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Succeeds As a Solo Album - 83%

pinpals, May 23rd, 2007

Rumor has it that many of the songs that were included on "Boggy Depot" were actually songs that Jerry Cantrell had written for the next Alice in Chains album. The main lineup is basically Alice in Chains minus singer Layne Staley (with several guest musicians), but they play in pretty much the same style, Cantrell even harmonizes with himself during the choruses. Yet many of these songs do not feel like Alice in Chains songs at all, mainly because they are too upbeat and "happy" (although Alice in Chains' previous self-titled album did have more "happy" songs than their previous albums). This may be because Layne was the reason that any of Alice in Chains' songs were sad in the first place; after all, he WAS the heroin addict, I believe the other members were clean at this point. On the other hand, perhaps Cantrell made the conscious decision to make these songs sound like his own creations and not like "Dirt II" or whatever.

"Boggy Depot" shows a side of Cantrell that his earlier Alice in Chains work only hinted at. Here the songs are much more diverse and none of them would really be heavy enough to be considered "metal." That does not mean that they should be overlooked, however. "Jesus' Hands" is probably the best song on here, a calm driving verse that leads into a tremendous chorus: "As you sleep unearthly grace/lay Jesus' hands upon your face..." "Satisfy" also has an amazing chorus, yet it is so inconspicuous it took several listens to really hit me. The guitar solo in it is amazing as well, maybe one of the best in Cantrell's career. The song itself is quite subtle though, but that only makes the song that much more memorable in the end. "Devil By His Side" is a little bit faster, with an eerie lead guitar line over the whole thing. The chorus "Running down an elusive high/one more time..." Overall a very enjoyable song.

In fact, the lyrics as a whole on this album are incredibly strong. It's rare enough to find a full-time band that writes anything worth reading in the liner notes; it is nearly unheard of that a guitarist's side project delivers anything of value. Yet "Boggy Depot" defies those stereotypes, which is refreshing.

Unfortunately, Cantrell also defies the stereotype of guitar players using their albums as a showcase for their guitar-work. Most of the solos and riffs are restrained and subtle, with the exception of the solo in "Satisfy." While it is admirable that Cantrell reigns himself in, I would have liked to at least hear some flashier stuff in at least one or two other songs. Another problem is that not all of his ideas work. "Keep the Light On" never takes off and "Cold Piece" is experimental, but fails in the end and does nothing more for me then give me a headache.

Even so, this album is solid as a whole and isn't just for diehard fans of Alice in Chains. In fact, Alice in Chains fans might even be disappointed at this album, because the songs are much more varied. But knowing going into the first listen that you're going to get hard rock mixed with more laid back rock, folk, and even some country influences will raise the enjoyment level of this album immensely. It's not perfect, but it's certainly unique, and when the mood is right, there isn't anything more fitting to listen to.

Inspired and Ambitious - 90%

erickg13, October 14th, 2006

First things first, this isn’t an Alice in Chains album, not to say you wont hear a lot of AIC in it, due to the fact Jerry was the main songwriter. Another reason is that this is more experimental than any AIC album ever was. Also the subject matter isn’t as bleak.

With the deterioration of Alice in Chains after their on and off 1995 self-titled album, what was lead songwriter Jerry Cantrell to do? Simple. Assemble a supergroup of sorts and make a solo album.

Jerry Cantrell’s style is undeniable. He has a mixture of his classic AIC sound with a oddly Carlos Santana meets David Gilmour, for a convincing psychedelic, yet grungy sound. Also his vocals are a real surprise, they are completely different from Layne Staley’s, not to mention unlike some solo artists known for their guitar prowess, he can really sing. His voice is full of emotion and don’t sound weak at nearly any point. He also plays piano, which when done right can sound really cool.

The drums are the next thing that comes to mind. I have always respected Sean Kinney as a drummer, but on Boggy Depot the drum work shines through. Also it is farther up in the mix than most songs with AIC. He also shows talent at more than just straight ahead rock, pulling off some groovy, country-ish, and even psychedelia beats real well.

For the bass, which there are 3 different bassists (Rex Brown, Mike Inez and Les Claypool), it is a strength but unlike AIC is not a main point. Each brings something different to the table, Les brings a funk edge, Rex brings a groovy-thrash intensity and Mike has a unmistakable AIC sludge.

Also at certain parts this is nicely done horn sections. I’m not sure why it seems that grunge artists like to have horns in some songs, with Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam all having at least a few songs with horns in it. To really hear what I mean listen to “Cold Piece” (that also happens to have one of the coolest guitar solos of the album too).

