Review Summary: A beautiful selection of songs that engages the listener from start to finish
As one of the most revered bands in grunge music,the news that 2013 would herald the return of Alice In Chains with a second album since their return to the music scene with DuVall at the front. Not many really predicted just how good this album would be, despite the fact that Alice In Chains are often looked at as one of the few bands who have never disappointed their fan base. Twelve tracks make up this one hour album, and not one of these will disappoint.
My personal favorite thing about this album is the way it feels like a natural culmination of everything the band has put out to date. It has the raw atmosphere of Facelift combined with the sludgy nature of Dirt and then mixes this with sprinklings of flavor from their self-titled album and the first release with DuVall.
This is an album that maintains a rather dark atmosphere throughout. Hollow kicks things off with a heavy and catchy guitar riff. Over the top of this is some lead work that just adds to the effect, before the track calms down. The riff that fuels it is still crushingly heavy but it does not seep through quite as much, and allows for focus on the remarkable voice that Mr. DuVall possesses. Many people have noted how similar his and Staley's talents are, although DuVall is a little more whiny than Staley ever was. His vocals here are really suiting for this music as he dips and dives between his higher range and lower notes. The chorus of the title track shows off some of the higher notes he can reach, and really suit the calmer nature of that particular song. Also instrumental in the creation of the atmosphere here is Cantrell's guitar work. Whilst he is not the most technically gifted of men on a guitar, he certainly has developed his own glorious style, with some very low-end riffs mixed in with some really suiting solos. Each of these songs has some rather awesome riffs that fuel them, with Phantom Limb showing this off with its really interesting, engaging opening riff as the drums build up over the top of it as the song kicks in properly.
Few could have anticipated just how masterful this release is, arguably touching toes with Dirt in terms of quality. Whilst this does not have the raw emotion of Layne Staley's troubled with addiction to power it anymore, what this release does is make a case for itself. Every member of the band is on scintillating form here, putting in a performance that's about as flawless as the Flintstone's car (yeah, i did wordplay in a review). The drumming is arguably the most bravado style of playing on any Chains release, with some really well put together beats on every song, whilst the bass is there rumbling along and anchoring the music down. The second half of Phantom Limb and the bass-only introduction to Lab Monkey are probably two of the best moments here, but the whole album pretty much slays any doubt anyone might have had about the band.
The Devil Put Dinosaurs here puts Alice In Chains on a fast track back to the forefront of the music industry with some amazing guitar work and a gorgeous vocal performance to make for perhaps their strongest album yet, although that is something that only time will tell. In twenty years, will this have aged as well as Dirt? Who knows. All that matters is that this is a masterful accomplishment.