Whoa! After a listen or two through this little diamond in the rough, it is not hard to fathom why Alice in Chains etched such a tangible place for themselves in the rock industry. While this is clearly not their best work, it shows a great deal of promise for what would their sound would become on later albums. While listening to gems like “Man in the Box”, “We Die Young”, “Sea of Sorrow” and “It Ain’t Like That” you catch a glimpse at the band that would one day cultivate enormous songs like “Them Bones”, “Dam the River”, “Grind”, “Heaven Beside You”, “No Excuses” “Down in a Hole” “Got Me Wrong” and numerous others. For a debut album from a then obscure, little known band from Seattle way back in 1990, this album is worth its weight in gold if not as a testament to what the band would one day become but rather as a testament as to the kind of wallop the band packed from day one. If you’re a fan of music, this highly influential band and album should be in your collection.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
If you are an Alice in Chains fan, this album is a must. Facelift is the initial commercial release, and in many respects, it is the best. I think that AIC is at their best when they are absolutely rocking and Layne Staley is matching the intensity of the song with his unique voice. I would say that he has the coolest voice in modern rock. He sings lead in all of the songs, which is nice becasue Cantrell has a decent voice, but Staley is the man who makes Alice in Chains who they are. It is much heavier than Jar of Flies and obviously Unplugged, and it just has a better sound than the self titled album. I would recommend Facelift, Dirt, Sap, and Jar of Flies in that order, and everything else is not essential. Of course the Music Bank would be nice if you are willing to spend 40 bucks. Facelift rocks big time. I would recommend it.
Along with Soundgarden, Alice in Chains was the heaviest of Seattle’s grunge scene, and their music was simply the best of the genre. The opener, which is the haunting, stripped-down “We Die Young”, is surprisingly fast for grunge music, while remaining very heavy and showcasing the best of Jerry’s guitar work. “Man In The Box”, the second track, is a bouncy, slow song about a guy with a seriously bleak outlook. The rest of the album is typical Alice, with elements that composed Dirt, their next and best release. This is, in a nutshell, the foundation that made Dirt great. It you know Alice, get this one and you’ll love it. Otherwise, get Dirt.
Facelift(1990). Alice In Chains’ First Album.
In 1990, when Hair Metal such as Nelson and Slaughter still dominated the charts, a drastic change was about to happen. In Seattle, Washington, four bands(Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains) were about to change the face of music forever, giving a slap in the face to the happy-party attitude of previous music, and dishing out depressing songs that appealed to teen rebels(sort of like myself!). Alice In Chains, after the release of their debut album, ‘Facelift’, became the first band to achieve minor success, scoring the minor rock radio hits “Man In The Box” and “Sea of Sorrow”. Although the album and the hits later became legendary, fans, including myself, typically overlook ‘Facelift’, instead buying a compilation or ‘Dirt’. Is it a mistake that many fans overlook ‘Facelift’ or not? Read on to find out!
We Die Young- ‘Facelift’ starts off with “We Die Young”, a psychotic rocker that resembles early Soundgarden and Black Sabbath, but even heavier and darker. Layne Staley’s emotion, as always, leaves me breathless. Great start!
Man In The Box- What hasn’t been said before? Along with “Rooster”, “Man In The Box” is Alice In Chains biggest hit, and it’s no surprise. Cantrell’s pounding, sinister power chords, combined with Layne Staley’s eerie, yet catchy harmonies raises eyebrows everywhere. Not to be missed.
Sea of Sorrow- Basically a classic metal song, “Sea of Sorrow” brings back the sound of classic bands like The Scorpions and Aerosmith. Cantrell’s riff is reminiscent of retro-Scorpions, while putting in influences from Joe Perry. Layne Staley sings the twisted morals of the song quite well, and it’s obvious this is a fan favorite.
Bleed The Freak- Starting off like a classic Alice In Chains ballad, “Bleed The Freak” is a dark twisted song that has some religious undertones, and seems to be a purging of Layne Staley’s faith. Cantrell is brilliant on this song… he reminds me a lot of Zakk Wylde on this song, with a ripping solo and awesome riffs. Brilliant… spooky.
