The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time

The most headbangable records ever, from Metallica's Black Album to Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid'

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Alice in Chains, 'Dirt' (1992)
100
26/100

26. Alice in Chains, 'Dirt' (1992)

Before grunge hit the mainstream, the movement owed more to metal than any other rock subgenre. The heaviness of Black Sabbath and Metallica directly informed how the leaders of the Seattle scene approached songs that tackled depression, drug addiction, death and disillusionment. While Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden expanded beyond metal, Alice in Chains remained the grittiest and most true to the genre's influence, crafting the dark, weighty and foreboding Dirt. From the fierce, nightmarish riffing of "Them Bones" to the eerily anthemic "Would?" (released earlier in 1992 on the Singles soundtrack), the album is an intense listen, with Jerry Cantrell's steely guitar often melding with singer Layne Staley's raspy belt. Songs like "Sickman" and "God Smack" lumber forward with jarring art-metal rhythms, while hit single "Rooster" channels the album's brooding vibe into an unexpectedly poignant ballad about Staley's Vietnam-vet father. A few years later, the singer would come to regret addressing heroin use and addiction on songs like "Hate to Feel" and "Junkhead," telling Rolling Stone that the fan response to his lyrics is what caused him to rethink his approach. "I didn't think I was being unsafe or careless," he said, before noting that he felt like he was "walking through hell" in the years following his descent into addiction. "I didn't want my fans to think that heroin was cool. But then I've had fans come up to me and give me the thumbs up, telling me they're high. That's exactly what I didn't want to happen." B.S.

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