, heavy, and heady stuff when it comes to music. I like being able to sense the pain or the emotions going through the singers’ mind as they belt out the lyrics. That’s why I love Alice in Chains‘ Dirt. You get a sense of the struggles that the band members were going through with addiction, depression, and many other issues. Dirt is an emotionally charged album, even 25 years after release. Maybe there is some irony with Alice in Chains being one of the more popular driving forces behind grunge of the 1990s, considering they were one of most grungy, most sludgy, and vile bands out there. But consider their contemporaries in grunge music that would clean up their sound (see Nirvana with Nevermind), why compromise on your sound even if you become popular. That’s the exact formula Alice in Chains used on this album.

Dirt, an album that is steeped in some of most morbidly dark and brutally honest songs was arguably one of the most flawless albums of the decade. It an album so dark, so gloomy, is damn near heavenly. Musically speaking, Dirt is the complete package, so consistent and consistently intense that it just couldn’t be ignored. For all the doom and gloom and heaviness, it starts off rather “lighthearted”and “upbeat” with Them BonesThem Bones, a song about our mortality, so much so, Layne Staley points out that it’s inescapable. The lyrics are supported a Drop-D guitar tuning that downtuned like crazy. It’s strange… the instruments give off this “hollow-like” feeling, that I guess would come to present the band during the time. Them Bones is highlight by those guitars downtuned to hell and Staley’s powerful (and gutteral) screams. The song’s rythym itself is in 7/8ths time.

After the second track, which is in the vein of the Stone Temple Pilots‘ Sex Type Thing, it’s essentially welcome to a music hellscape. Arguably the biggest hit for the band, spawned with Rooster. Trying to explain why this song was so incredibly successful is like trying to divide by zero… improssible, or in this case: inexplicable. By traditional “radio friendly” standards and metrics, it’s not radio friend by any means. The song clocks in a hefty six minutes fifteen seconds long. Not only that, it the subject matter is so damned obscure and specific. The song is a tribute to the two tours of duty that guitarist Jerry Cantrell‘s father did in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. The album continues to descend into this hellscape of messed up humanity.

The final track of Dirt, is Would?, a track about Mother Love Bone‘s guitarist, Andrew Wood, who died of a heroin overdose in 1990. I’m going to say it’s one of) (if not) the best songs that Alice in Chains ever wrote. It is only fitting for a song of this caliber to be placed at the end of the album. Fitting. Fitting that the best song of the band is used to close out the best album from the band. The song has a bone-chilling, hauntingly beautiful guitar melody, with powerful and catchy drums. It is a track that is gut-wrenching and highlights the best qualities of the band’s sound, style, and lyrics.

Conclusion

The argument could be made that Nirvana‘s Nevermind is one of the most influential grunge albums to come out of Seattle during the 1990s. But I disagree. This album is hauntingly beautiful album. It’s morbidly dark as it tackles the issues of the band (and of music scene of that time). It would all too easy to dismiss this album today as just garbage or noise or loud garbage. It’s more than just some suicide note of a man who is lost to addiction. No it’s much more than that. Dirt wrestles with depression and addiction on a primal level. When you listen to Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell join voices and unleash a gnarled verse that gives away into a full-throttled chorus, you get a sensation of elation and seemingly happiness rather than depression or anguish. When you think about it, it is as if they have broken the chains on the demons that shackled them down and they are now flying free and unfettered. In the end, it is like Alice in Chains with this album have brought you with them to experience this feeling of freedom, if only for one brief moment in time.

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