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They managed to do something amazing - 89%

ThunderheaD, April 29th, 2003

Unlike so many great metal and rock bands, AIC completely mellowed their sound from their earlier work on their two eps, Jar of Flies and Sap, and completely make it work. Actually, I lied. They did two amazing things. The first one was stated above and the second one is that while they mellowed their sound, their music still remained as bleak and "heavy" as ever. The Cantrell/Staley vocal duo's vocals are as haunting as ever yet beautiful at the same time.

'Rotten Apple' is probably the most bleak song on the album. The vocals are immensly powerful and the lyrics are amazing. This seems to be the norm with AIC. 'Nutshell' is a slower, more somber tune, yet it is amazing. Great guitars accompany the once again amazing vocals. They lyrics are especially depressing knowing what Staley put himself through up until his passing. "And yet I fight, this battle all alone. No one to cry to, no place to call home." 'I Stay Away' was another single off of this album (along with Nutshell) and the orchestral music in the background fits perfectly. Amazing song.

The album goes slightly downhill from here, but remains rather strong. 'No Excuses' is a great Cantrell song and has extremely catchy verses. It also features some nifty cymbol work. 'Whale & Wasp' is a short instrumental and works very well. 'Don't Follow' and 'Swing on This' are slightly weaker tracks, especially the latter, but are decent ends to a great ep.

Alice in Chains is a great band and this ep is a great album. Very recommended for any AIC fan or a fan or softer, beautiful rock music.