"Who the fuck is Alice?"

 

Jerry Cantrell - Degradation Trip

 

 

The Band

Jerry Cantrell-Vocals, Guitar
Robert Trujillo-Bass
Mike Bordin-Drums


The Track Listing

1. Psychotic Break-4:09
2. Bargain Basement Howard Hughes-5:39
3. Anger Rising-6:15
4. Angel Eyes-4:45
5. Solitude-4:01
6. Mother's Spinning In Her Grave (Glass Dick Jones)-3:46
7. Hellbound-6:46
8. Give it a Name-4:02
9. Castaway-4:59
10. She Was My Girl-3:59
11. Chemical Tribe-6:36
12. Spiderbite-6:38
13. Locked On-5:37
14. Gone-5:08

 

Many Alice in Chains fans have said that Degradation Trip is a lost Alice in Chains album; the unofficial fourth album. Those fans would be right. Degradation Trip has all the characteristics both musically and lyrically that Alice in Chains was always known for. Of course, this album has none of the members of the band in it, except for Jerry Cantrell, but fans still believe it as the Alice in Chains album that could've been.

Degradation Trip should be looked at as more than just a lost Alice in Chains album. A few months before its release, Layne Staley passed away due to a drug overdose. What Cantrell accomplishes with Degradation Trip is a tribute to the fallen lead singer, in the loosest of terms. Throughout the album, Cantrell seems to be singing from the heart about Staley, as Cantrell experienced the fall of a great vocalist due to the demons that haunted him.

Obviously, this makes for a somber and depressing listen. The fact that the album is also 72 minutes long doesn't help matters. While it is a very dark album, Degradation Trip is also a satisfying listen. Cantrell has always had a knack for songwriting during his tenure in Alice in Chains and this skill translates perfectly into his solo career.

The songs range from doom metal to a more poppy hard rock and everything in between. Opening track "Psychotic Break" is slow paced and sounds like a modern Black Sabbath track. On the other end, "She Was My Girl" has a bouncy riff to it and is the catchiest song that Cantrell has ever written. Hell, it was actually included on the Spider Man soundtrack.

Cantrell brings out the acoustic guitars as well to augment the foreboding mood. "Solitude" is directed at Staley and is a soft, acoustic number that highlights Cantrell's vocals. Closer "Gone" is also a soft song, but unlike all the other songs on the album, there is a feeling of hopefulness that Cantrell brings across to the listener. "Gone" is the brief sun ray in a sky full of dark clouds.

For me, the highlight of the album is the trio of "Anger Rising," "Angel Eyes," and "Solitude." While each of these songs has nothing much in common lyrically, there is something about them that makes me think of them as one epic 15 minute song. Let me explain; "Anger Rising" is, obviously, a song full of hatred and venom towards somebody (it is also my personal favorite song). "Angel Eyes" gets through this hatred and brings a feeling of want and regret at the lost of a loved one (it is also another personal favorite of mine, with some of the best songwriting on the entire album). Finally, "Solitude" is the climax of all these feelings, a sense of depression, loneliness, and worthlessness. The songs just slowly work their way through these emotions and I really feel as they could have been put together as a whole. That's just me though; I would be interested to see how all of you perceive my opinion.

The last think I want to comment on is the epic nature of many of the songs. A few of the songs are over five minutes long, and one or two almost reach the seven minute mark. Cantrell knocks these songs out of the park; while some artists struggle to make a song interesting for more than four minutes, Cantrell seems to be at his best when it comes to the longer tracks. "Hellbound" is a perfect blend of hard rock and metal, driven by Robert Trujillo's pulsing bass work. "Spiderbite" is one of the most underrated songs that Cantrell has ever written. The song is bass heavy, like many of the other tracks, but the song has a middle acoustic section which is, dare I say, beautiful. Cantrell lets out these soulful vocals as he slowly strums on an acoustic guitar. It's a brief interlude, the calm before the storm, but it works because Cantrell is a confident enough singer and songwriter to pull it off.

Jerry Cantrell puts in a stellar performance on guitar, with some unique solos and heavy riffs throughout. His vocal work is also great; I would have to say that Degradation Trip is his best performance and Cantrell is able to show why he is an underrated singer in rock music.

While Cantrell had his band mates as his rhythm section on Boggy Depot, Degradation Trip used Ozzy Osbourne's rhythm section, which was, at the time, Robert Trujillo on bass and Mike Bordin on drums. These two fit Cantrell's style very well. Trujillo is the driving force behind many of the songs and Bordin is able to keep a steady beat and provide a solid backdrop for Cantrell.

Degradation Trip is an album that should have made Jerry Cantrell a household name. All the pieces were in place; a catchy single, the Alice in Chains past, and a great sound. Even with the airplay "Anger Rising" got, the album didn't sell nearly as well as it should have. Blame it on the mainstream public or on the record company. It doesn't really matter. I don't think the public could really handle what Cantrell brought to the table. Any fans of Alice in Chains are doing themselves a great injustice if they skipped out on Degradation Trip. While Cantrell may never again release another solo album (or at least until Alice in Chains: Version 2 finishes up or takes time off), I wouldn't care. Degradation Trip is the highlight of Cantrell's entire career and is as underrated as underrated can get.

 

Source: MARCIANO, Dan. What The Hell Happened To... 03.31.08: Jerry Cantrell - Degradation Trip . 411mania.com [online]. 2008 [cit. 2008-10-10]. Dostupný z WWW:


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