JERRY CANTRELL — Degradation Trip (review)

JERRY CANTRELL — Degradation Trip album cover Album · 2002 · Alternative Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
"Degradation Trip" is the 2nd full-length studio album by alternative metal/hard rock artist Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains). The album was released through Roadrunner Records in June 2002. The writing for the album began shortly after the release of Jerry Cantrell´s debut solo album "Boggy Depot (1998)" and lasted for a couple of very intense months where Cantrell locked himself up in his house, wrote music and practically didn´t leave the house until he felt that he was inspirationally "dry". He wrote 25 songs and originally planned for a double album release in 1999, but then he got dropped from Columbia Records. As a consequence he funded the recording of the tracks himself and finally Roadrunner Records agreed to release the album albeit in a 14 track, one disc version. In November 2002 Roadrunner Records released "Degradation Trip Volumes 1 & 2" in a limited edition, which is how Cantrell originally intented the album to be released. "Degradation Trip" is dedicated to Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley, who had died from a drug overdose just two months prior to the album´s release.

Jerry Cantrell handles all vocals and guitars (with a little help from former Queensrÿche guitarist Chris DeGarmo on "Anger Rising") on the album while he enlisted Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica) on bass and Mike Bordin (Faith No More, Ozzy Osbourne) on drums.

The music on the album resembles the dark and heavy alternative metal/hard rock style of Alice in Chains, which of course isn´t too surprising since Cantrell was always the main composer in that band. The trademark heavy riffs, melancholic/depressive mood and the signature harmony vocals are all present and accounted for. Tracks like "Psychotic Break", "Anger Rising" and "Angel Eyes" are well written and catchy material but overall the material are generally not as memorable as it could have been. The 72:51 minutes long playing time, is also a bit of a show stopper, when the material aren´t stronger than it is. The two disc version must be quite a mouthful to get through. The fact that Jerry Cantrell isn´t the most distinc sounding frontman doesn´t help things along either. He is a skilled vocalist, but his voice is rather unremarkable.

"Degradation Trip" is both well produced and well played, but the songwriting is holding me back from giving the album a high rating. I guess the fact that it´s taken me 10 years to be able to get through the full album in one spin says it all. It´s too bad because when Jerry Cantrell captures the dark depressive magic, which thankfully happens several times during the playing time, I´m transported right back to the glory days of Alice in Chains, but the amount of filler material, that doesn´t rock my boat one bit, is unfortuntately dominant. A 3 star (60%) rating isn´t unfair.
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