It’s been two years since Alice in Chains released a full-length album, but the Seattle-based quartet has remained in the public eye.Noted on the band’s timecard: A Grammy nomination for best heavy metal performance; tours with Van Halen, Extreme and a spot on the “Clash of the Titans” tour with Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer; release of an EP, “Sap”; placing a song on the “Singles” soundtrack; and the icing on the cake, a cameo in the film. All of the activity has been the perfect set-up for the band’s second full-length Columbia album, “Dirt” (its fourth release overall, including two EPs). The new album continues to mine the compelling Seattle sound of grunge rock–distinguished by heavy bass and guitar in the style pioneered by Black Sabbath–that the band forged on earlier releases. But there’s growth evident in Jerry Cantrell’s psychedelic-styled guitar playing and singer Layne Staley’s often painful lyrics. Alice is rounded out by bassist Mike Starr and drummer Sean Kinney. “We did a lot of soul-searching on this album,” Cantrell said. “There’s a lot of intense feelings; we’ve had some interesting and hard times. But along with success comes some of the darker things.” While other Seattle bands who’ve enjoyed success–notably Pearl Jam and Nirvana–appear to be having a tough time adjusting to their newfound celeb status, Alice in Chains has stayed down to earth. “Or maybe we’re better at hiding (our neuroses),” Cantrell suggested.
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