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I have to admit that before hearing Jar of Flies originally I was somewhat skeptical and scared of what to expect. Unsure of how this will stand in comparison to their previous releases because of how they changed and evolved their sound. Fortunately their new softer, more acoustic oriented material is not only worthy to the name Alice In Chains name, but is so different and beautifully depressive at times it deserves to be classified totally separate from previous heavier albums. Special mention goes out to the very well placed lead electric guitar work as well. Jar of Flies features some of Layne Staley’s most passionate vocals ever. The vast majority revolves around these gentle acoustic strings and Staley’s incredible vocals. Don’t expect any extraordinary drum fills (that would be ridiculous on this emotional album anyway). That said, the bass work is very noticeable because of the nature and his contribution has really helped define the albums sound. Jar of Flies lyrics are too damn personal and emotional to even think of bringing complexity into the mix. All complexity would do is cloud this excellent release. So now you know this change in sound has truly evolved their sound so how about tracks?
This album is filled with memorable melodies and hooks. Rotten Apple is an excellent starting song. One of the better acoustic riffs on the album and also contains great lyrics to kick this album off. This leads to the extremely passionate, personal nature of Nutshell, which could possibly be one of Alice In Chain’s best songs over and can never be described as accurately as it deserves to be. Has Layne ever sounded better? I Stay Away is definitely another highlight with its great acoustic material and amazing chorus riffs blended with different more orchestra-based instrumentation finished off with the trademark AIC vocals. No Excuses is another excellent song on this album. Not as depressive tone as Nutshell, but the music is spot on and fits the song very well. One minor knock on this release from Alice In Chains is that somewhat formulaic but the big question is who cares? Undeniably catchy melodies and the lead guitar did a great job in varying its work on each song to not make it seem too repetitive. Whale and Wasp is an excellent instrumental as well. Excellent blend with the presence of an orchestra once again. I love the opening lead guitar riff because it can feel so damn cryptic. Some of the best lead on the album. Thus far top notch stuff. I love it!!! Don’t Follow is another classic Alice In Chains track. The harmonica is a welcome addition and the acoustics were great as always. Not one of their best vocal performances but it was still very good for pretty well anyone else. Swing on This is a great tune, but on this album it felt like the vocals, guitars weren’t as good as the rest of the album. All in all, Jar of Flies has seven very solid songs at worst. At best, a masterpiece of the 90’s but I think a classic Alice In Chains album is more realistic. Recommendations? Listen to the whole album! :P Best of luck with finding weak tracks!