Jar of Flies

Jar of Flies

4.6 11
by Alice in Chains
     
 

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Written and recorded in about a week, Jar of Flies solidified Alice in Chains' somewhat bizarre pattern of alternating full-length hard rock albums with mostly acoustic, ballad-oriented EPs. That quirk aside, Jar of Flies is a low-key stunner, achingly gorgeous and harrowingly sorrowful all at once. In a way, it's a

Overview

Written and recorded in about a week, Jar of Flies solidified Alice in Chains' somewhat bizarre pattern of alternating full-length hard rock albums with mostly acoustic, ballad-oriented EPs. That quirk aside, Jar of Flies is a low-key stunner, achingly gorgeous and harrowingly sorrowful all at once. In a way, it's a logical sequel to Dirt -- despite the veneer of calm, the songs' voices still blame only themselves. But where Dirt found catharsis in its unrelenting darkness and depravity, Jar of Flies is about living with the consequences, full of deeply felt reflections on loneliness, self-imposed isolation, and lost human connections. The mood is still hopelessly bleak, but the poignant, introspective tone produces a sense of acceptance that's actually soothing, in a funereal sort of way. Jerry Cantrell's arrangements keep growing more detailed and layered; while there are a few noisy moments, most of Jar of Flies is bathed in a clean, shimmering ambience whose source is difficult to pin down, but is well served by Cantrell's varied guitar tones and even occasional string arrangements. And coming on the heels of Dirt, the restraint and subtlety of Jar of Flies are nothing short of revelatory -- though it was written and recorded in about a week, it feels much more crafted and textured than Sap. Perhaps Jar of Flies would have gotten more credit if it had been a full-length album; as it stands, the EP is a leap forward and a major work in the Alice in Chains catalog.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/25/1994
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0074645762821
catalogNumber:
57628
Rank:
10859

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Jar of Flies 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Despite its 30 minute running time and its deeply acoustic based composition, Jar of Flies is the culmination of the styles and strengths of Alice in Chains' three previous releases. It is also their most accessible and most mature album, garnering power and beauty from its shimmering tone and deeply textured production. Layering shiny acoustic rhythm riffs together with heavy electric lead licks, Alice gave hits "I Stay Away" and "No Excuses" a hard rock kick as well as a refined, melodic undertone, something that the band had hinted at in Dirt but never immersed itself into. Jar of Flies's true soul lies, however, in the EP's lesser known gems: "Rotten Apple" is one of Alice's most brilliantly mastered and instrumentally complex numbers, while the more simple "Nutshell" haunts the listener with an astonishingly beautiful minor chord progression and a terrific lead guitar line. And the instrumental "Whale & Wasp" and the blues ballad "Don't Follow" exemplify an likeable attribute that Alice in Chains had never before revealed. In short, Jar of Flies is a refreshing successor to the dark and gritty Dirt (don't get me wrong - Dirt is excellent) and while the songs still maintain a level of disturbance and depression, Cantrell's more optimistic voice and the band's crystallized direction make this EP a must have for any hard rock fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Good tracks, unfortunately they are all of them are slow ballads apart from "I Stay Away", but I'm not complaining: it was nice to find good different kinds of songs from Alice in Chains.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though just seven songs, Jar of Flies is one of the best CDs I have ever heard. Its dark beauty is so captivating it’s hard to stop listening. From the first seconds of the EP, as the beautifully haunting bass opening to “Rotten Apple” begins, the direction of the CD is clear. It’s as if those first few seconds somehow capture the entire feel of Jar of Flies and the result is that you’re in the mood for the entire CD right from the start. It doesn’t let up from there. After the slowly unraveling gloomy “Rotten Apple,” it goes straight to “Nutshell,” the most poignantly beautiful song Alice in Chains ever recorded. It sounds almost as if Layne had stepped into a room alone with an acoustic guitar to spill his soul. It’s among his best vocal performances, as his voice retains its usual mournful depth but somehow mixes it with a subtly strained emotion as if he has faced all the weight of the world and is reflecting on it all still feeling the pain. “I Stay Away” strikes you a bit by surprise at first with its hopeful-sounding melody but it soon descends back into the pit with an eerily catchy chorus that, along with some great Jerry Cantrell picking, makes it another great song. “No Excuses” is a little bland and is, while not bad, probably my least favorite on this CD other than the out-of-place closer “Swing on This.” “Whale and Wasp” is a short (about two and a half minutes) but pretty instrumental by that starts with sadly siren-like guitar similar to that of “Rotten Apple” punctuated by pretty guitar picking then changing direction halfway through and morphing to almost a southern folksy hymn-sounding sound before changing back. “Don’t Follow” picks up right where “Nutshell” left off, crystallizing its dim resignation even farther. Jerry Cantrell takes over lead vocals here and his dry, hollow, thinner version of Layne’s vocals suits this dry, hollow, beautiful song excellently. Layne Staley enters the song near the end and harmonizes with Jerry Cantrell, and the song ends with the soulful cry “take me home.” The EP should have stopped here but for some reason AIC let the musical experimentation that characterized Jar of Flies go a little too far and took a shot at bluesy swing music on “Swing on This,” which sufficiently ruins the mood of the CD. Luckily it is at the end and can just be skipped without ruining the flow of the CD. I had high expectations for this CD but it surpassed them by far. Unpretentious yet beautiful; poignant catharsis, yet without self-pity, Jar of Flies is about as good as it gets. While Dirt was a great album but almost painful to listen to, Jar of Flies is somehow soothing even as it dumps its weight of sorrow on you. Alice in Chains was the most musically diverse band rock has ever had and this CD catches them at their best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i think this is the best album that i have ever heard by alice in chains a dont listen to that dumba$$ that said it was a balled cd hes full of sh%$. THE best song on here i think is nutshell written by and sung by layne staley himself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the one album/EP I own that has really tugged at my emotions. The vocals are so sorrowful and heartfelt that I immediately felt depressed and pitiful. Things brighten up a bit near the end, but the first 5 songs are amazingly affecting. The vocals and instruments blend like no other, one of the many gifts that Alice in Chains had. In my opinion, this is an essential recording.
AliceinChainsFanatic More than 1 year ago
I love this album. It is soothing, calming, beautiful, thought-provoking and so different from anything else AiC has ever done. This is an essential for any fans of AiC and those who are not fans... yet.
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