I Can’t Remember- “I Can’t Remember” begins with a doomy acoustic passage and builds-up to a doomed rocker about amnesia. Staley is the perfect voice… his doomed tale is perfectly sung. Jerry Cantrell shines with his guitarmanship. An oddly beautiful song.
Love, Hate, Love- Oddly, this sounds like a mix of The Scorpions and Metallica, kind of a spooky, slow, battle between Layne Staley and his mind. Cantrell plays classically influenced riffs, and they fit perfect… once again, oddly beautiful… there are no words.
It Ain’t Like That- After a few slower songs, Alice In Chains takes it up a notch with “I Ain’t Like That”, a headbanging affair of killer power chords and vocals that demand your attention. Maybe your typical Alice In Chains song, but, does it ever get old?
Sunshine- Kind of a bluesy song, “Sunshine” is not as gloomy as Alice In Chains’ usually is, combining Cantrell’s bluesy(and punk) influenced melodies with Layne Staley’s punkish vocals. Good.
Put You Down- Cantrell starts off “Put You Down” with his hopelessly addictive blues-metal riff, which, along with Layne Staley’s heartbroken vocals, suck you into the song and you can’t get away. Just plain cool…
Confusion- “Confusion” is another gloomy, dark, and downright depressing song courtesy Alice In Chains. Layne Staley is front and center, spilling his secrets in a gloomy whisper. Cantrell, as usual, impresses.
I Know Somthin(Bout You)- “I Know Somethin(Bout You)” is a funky song, featuring awesome blues and funk riffs from Cantrell(in fact, this sounds a lot like The Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Staley is more upbeat, just singing this song sarcastically. Impossibly cool, and a different song for Alice In Chains.
Real Thing- “Real Thing” begins a lot like “Sea of Sorrow”, building up slowly, and finding Layne Staley at a whisper discussing the truth about addiction. This song is actually quite resounding, and Staley’s cries are quite memorable. Cool song… Cantrell shines here.
Overall, ‘Facelift’ is a great offering from Alice In Chains, and hooked me from beginning to end. Every song on here is a winner, even though many sound like another Alice In Chains song you’ve heard before, they don’t sound overdone or rehashed. While ‘Facelift’ isn’t as good as ‘Dirt’, this is a damn good album from Alice In Chains, and any fan that passed this up would surely regret that decision.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO FANS OF ALICE IN CHAINS, METAL, GRUNGE, AND ROCK MUSIC! DON’T OVERLOOK THIS ALBUM, AND IGNORE THE NEGATIVE REVIEWS!
Killer Cuts- ‘We Die Young’, ‘Man In The Box’, ‘Sea of Sorrow’, ‘Bleed The Freak’, and ‘I Know Somethin(Bout You)’.
Dirt- Alice In Chains
Taken By Force- The Scorpions
Ride The Lightning- Metallica
Thanks For Reading!
When FACELIFT was released, the metal scene had started to become stale. Everywhere you looked, hair bands where the dominating scene so when this rocking, sometimes dark and dreary album was released, music become good again. This album is full of classic songs that to this day continue to get a good amount of airplay on various radio stations. WE DIE YOUNG, MAN IN THE BOX, SEA OF SORROW, BLEED THE FREAK, LOVE HATE LOVE, I CANT REMEMBER, IT AINT LIKE THAT are some heavy songs that rock and suck the listener right in. When I came back from the Gulf War in ‘91, MAN IN THE BOX was a huge hit, being played all over the radio and MTV. Remember this album was released before NEVERMIND and TEN the success of this album helped to pave the way for the future success of Nirvana and Pearl Jam. I have always thought that AIC blew those two bands away with only SOUNDGARDEN coming close to them. I highly recommend this album to serious hard rock fans. AIC is more metal than grunge and this album shows the future promise this band had and prepared us for the future great albums they made. RIP Layne. Every track rocks