Review Summary: A great effort at attaining past glory in a nostalgia fueled grunge/metal album.
I was as surprised as anyone that Chains had reconvened and put out fresh material seven years after the passing of Layne Staley. Vocally, Staley left big shoes to fill. Over the last decade many have tried to capture his vocal styling. Some succeeded others came off as cheap imitations. I'm glad to see that Jerry Cantrell and William DuVall reminded us of Layne's influence without trying too hard to mimick him.
The first track, "All Secrets Known" pulls us into early 90's Chains with a low tuned, steady riff with eerie lyrics and tone coming from DuVall. This is as close to Layne's ghost that the vocalist taps into the entire album and its strangley effective, almost like the late singer serenading us from the grave.
"Check My Brain" comes next and its a combination of mid-90's Alice with a taste of Boggy Depot. This is Jerry's song with DuVall singing underneath him with an excellent result. Jerry puts the wah to use on this track reminding us of his guitar skills.
"Last of My Kind" seems like a deviation from Cantrell's traditional style. It has more of metal vibe than the rest of the album. The fourth track "Your Decision" is my personal favorite. It goes back to the roots of "Sap" and "Jar of Flies" with simple chords and a nice power groove from an electric guitar that sounds fresh out of "The Whale and Wasp".
"A Looking in View" is the 5th track and is the best overall heavy song on the album. That's probably why it was the first single released. It has a nice "Facelift/Dirt" feel and reminds us of why we fell in love with Chains to begin with. Regrettably, in my opinion, after a breathless foray with five excellent songs, the album falters a bit with a forgettable threesome in "Acid Bubble, Lesson Learned and Take Her Out." However, they pull it together nicely with track 10, "Private Hell", a steady, brooding gem about self torment.
The album's namesake is last. It's Jerry's eulogy to Layne. The album does well paying tribute to the late lead singer and gives us hardcore Alice fans something to enjoy. Overall, a well made record.