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ALICE IN CHAINS - Dirt cover
4.36 | 127 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 1992


1. Them Bones (2:30)
2. Dam That River (3:09)
3. Rain When I Die (6:01)
4. Down In A Hole (5:38)
5. Sickman (5:29)
6. Rooster (6:15)
7. Junkhead (5:09)
8. Dirt (5:16)
9. God Smack (3:50)
10. [Iron Gland] (0:43)
11. Hate To Feel (5:16)
12. Angry Chair (4:47)
13. Would? (3:27)

Total Time 57:35


- Layne Staley / lead vocals, rhythm guitar
- Jerry Cantrell / lead guitar, backing vocals
- Mike Starr / bass
- Sean Kinney / drums

Additional musicians:
- Tom Araya / vocals (track 10)

About this release

Label: Columbia
Release Date: September 29, 1992

David Coleman: Logo
Layne Staley: Sun logo, Icons
Dave Jerden: Producer, Mixing
Bryan Carlstrom: Engineering
Annette Cisneros: Engineering (assistant)
Ulrich Wild: Engineering (assistant)
Steve Hall: Mastering
Eddy Schreyer: Mastering
Mary Maurer: Art direction
Rocky Schenck: Photography
Doug Erb: Design

Produced at One On One & Eldorado, 1992.
Mixed at Eldorado. Mastered at Future Disc, Hollywood, CA.

Some versions place Down in a Hole before Would?.

Thanks to [email protected], Pekka, progshine, Lynx33, Unitron, adg211288 for the updates


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If you remember the 1990s and the alternative music scene of the time, putting on Dirt will instantly take you back there. The production style, performance aesthetic, and general approach of the album is absolutely rooted in the grunge era, and in the hands of a less talented crew this would put the album at risk of becoming seriously dated.

What saves it is that, as well as capturing a zeitgeist perfectly, Alice In Chains also completely burn the house down on Dirt. Mashing up a grunge aesthetic and well-honed alternative metal chops with a doomy approach which ensures the album has plenty to offer more traditional metal fans, the band wheel out classic tune after classic tune. making this perhaps one of the best grunge-metal crossover albums to ever emerge from that brief Seattle-spawned scene.

That said, the album's arguably frontloaded with the best material - Them Bones is an absolute banger - and that classic 1990s grunge production style is laid on thick here. For some, that will make this feel instantly familiar and comfortable, but for other listeners - either those who didn't live through the 1990s when this stuff was everywhere, or those who did and either bounced off it or got sick of it - that'll get old quick.
While Facelift had glam roots, and Dirt is considered to be a "grunge" classic, Dirt is really neither of these. Alice in Chains created a Doomy masterpiece with Dirt, and influenced many a band to come with it.

The riffs are either slow and ominous or menacingly groovy. They are a perfect match for Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell's harmonizing vocals that give a mystical aura to the work. While it does have some standard alternative elements that it's called, Dirt is plainly ominous doom heavy metal, and masterfully crafted metal at that.

The single and opener, "Them Bones" starts off with rough aggressive riffage and a killer solo a la Jerry Cantrell. The track stands out, though, since it is one of the quicker tempoed ones and the heaviest ones. After that, slower doom riffs come in such as "Rain When I Die", "Down in a Hole", and "Rooster". These are interspersed with the energetic tom-heavy "Sickman" and the groovy bass-ridden "God Smack". However, the haunting ones are probably the best, such as the title track, which features an evil melancholy Phrygian styled riff and croaking vocals to match. "Angry Chair" is just as haunting as the previous but more biting. The closer, "Would?" is a mix of the haunting parts and the energetic tempos found on the album. To be honest, almost all the tracks on the album are standouts, and the rest are merely good.

Overall, this is a highly recommended album for anyone into metal. For a collector it is a definite must. The atmosphere is haunting, the vocals are biting, the drums give off an uncomfortable feel, and the album is overall a killer journey. As for the grunge fans, they should like it too.
What a classic! Having shed pretty much all evidence of their hair metal past, Alice In Chains fully embrace their grunge-tinged metal sound with their landmark album, Dirt.

This album has been talked about to death, and for good reason, so I won’t go into great detail. In fact, I’ll make a rather unusual comparison of this album to another major event of 1992: The USA Men’s Olympic Basketball “Dream Team”. I won’t blame you if you want to stop reading.

