This Alice in Chains' debut album only partially represents what the whole AIC thing was about. Just like many debut efforts, it mixes influences, styles and trends, and makes an impression of a band full of creativity but yet unsure of a direction they would be heading. So, we have AIC trademark sludgy riffing and slow tempos on tracks like "Sunshine" or "Confusion", or most impressive "Love, Hate, Love". But alngside them we also have more lively mid-tempo songs like "We Die Young", or "Put You Down". The intro to "I Know Somethin' (About You)" could very well be placed on any Red Hot Chili Peppers album. And the closer, "The Real Thing", is an energetic hard-rocker.
Alice in Chains clearly find their inspiration in the legacy of such notable British acts as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, taking the bluesy touch from the first band, and downtuned guitar sludge from the second. Layne Staley's very diverse vocals are at their best on this record. Obviously, drugs haven't yet taken their toll on him. As usual, Jerry Cantrell's guitar is the cornerstone of the songwriting, and he also contributes with good backing vocals, creating multi-layered vocal patterns with Layne. The rhythm-section also suites the music and presents versatility in styling.
Though the songwriting at times is debatable here, and the difference in song-styles might turn off some listeners, still it's a very recommended album. Somehow it's emotionally uplifting to me.