The album contains absolutely no filler. This is one of those rare, at least now-a-days, albums which you can listen to from beginning to end, and even better enjoy more when you listen to it in full. But if you must skip ahead to certain tracks these are the strongest ones: the hard rocker “Dickeye”, the funky “Cut You In”, the mild ballad “My Song”, the psychedelic “Breaks my Back”, the rocking “Devil by His Side”, the thrashy “Keep the Light On”, the county tinged “Satisify”, and the oddball “Cold Piece”. If you noticed I didn’t skip more than 1 song for any, so in a sense I kind of proved my point that it is best listened to in full.

Overall Jerry Cantrell’s solo debut “Boggy Depot” is a clear winner. You can’t really go wrong with it, especially if you like Alice in Chains or Soundgarden. But anyone who hasn’t heard too much by either of these bands, or hell even doesn’t like them, just might like it. So it doesn’t limit itself to AIC fans, without alienating them. As you can clearly see Boggy Depot has become one of my favorite albums, and I hope my review can help convince you to check this out and hopefully enjoy it just as much.

Out Of The Shadows - 85%

mike584, November 3rd, 2003

In 1998, after a year of waiting for vocalist Layne Staley to come out of hiding, Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell decided it was time to step up to the plate and move on. Recruting other Chains members, bassist Mike Inez, and Sean Kinney, Cantrell recorded Boggy Depot, his first solo album. Despite appearances by the Chains band, as well as Pantera's Rex Brown on a few tracks, let it be known now that this is not an Alice In Chains record. In other words, this record is more diverse, and at times experimental. Boggy has some pretty propulsive tracks, like the heavy opener "Dickeye", which includes a steel drum, "Jesus Hands", "Devil By His Side", and "Keep The Light On". But a bulk of the record is kind of mellow. The piano driven "Settling Down", the brooding "Breaks My Back" and "Satisfy" demonstrate Cantrell's songwriting abilities. It doesn't alwayts work for the best though, as some parts of these songs are ponderous at times. "Hurt A Long Time" is the anthor brooder, but just as gorgeous as "Breaks My Back", as it is the most emotional track on this record. "Cold Piece", the album's closer see Primus' Les Claypool playing bass on the most avant-garde of the entire album, in which Cantrell even plays a clarinet. This, as mention earlier, is nothing like Cantrell's work with Alice. But it's a good start to his solo career.

Memorable and Enjoyable - AIC's : the Return - 97%

Demon_of_the_Fall, October 31st, 2003

You guys and gals are probably wondering...what the hell? Why did you give it a 97 percert? Well Jerry Cantrell was "The Mastermind" behind Alice In Chains, and when i heard he was going to do a solo cd i nearly stained my shorts. Alice in Chains was one of the grunge bands that actually did something for me. They had more attitude and more rockish qualities and did i mention the pure talent these guys have? Jerry Cantrell takes what Alice in Chains had set out for themselfs but he decided to just take it to the next level. Jerry's vocals fit perfectally for the music, and all the songs are noteworthy and memorable as hell. This album brings back alot of good memories, due to the sheer brilliance of each and every song. The instant i heard Dick Eye i had to have Boggy Depot. Rex Brown from Pantera plays bass on a few songs on here, and Mike Inez and Sean Kinny from AIC guest on a few tracks on here as well which is nice. Cut you In was the radio hit from this album, although it was never to huge, but this song just rocks man. Theres not alot of heavier music on Boggy Depot, but there is alot of godly rockin tracks, as well as the emotional sorrowful ballads he does so well (My Song, Settling Down), This album has to be one of the best Alternative Metal albums I own because it holds that special place in my heart and I sure that it will and should hold one in yours as well. Cantrell's voice is clean and is a pleasure to listen to not like most singers in this genre. Breaks My Back is one of the best slower mellow tracks ive ever heard as it starts with a haunting piano in the background then it starts in with bass and drums but very subtle and soft. Then the song gets to a brief climax and then it drops down again just at the right time. Jerry really knows how to write some powerful music, and it's a shame that he hasnt released the second part of Degredation Trip yet because i would have it in a second. The vibe to this album is something else...it really is and I don't think it can ever be beat.l think this is his crowning achievement, although he has had many. I can never stop listening to this and im confident that if most people give it a chance they will love it too.
Cheers

Best Tracks: Dick Eye, Cut You In, My Song, Settling Down, Breaks My Back, Devil By His Hands, Keep the Light On, Hurt a Long Time