“Them Bones”, “Rooster”, “Angry Chair”, “Down In A Hole”, and “Would?”. Those five songs were all released as singles, and they form your starting lineup. They are a great mix of heaviness, sorrow, beauty, and groove. A diverse bunch of songs, all complimentary to one another, and all are locks for the Hall of Fame.

It doesn’t stop there. Those songs get most of the attention, but the supporting cast has plenty of all stars and personal favorites highlighted by the likes of “Damn That River”, “Rain When I Die”, and “Hate to Feel”. The only thing slightly odd with this album is the unlisted track “Iron Gland”. However, at a mere 43 seconds, it doesn’t get much playing time, and has no effect on the overall image or impact of the album. Sort of like the Christian Laetnerr of Dirt.

Not a good analogy? Well, just let the album do the talking. Any serious rock or metal fan would be wise to check it out.
Going down the steps on a white line straight to nowhere. Those words were repeated over and over in Real Thing, the closer of Facelift, and AIC's second album documents the repercussions. This is one of the heaviest albums I've heard, not necessarily because of the music but the subject matter which is mostly mortality and addiction.

But this is not just a lyrics album. The opener Them Bones comes in with a crushing 7/8 riff and a torching Layne Staley roar, Sickman has one of the most disturbing verse riffs I can think of, Rain When I Die has a great atmospheric build-up, great riffs in this song, great riffs in that song... not to mention such classics as Rooster, Down in a Hole and Would? with its iconic bass riff. And all of the album is crowned by the gloriously haunting vocal harmonies by Staley and Jerry Cantrell.

Almost all of the debut album Facelift was composed by Jerry Cantrell with Layne Staley contributing much of the lyrics, but on this album the composer in Staley really steps up. He's the driving force behind the five song drug saga from Junkhead to Angry Chair (including Cantrell's hidden interlude Iron Gland, featuring the howling of Slayer's Tom Araya), with the addiction escalating from Junkhead's "we are an elite race of our own, the stoners junkies and freaks" to Angry Chair's "saw my reflection and cried, so little hope that I died". Hugely powerful and tragic stuff, delivered with the authority of a genuine dope fiend.

A defining grunge and 90s heavy metal album, essential to say the least.
The grunge movement was unification of sorts between the metal and alternative camps. Some bands came from the punk / new wave camp, some were mixtures from the beginning, and a few definitely had their roots in metal. Alice in Chains were clearly metal. Their debut album wasn't even grouped in a new genre when it was released. It was a great start. But Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell's magnus opus was clearly 1992's DIRT.

This album has it all, the metallic riffs (Them Bones, Dirt) the amazing harmony vocals (Angry Chair, Down in a Hole) and grunge classics (Would?, Rooster). I count "Would?" as perhaps THE grunge song with its reference back to grunge forefather Andrew Wood. The bass rumble and perfect chorus give way to one of Cantrell's most economically effective solos and the grand crush of the coda.

Bottom Line: One of the defining albums of the 90's and the metallic side of grunge.

Members reviews

Primeval Scum
The crown jewel of the grunge movement

Facelift and Alice in Chains were pretty good and Black Gives Way to Blue and The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here managed to be somewhat competent, but Dirt is in a league of its own. With this album, Alice In Chains achieved near-perfection of their sound. The album is stuffed to the brim with thick and gloomy, yet morbidly catchy rock songs. Make no mistake, this is no vanilla grunge a la Nirvana. Alice In Chains mix in lots of heavy metal and even doom metal influence to give their music a darker edge than most of their grunge contemporaries. The feelings of hopelessness and loneliness that these songs emit will grab you by the throat.

Of course, the songwriting of Jerry Cantrell and the vocals of Layne Staley are what make this album work so well. Cantrell and Staley's crooning vocal harmonies have made their permanent mark on rock history. Staley's wails on "Would" and "Down in a Hole" truly are the cries of a man who has lost hope and feels isolated from the world. Though it was a huge mainstream success, this album has something real and emotionally intense about it that few others do. Almost every song is a classic. A "Best Of" album for Alice In Chains should be about two-thirds of Dirt and a couple songs from their other two 90s albums. That's how great this thing is.

If you call yourself a fan of good rock music and you haven't given this thing a chance, you're doing yourself a real disservice.

Best songs: Sickman, Rooster, Junkhead, Dirt, God Smack, Hate to Feel, Angry Chair, Would?, Down in a Hole

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