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Alice is a slightly more lighthearted affair than the band's previous album, Dirt, although angsty co-frontman Layne Staley remains snarly, and guitar man Cantrell continues to leave offerings at the temple of Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi. But the range of expression is wider, the instrumentation more varied (the odd acoustic guitar line, for example), and a flash of humor appears now and again, as in the almost cheerful "Nothin' Song." Of the two, Cantrell possesses the less distinctive (and less irritating) voice, although he's probably the better writer. His album-closing "Over Now" makes the most tuneful use of the band's twin penchants for close harmony and big guitars.

-- David Dudley

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