Cantrell degradation



Keywords: cantrell degradation
Description: Much like how Bruce Dickinson's solo albums can be seen as the successors to Iron Maiden's albums until they reunited in 2000, Jerry Cantrell's solo albums are Alice in Chains albums in everything

Much like how Bruce Dickinson's solo albums can be seen as the successors to Iron Maiden's albums until they reunited in 2000, Jerry Cantrell's solo albums are Alice in Chains albums in everything but name. It's obvious that if Cantrell had his way, he would still be making Alice in Chains albums. One of the main differences between "Degradation Trip" and his solo debut, "Boggy Depot," is that Jerry Cantrell is the only Alice in Chains member that is playing on it. That being said, Cantrell's supporting cast of Robert Trujillo on bass and Mike Bordin on drums is certainly more than competant.

Several adjectives can be used to describe the overall "feel" or "mood" of this album, including somber, angst-ridden, introspective, brooding and ominous. In other words, it marks the return of the overall atmosphere of "Dirt," which is a welcome change from the happy, upbeat songs of Alice in Chains' self-titled and "Boggy Depot." That's not to say that everything is all doom and gloom, but it's obvious that Layne Staley's deteriorating health was a strong factor in the recording of this album (he died a couple of months before it was released, but was still alive during the recording process).

Some songs seem directly inspired by Staley, like the powerful opener "Psychotic Break" and especially the not-so-subtle "Locked On." The former is a sad, hynotic dirge dedicated to remembering pains and sorrows of the past, especially the deaths of close friends and loved ones, through the eyes of someone who has been affected so much that he has become mentally unstable. The latter is semi-autobiographical:

Anyone familiar with Cantrell and Alice in Chains' history will not have trouble deciphering those. A more metallic side of Cantrell is shown throughout "Spiderbite" and several acoustic numbers like "Solitude" and "Gone" add that introspective element to "Degradation Trip" that was mentioned earlier:

However, the best songs here are classic Cantrell. "Mother's Spinning in Her Grave (Glass Dick Jones)" is a great song to rock out to and has the best solo on the entire album. Cantrell manages to mold an epic soundscape with unrelenting hard rock/metal on "Hellbound" and he succeeds greatly. Both of these songs feature the band playing tight with each other; it's obvious that there's chemistry there. Cantrell's voice sounds as good as it ever has, and showcases his signature playing style and guitar work.

"Degradation Trip" is a breathtaking album and ranks up with the best Alice in Chains has ever done. For the greatest effect, it must be listened to from start to finish. Jerry Cantrell has proven, again, that the loss of Layne Staley has not crippled his songwriting skills and that he can stand by himself as a songwriter. Thankfully, he's reunited with Alice in Chains and at the time of this review they are writing a new album. Judging by "Degradation Trip," chances are good that this new album will be far from a letdown.






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