Alice in Chains: Black Gives Way To Blue CD Impressions
Label: Virgin Records
Release Date: September 29, 2009
ALICE IN CHAINS Jerry Cantrell – guitars/vocals Sean Kinney – drums Mike Inez – bass William DuVall – guitars/vocals The new Alice In Chains album Black Gives Way To Blue is the sound of a new beginning of a legendary band returning to life. Right from the album’s powerful and deeply meaningful opener “All Secrets Known” through its redemptive closing title track, Black Gives Way To Blue-the first new Alice In Chains album in more than 14 years-is not just another rock reunion, but something far more inspiring. Alice In Chains in the present tense. No replacements. No substitutions. It does no disrespect to the enduring memory of Alice In Chains’ late, great lead singer Layne Staley, to say that for all that he brought to the group’s music in his lifetime, Alice In Chains always was-and always will be-very much a band. So after taking a more than respectful break to mourn the loss of their brother and band mate-to heal and explore music individually-the surviving members of Alice In Chains-Cantrell, drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Inez-gradually began to make music again. The band came together for the first time in 2005 to take part in a benefit for the victims of the tsunami in Indonesia. The following year, Cantrell, Kinney and Inez decided that the time was right for Alice In Chains to reclaim its legacy again on tour. They did so with the help of a new guitarist and vocalist William DuVall, a gifted singer and player in his own right from Atlanta who previously worked with Neon Christ, Comes with the Fall, and as part of Jerry Cantrell’s touring band. As live audiences discovered, DuVall brings a sound and stage presence all his own.
Yet when DuVall and Cantrell blend their voices-as Cantrell and Staley did so often-there could be little doubt that the spirit of Alice In Chains was once again alive and well.I’m VERY happy with how it turned out. Is it the old classic AIC? Not quite.
Musically it sounds like AIC, but the vocals of Jerry and William change the dynamic some. Jerry was doing backing vocals or sharing parts of the lead vocals on the old AIC records with Layne. On this CD Jerry is on every song mainly in the lead singer role. Jerry and William have a really good dynamic. Sometimes William blends in too well with Jerry, but he’s backing on nearly all the tracks too that Jerry takes lead on.
It’s a 90s rock CD and I love it. I love the 90s rock since those guys had so much talent. I enjoyed the Candlebox CD, “Into the Sun” that was released last year since it sounded like a 90s rock record.
It’s not a knock on the ’00s rock bands since some of them are very good as well. There’s really very few rock bands of the 00’s that have had a CD that sounds this good sonically and musically. The only 00s rock band to really have me go “damn that was good overall” was the 2008 Shinedown CD, “The Sound of Madness” and the CD from the Fringe Christan Rock Band, RED “Innocence and Instinct.”
People on many boards over the Internets are bitching about how this is a slap in the face to Layne. That he’s turning over in his grave. That Layne was AIC, etc. I loved the band how it was. I loved what Layne brought to it vocally and lyrically on the songs he wrote. The thing is that people that nut hug Layne Staley like to forget that Jerry wrote all the music and wrote the majority of the songs. Layne only wrote half of the lyrics on all the songs that they did. It’s how it was and it worked. If you take Jerry from Layne you were left with the band Mad Season. Mad Season was good, but it was no Alice in Chains. Mad Season would have never exploded into the huge band that Alice in Chains became.
Then the next complaint is that the CD sounds like Jerry’s solo CDs. In a way they do, but that’s how Alice in Chains was going to sound since, again, Jerry Cantrell IS THE SOUND of Alice in Chains.
People can get on Jerry for doing a new CD 14yrs later. Bands move on at some point. And it’s not like the sound has changed or that they’ve bastardized the way the vocals are done. It’s still Alice in Chains.
If it wasn’t for Layne’s nasty drug habit that killed him who knows how much bigger they would have gotten. They have great music that has sustained. The CD Facelift is nearly 20yrs old and radio still plays “Man In the Box.” They are one of the few 90s rock bands that still gets moderate airplay. The Layne Staley fans that are ripping on the Jerry only have one person to blame. Layne.
Overall Quality: 10/10