Review Summary: Alice In Chains comes back from a fourteen year hiatus stronger than ever.
The death of a front man, battles of drug addiction and a fourteen year hiatus have done little to stop Alice In Chains. The band is still alive and kicking after going through countless struggles.
Alice In Chains, a grunge band most well known for their work during the 1990s in the Seattle grunge scene, have come out with “Black Gives Way To Blue,” a album that serves as a reflection of their career and all of the tough times every band member has gone through over the years.
What makes this album a very good piece of music is that it brings back the nostalgia of the 1990s Alice In Chains that will receive heavy praise for die-hard Alice In Chains fans. It is a great album for fans of the 90s grunge scene, fans of not only Alice In Chains but bands such as Soundgarden and Nirvana.
Alice In Chains has not lost a step, not even with the death of their former lead singer Layne Staley in 2002, when Staley overdosed on a mixture of heroin and cocaine. Instead, they have come back as a strong, organized unit who sounds like they have been performing together for over ten years. New vocalist William DuVall harmonizes well with frontman and lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell that they sound like they have been performing with each other for years. Standout tracks with this duo coupled together are “When The Sun Rose Again”, “Check My Brain”, “A Looking In View”, and the title track.
The first hit single of the album, “Check My Brain”, opens with Black Sabbath sounding chords that makes the song sound extremely heavy for a grunge band. It is mesmerizing, hypnotic and can instantly be placed at the top tier of Alice In Chains’ greatest work. It is almost as good as one of their most well known songs “Man In The Box” from their 1990 album “Facelift.” Unfortunately, the album did not begin with this tune.
The title track is a tribute Staley. Jerry Cantrell puts his heart into this song and it is an excellent tribute to a formerly great artist. This is one of the most powerful songs Alice In Chains has ever made, even greater than “Nutshell.” The piano man, Elton John, accompanies Alice In Chains on this song and though it seems like a mixture of water and oil, the two create an extremely personal, moving song. Elton John’s subtle piano work put together with Cantrell’s vocals and guitar parts are one of the most magical moments on the entire album
Though this album may a great work of music, it is not without its negatives. It starts with the very first song on the album. “Black Gives Way To Blue” starts off on the wrong note, with the song “All Secrets Known.” With an album burdened with such importance and hype it is terrible to see that a band with such prestige as Alice In Chains would open with such a slow song. It seems as though it is just there to kill four and a half minutes. Some of the other songs, such as “Lesson Learned” and “Take Her Out” have a similar reflection of mediocrity. “Your Decision” actually sounds very similar to a typical song from Staind and that is probably the last band Alice In Chains wanted to sound like.
For grunge fans, this album is a triumph for Alice In Chains that could rank among some of the greatest work the band has ever produced. It is a near perfect blend of the heaviness and sheer force of 1992’s “Dirt” and the emotional power of their greatest album “Jar Of Flies.” Alice In Chains has done what no one would have expected them to do: they have not only survived, they have lived on.
Recommended Tracks: Check My Brain, When The Sun Rose Again, Black Gives Way To Blue