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RECORD RACK

November 05, 1995|Cheo H. Coker

ALICE IN CHAINS, "Alice in Chains"; Columbia (** 1/2)

Alice in Chains is the kind of band that Beavis and Butt-head really dig: dark themes, abrasive, riff-heavy guitar, muddy lyrics that only become discernible after repeated listenings. Ever since their signature tune "Man in a Box" roared up the charts in 1992, they've occupied the nether world between the minor-chord hard-core grunge that characterizes their Seattle compatriots Soundgarden and the grinding, booming sound of Metallica.

Their first release since 1993's "Jar of Flies" EP finds them in much the same place, shifting gears between teeth-gnashing metal, bluesy acoustic songs and pop-friendly, chorus-heavy tunes. It's only with the dynamic "Heaven Beside You" that the band breaks the formulaic chains that bind it, going acoustic to reveal some Southern rock roots. Even though the track eventually flips back to the louder, electrified sound the group is known for, "Heaven" does a beautiful job of displaying the various genres the group intermingles so well. If only the rest of the album took as many chances.

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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