Alice in Chains
Black Gives Way to Blue


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
October 3rd, 2009 | 665 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Alice in Chains hasn't lost a step

Black Gives Way to Blue shouldn't have surprised me as much as it has. Alice in Chains were one of the most consistent bands around in their brief heyday (even the campiest parts of Facelift were still rather good), yes, but the pessimist inside me knows that fourteen years separate Alice in Chains and Black Gives Way to Blue. In that space of time, Alice in Chains' contemporaries in the Seattle grunge scene have either disbanded or fallen on hard times; last week Pearl Jam released their first worthwhile album in years, and in the case of Chris Cornell…well, you know. The death of Layne Staley was also cause for concern, not because he was the most recognisable member of the band, but because his voice helped define Alice in Chains. So was I concerned? Sure. But then I listened to it.

Jesus Christ.

It isn't even the quality of Black Gives Way to Blue that surprised me the most. Rather, the record sounds as though it was genuinely ripped straight from the band's peak years in the early 90s. Even without Staley's iconic voice, Black Gives Way to Blue is classic Alice in Chains; it's a heavy listen aesthetically and atmospherically, drawing greatly from Jerry Cantrell's (sometimes in tandem with DuVall) sludgy guitar riffs. "A Looking in View" and "Last of My Kind" are two of the band's heaviest songs to date, and sometimes borrow from metal. The latter is the more aggressive of the pair and features DuVall at the forefront, barking his angriest lines on the album. "A Looking in View" takes a more traditional route, incorporating Cantrell/DuVall vocal harmonies to the track's oppressive sound.

Not all tracks are reliant on heaviness; the layered guitars in "All Secrets Known" allow the track to retain the group's heat-choked atmosphere while adopting a melodic flair and "Acid Bubble" is a depressing, slow building number reminiscent of "Rooster". "When the Sun Rose Again" strips the distortion away Jar of Flies style; despite lacking the sheer strength of "All Secrets Known" or even accessible single "Check My Brain", the song makes for one of Black Gives Way to Blue's most powerful moments, particularly the ominous line, "Were you burned away / When the sun rose again?" The title track completely differs from past Alice in Chains works, and sees Cantrell and Elton John come together on guitar and piano respectively in one of the most moving songs Alice in Chains has ever written.

Don't get me wrong, Black Gives Way to Blue isn't an excellent album merely because it sees Alice in Chains return to the fray for the first time in fourteen years. It is a legitimately excellent record that lives up to (and sometimes even exceeds) the song writing standards set by the band on Dirt or Jar of Flies; case in point, the likes of "A Looking in View" and "When the Sun Rose Again" can be mentioned alongside some of the strongest material in their career. But the fact that Alice in Chains has released an album in 2009 is worth getting excited over. And Black Gives Way to Blue doesn't disappoint.



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user ratings (1528)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Peter K. Mark (4.5)
    Alice in Chains live on, and they're better than ever....

    AaronBatt (4.5)
    The sound of a phoenix rising from the ashes......

    ksoflas (4)
    “Black Gives Way To Blue” is a record "statement" which redefines the musical map and ...

    Ctippell (5)
    AIC rise from the ashes to create their finest work yet....

  • Chris Davanzo (4)
    Alice In Chains comes back from a fourteen year hiatus stronger than ever....

    Ryan (4)
    Believe it or not, Alice in Chains is back and better than ever....

    biakaba (3.5)
    A great effort at attaining past glory in a nostalgia fueled grunge/metal album....

    red0 (5)
    Even if it is straight out of the 1990s, Black Gives Way to Blue is about as perfect as pe...

  • Super Grover (4.5)
    The biggest compliment that can be paid to Black Gives Way to Blue is to listen expecting ...

    Nosferatwo (4)
    Alice In Chains does the impossible: they live on....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Mikesn
Emeritus
October 3rd 2009


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

had spent a couple days catching up with school work so it's a little late. whoops

Altmer
October 3rd 2009


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

100% agreed. Insane how a band can go through all that and come up with this.

combustion07
October 3rd 2009


5420 Comments


Getting this soon, I heard one of the neww songs on the radio awhile back and dug it.

fireaboveicebelow
October 3rd 2009


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you called Check My Brain - Check My Head, fyi



EVedder27
October 3rd 2009


6088 Comments


what a great surprise this album was. Solid review.

StrizzMatik
October 3rd 2009


3229 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

No mention of "Private Hell"? Sacriliege

Meatplow
October 3rd 2009


5524 Comments


damn, I missed the boat on this one

checking it out shortly

Meatplow
October 3rd 2009


5524 Comments


Yeah, this is awesome so far.

I'm up to A Looking In View

combustion07
October 3rd 2009


5420 Comments


lol love the avatar Meatplow

Nagrarok
October 3rd 2009


8316 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I was already wondering if there was to come a staff review of this. Don't agree on one point though:

"A Looking in View" and "Last of My Kind" are two of the band's heaviest songs to date, and sometimes borrow from metal.


I find that AiC have always been metallic sounding, and with Staley's death, they've become even less of a grunge and more of an alt metal act.

Meatplow
October 3rd 2009


5524 Comments


lol love the avatar Meatplow


Electro

Album is tight, but not as tight as The Parent Trap.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxtyAC59AeE

heavykevlarsuit
October 3rd 2009


151 Comments


Listened to this earlier today. Wasn't impressed but I'm going to give it a few more listens. Honestly it sounds pretty typical to me, though. It seems like it may be getting good ratings simply because people are saying "OH SHIT, STAYLEY'S DEAD AND THEY DON'T TOTALLY SUCK TOTAL ASS?"

But who knows, I'll listen to it again tonight. At least "Private Hell" was tight.

Zip
October 3rd 2009


5312 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nah this is just awesome

Mikesn
Emeritus
October 3rd 2009


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

we're just ultra-fans

I find that AiC have always been metallic sounding, and with Staley's death, they've become even less of a grunge and more of an alt metal act.
They've incorporated metal influences in the past for sure, but I've always felt they played second fiddle to the alternative sound, or whatever. They're pretty pronounced on some of the songs here though.

Roach
October 3rd 2009


2148 Comments


would i like this band idk i've never listened

Greggers
October 3rd 2009


2375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yes, they rock

KILL
October 3rd 2009


72280 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

roach you tit listen now

Digging: Throwing Muses - Throwing Muses

Roach
October 3rd 2009


2148 Comments


can't listening to dISEMBOWELMENT atm so

Relinquished
October 3rd 2009


26013 Comments


after diSEMBOWELMENT

then this.

myhigherpie
October 3rd 2009


3027 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

album was pretty shockingly good. no mention of your decision or private hell makes me sad though.





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