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Jar of Flies

Alice In Chains

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Album Review

Written and recorded in about a week, Jar of Flies solidified Alice in Chains' somewhat bizarre pattern of alternating full-length hard rock albums with mostly acoustic, ballad-oriented EPs. That quirk aside, Jar of Flies is a low-key stunner, achingly gorgeous and harrowingly sorrowful all at once. In a way, it's a logical sequel to Dirt — despite the veneer of calm, the songs' voices still blame only themselves. But where Dirt found catharsis in its unrelenting darkness and depravity, Jar of Flies is about living with the consequences, full of deeply felt reflections on loneliness, self-imposed isolation, and lost human connections. The mood is still hopelessly bleak, but the poignant, introspective tone produces a sense of acceptance that's actually soothing, in a funereal sort of way. Jerry Cantrell's arrangements keep growing more detailed and layered; while there are a few noisy moments, most of Jar of Flies is bathed in a clean, shimmering ambience whose source is difficult to pin down, but is well served by Cantrell's varied guitar tones and even occasional string arrangements. And coming on the heels of Dirt, the restraint and subtlety of Jar of Flies are nothing short of revelatory — though it was written and recorded in about a week, it feels much more crafted and textured than Sap. Perhaps Jar of Flies would have gotten more credit if it had been a full-length album; as it stands, the EP is a leap forward and a major work in the Alice in Chains catalog.

Customer Reviews

Best recording ever

The quality of recording for this album is the best I've ever heard. period.

Unbelievable harmonies

Jerry and Layne were at their best vocally on this album. The more you listen to it, the more you appreciate the insane harmonies they put together. A must have!

The album that launched a thousand bands

I love this band. Layne Staley proved that soul persists in rock music throughout time. For some reason, I associate it with the end of summer and beginning of autumn. Decay and rebirth - a theme that doesn't die. I can even forgive them for "Swing on This" - after all, what's an album of moody songs without a little sense of humour?

Biography

Formed: 1987 in Seattle, WA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In many ways, Alice in Chains was the definitive heavy metal band of the early '90s. Drawing equally from the heavy riffing of post-Van Halen metal and the gloomy strains of post-punk, the band developed a bleak, nihilistic sound that balanced grinding hard rock with subtly textured acoustic numbers. They were hard enough for metal fans, yet their dark subject matter and punky attack placed them among the front ranks of the Seattle-based grunge bands. While this dichotomy helped the group soar to...
Full bio