#16: JERRY CANTRELL (ALICE IN CHAINS)
MetalSucks recently polled its staff to determine who are The Top 25 Modern Metal Guitarists, and after an incredible amount of arguing, name calling, and physical violence, we have finalized that list! The only requirements to be eligible for the list were that the musician in question had to a) play metal (duh), b) play guitar (double-duh), and c) have recorded something in the past five years. Today we continue our countdown with Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell…
I held off on listening to Alice in Chains for a really long time. Mainly because all the ‘90s grungy metal I’d heard previously made me go meh, and that’s the genre with which I associated AiC. But when countless people told me I was stupid for thinking so and all but bullied me into listening to them, I thought maybe I should stop making assumptions. Hey, I can admit when I’m wrong.
Jerry Cantrell played a big part in changing my mind. His style is what distinguishes Alice in Chains from just another grunge band. In his words, “We’re a lot of different things… I don’t quite know what the mixture is, but there’s definitely metal, blues, rock and roll, maybe a touch of punk. The metal part will never leave, and I never want it to,” and it’s those extra elements that make Alice in Chains such a, I hesitate to say this but really there’s no better word, unique band. His riffs are often punishing, loud, and harsh but expand into slower moodier grinds that blend so well with the dual harmonizing vocals. The dark, almost nihilistic themes are always present even in the seemingly simple acoustic numbers.
With 2009’s Black Gives Way to Blue, it’s obvious how much Cantrell holds (and held) the group together. Most of the songwriting is credited to him, and the entire album still has that signature AiC sound. While acknowledging Staley and all the history there, it’s remarkable how he can just pick back up from where he left off, fourteen years later.
Beyond Alice in Chains, though, Cantrell released two solo albums, as well as appearances on various other musicians’ records, including Danzig’s Blackaciddevil, and even film soundtracks. He collaborated with Damageplan on “Ashes to Ashes” for The Punisher movie, and contributed a song for The Cable Guy.
There have been rumors of a third solo album but re-igniting and touring with Alice in Chains has put a temporary hold on that particular endeavor.
THE LIST SO FAR