Album review

Jerry Cantrell : Degradation Trip

Jerry Cantrell : Degradation TripMy, my. There goes that old hindsight thing again. I never realised just how much of Alice In Chains Jerry Cantrell was. Previous album Boggy Depot could well have been an Alice album with Cantrell carrying the can - which he showed he was capable of on the Alice In Chains' Unplugged session.
    It must have been a tough few years for the man, and Degradation Trip really shows how much that load has shifted from band focus to personal focus.

Degradation Trip is good enough to take Cantrell to a whole different ballpark, That of course depends largely on the marketing budget set aside for such things, but you can't fault the work ethic if it doesn't pan out. Cantrell is coming from the same house that Alice In Chains haunted so well, but instead of dealing with it in a (dare I say it) 'grunge' fashion, the feeling has been harnessed as anger, and is driven home with some force. The Robbie Williams of the Seattle scene. Hardly, but you get the picture.
    The opener Psychotic Break pretty much sets the tone for the whole album and while songs may come and go, such is the strength of the album, that it's impact doesn't lessen with some track reshuffling (which is always a good test of how good an album really is). Give It A Name is surely destined for some airplay somewhere along the line as is the irrepressible Spider Bite.

If you're looking for a point of reference to make a buying decision from, there's not a lot I can tell you. It's all very Alice In Chains like, but better for Cantrell being in control. Let's face it; brilliant and well loved as Layne Staley was, he was hardly capable of fronting Alice like he used to. There's certainly been no Rooster strutting around in that park for a good few years. No. Hand on heart, I can honestly say that this is the best album that Alice In Chains never made - so a tip of the hat must go to Mike Inez for taking just enough of a back seat in what could ultimately be the reinvention of a stale formula.
    As one naturally inclined to look to the future, I think Degradation Trip will make it to the end of year polls still in the top ten. If not, then it's going to be a mighty fine year for albums.

:: Sion Smith

Go to top of page
Latest articles

Alone in the dark: Buffy The Vampire Slayer bows out in style with the Season Seven DVD Collection.

Johnny Knoxville plays him in the movie Grand Theft Parsons, but counterculture speaks to the man himself: Phil Kaufman interviewed.