Out of all the Seattle bands, I always thought that Alice In Chains were head and shoulders above the rest. Loved how they could go from heavy to acoustic, plus the harmonies of Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell are legendary. Add in that they were not the dour babies that Nirvana and Pearl Jam were and actually enjoyed being in a band made them oh so appealing. Who couldn’t love them on Headbangers Ball at the water park?
Like everyone I was devastated when Layne died of an overdose. Then when rumors of Alice In Chains reforming I was very skeptical particularly because of the unique vocal interplay. Add in the first performance we saw of new singer William DuVall was the Heart special and he did a “suspect” version of “Rooster” I was worried. Fortunately they released Black Gives Way To Blue and all doubts were relieved.
So 2013 rolls around and the band has released The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. “Hollow” was released as the early single and it is a perfect representative of the AIC sound. Crunchy down tuned guitars and those ever distinctive harmonies. Second single was “Stone” and it highlights the Sabbath influence with its’ slower pace and DEEP string bends.
I think the stand out track is the title track. With its’ lyrical theme about devout Christians that believe the devil put dinosaur fossils to confuse the masses. Lyrics aside, its’ snails pace sludge sound and verse with the singer and guitar matching notes is heavenly. Pun intended.
One of the more overlooked aspects of AIC is their ability and willingness to go outside preconceptions. That is evident again on Devil with “Voices” a song that is pretty poppy and has a chorus that sounds right out of R.E.M.’s catalog.
Unfortunately Alice In Chains seems to have a problem evolving vocally. While Jerry and William do well harmonizing, they shouldn’t do it all the time. One needs to do lead vocals more or the songs are going to sound the same. There are several tracks where sonically they never seem to get started then you add on the bland vocals and the song is doomed.
Alice In Chains will always have a place in my heart. Their catalog is legendary, including AIC v2.0. However, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here is very hit and miss. When it is good, it is good. You know the rest.
Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale
$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop
$0-Not worth the drive space