Tracks: Them Bones; Dam That River; Rain When I Die; Down in a Hole; Sickman; Rooster; Junkhead; Dirt; Godsmack; “Iron Gland”; Hate to Feel; Angry Chair; Would?
Best track: probably Would
Track to skip: none
I was 16 when this album came out, so it’s automatically one of those albums that “takes me back”. The good thing is that I don’t have to listen to this album for nostalgic reasons; it’s still a great album. It’s since been said that this is a concept about heroin and specifically Layne Staley’s addiction to it. As 16 year olds I don’t think any of my friends and I had any clue this was an album about heroin. We liked Alice in Chains and this was yet another great album from them. Approaching it from a current standpoint, and now knowing about the “concept” it sheds a huge darkness over this album. The lyrical subject matter really just brings you down and depresses you. I think if anything, this is an awesome example for staying away from heroin. Hearing how Staley & Jerry Cantrell just lay it all out there for everyone to hear is chilling. And of course the band provides the perfect music to go along with all this darkness.
The music (mostly written by guitarist Cantrell) is just poundingly heavy for nearly the whole disc. The only breathers are Down in a Hole and Rooster. This is a very influential album for a lot of musicians (including me, but that’s more from Cantrell’s melodic side) and to me this is how a modern heavy album is supposed to be done. I think for all the heavy albums released in the 90’s and 2000’s, this is still at the top of the list and it’s something that most heavy groups attain for. It’s not heavy just to be hip; it’s heavy because it’s the perfect musical example of this addiction stuff just crushing you. For me, what makes Alice in Chains and this album in particular so appealing is not the heaviness, but the melodicism that Cantrell brings out. There are a lot of great melodies on this album, even amidst all the heaviness and that’s really what makes Dirt so great. As a piece of plastic it’s not AIC’s best one, but as far as the full-length studio albums go, this is the one.