Album Review 1: Dirt by Alice In Chains

Written on 03/02/2020
Jonathan Lustig

A Premier 90s Grunge Album

For my first album review for The Lion, I thought I would go with a record I listened to recently and found to be quite exceptional. Dirt by Alice In Chains is a premier album in grunge history that took what albums before it created and elevated it to a new level.

Grunge, in short, is a sub-genre of rock music that was popular in the early 1990s. Originating in gloomy Seattle, Washington, it took elements of punk and metal music and combined them with sad and downtrodden vocals/lyrics. A major band in this burgeoning genre was Alice In Chains. While Nirvana’s 1991 release Nevermind effectively birthed the genre, Alice In Chains’ 1992 sophomore album Dirt perfected this sound.

Dirt immediately grabs you with its trademark moaning harmonization between lead vocalist (the late) Layne Staley and guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell that has become iconic over time. No song better exemplifies this than “Rooster”, a 6-minute tale of Cantrell’s father who served in the Vietnam War. Bassist Mike Starr provides great bass lines on songs like “Would?” and “Them Bones”. Sean Kinney’s pounding drums shine through on the gem “Dam That River”. However, this album shines in the lyric department, providing harrowing tales on depression and drug addiction in my personal favorite tracks on the album “Angry Chair” and “Hate To Feel”.

Containing 13 songs and clocking in at just over 57 minutes, Dirt virtually has no filler, making it a very meaningful listen.