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Music / Dirt (Album)

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"Into the flood again…"

Dirt is the second album by American grunge/alternative metal band Alice in Chains (although it’s much better known than their first). It was released on September 29, 1992, and recorded between April and July of the same year. It was the band's last album recorded with all four original members, as bassist Mike Starr was fired in January 1993 during the album's tour.

The album’s lyrics center on dark subject matter including depression, anti-social behavior, drug addiction (primarily heroin), war, and death. Most of the songs were written by guitarist Jerry Cantrell, but vocalist Layne Staley also contributed songwriting for the first time, writing two songs by himself ("Hate to Feel" and "Angry Chair").

Dirt is considered one of the most seminal albums of the grunge era, as well as one of the greatest grunge and alternative metal albums of all time (although it's occasionally been categorized as doom metal). Rolling Stone ranked it at #26 on its list of the 100 greatest metal albums of all time, and #6 on its list of the 50 greatest grunge albums. It also peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200 chart and has since been certified 5× Platinum by the RIAA, making it the band's highest-selling album. It was additionally remastered in 2022.

The album was supported by five singles: "Would?", "Them Bones", "Angry Chair", "Rooster", and "Down in a Hole".


  1. "Them Bones" (2:30)
  2. "Dam That River" (3:09)
  3. "Rain When I Die" (6:01)
  4. "Down In A Hole" (5:38)
  5. "Sickman" (5:29)
  6. "Rooster" (6:15)
  7. "Junkhead" (5:09)
  8. "Dirt" (5:16)
  9. "Godsmack" (3:56)
  10. "Dream Sequence/Iron Gland" (0:43) feat. Tom Araya
  11. "Hate To Feel" (5:15)
  12. "Angry Chair" (4:48)
  13. "Would?" (3:28)

Principal Members:

  • Jerry Cantrell: guitars, backing vocals, acoustic guitar
  • Sean Kinney: drums
  • Layne Staley: lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Mike Starr: bass

I! I! I believe them Tropes are me...

  • Break-Up Song:
    • "Rain When I Die," somewhat: the lyrics draw a parallel between a relationship breaking down and some king of drawn-out dying.
    • "Down in a Hole", written by Jerry for his then-girlfriend, has a sense of inevitability that veers into 'impending breakup' territory.
      Jerry: ["Down in a Hole" is] to my long-time love. It's the reality of my life, the path I've chosen and in a weird way it kind of foretold where we are right now. It's hard for us to both understand...that this life is not conducive to much success with long-term relationships.
  • Concept Album: The album can be interpreted as one, with the first half depicting the reasons people are drawn to drug use (Depression, a feeling of meaninglessness and PTSD from war.) and the second half describing the effects drugs have on people and how they only make it worse.
  • Darker and Edgier: compared to the still Glam Metal influenced Facelift and the gentle acoustic Sap, Dirt is both much heavier musically and much bleaker lyrically.
  • Dated History: "Rooster" repeats the assertion that Vietnam vets were spat on after returning from the war. Studies published since the release of the album have concluded that very little evidence supports that Vietnam veterans were spat upon by anti-war protestors, though it's certainly possible that isolated incidents really did happen.
  • Doom Metal: Many songs on the album qualify as such, with the slow tempos, Epic Riffs and depressing lyrics.
  • Downer Ending: "Would?" is musically softer then the other songs, but just as dark lyrically, concerning the late Andrew Wood (of Malfunkshun & Mother Love Bone) and his fatal heroin addiction. It's made darker yet again by the similarities with Layne Staley's own slow demise.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Over half of the songs in some way are this. "God Smack" and "Junkhead" stand out particularly.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Nowhere near as pronounced as on Facelift, but still present. The album overall has more of a mix of Alternative Metal and straight Doom Metal, whereas the next 4 albums they'd produce would veer more towards Sludge Metal territory. It also noticeably lacks any mostly acoustic songs in the vein of their two EPs, something that every subsequent album would have
  • Evil Laugh: “Iron Gland”, courtesy of Tom Araya.
  • Fun with Homophones: "Would?" is dedicated to Andrew Wood. Y'know. Andrew "Would?"
  • Grief Song: "Down in a Hole" and "Would?".
  • Re-Cut: "Down in a Hole" was originally the penultimate track of the album; a few months after the original release, the order changed so "Down in a Hole" appeared as track 4 instead.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: In comparison to the musically dour mood of the rest of the album, "God Smack" is a rather upbeat and poppy song (albeit with lyrics every bit as dark as those on the rest of the album).
  • Take That!: "Dam That River" was written by Sean Kinney as a diss against Jerry Cantrell. Despite being the singer of this song, Layne had no real involvement with their fight.

Alternative Title(s): Dirt