"Black Gives Way to Blue" (Virgin; EMI; 2009)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Fourteen years later ... and the wait was well worth it. Up until this disc hit the digital market, all of the members who made Alice in Chains a staple sound spoke about not putting some random guy on the lead singer spot just to fill a stage of musicians. I applaud them for that; it would have sounded rushed and too many people might have waved them off for trying to forcefully revive Alice.

Enter William DuVall who sang for the band Comes With The Fall. I'll admit I've never heard of him before but now everybody else has. He's got that vocal sound that helps to drive the sound of AIC. He might even have a little more power than Layne Staley and that causes Jerry Cantrell to dig a little deeper when he plays. DuVall also plays acoustic and helps to add an extra layer of guitar.

The title is in direct recognition of Layne Staley. The lyrics are not dark or depressing but they are about everyday life and sometimes that can be fuel for plenty of records. For those who never got to hear AIC, this is a great album for those who speak about music changing direction but have never heard it taken there.

The guitar of Jerry Cantrell is gritty and his riffs are just as low as you would want. He bends those strings to make his gitfiddle cry with pain but can ease the mood with a simple solo. There is plenty of distortion and the loudness war is being fought on all levels. The rest of the band sounds tight and even though a new singer stands where a legend fell, Alice In Chains has given their fans and critics something to talk about for a long time.

Alice In Chains: Jerry Cantrell vocals, lead guitar; William DuVall vocals, rhythm guitar; Mike Inez bass guitar; Sean Kinney drums.

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"Facelift" (Columbia; 1990)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

What can you say about this debut release that doesn't involve incredible accolades? Alice in Chains blew us away when they stepped onto the scene. The vocals were powerful, the guitar was a breath of fresh air and the music captured on this 1990 grunge-infected musing spawned so many other bands (Godsmack, Dust For Life, add your own).

The creepy brooding vocal style of Layne Staley (RIP) and Jerry Cantrell's harmonizing made for some awesome singing. I think that Alice In Chains could easily be voted the band that most people recognize as the kings of grunge. Cantrell's guitar work is nothing short of amazing because of the heavy metal aspect that was fused with the grunge sound.

AIC weren't noisy, they were controlled and the music had more heart and soul that we were used to. Eighties heavy metal was a lot of show and when these Seattle boys hit the stage everybody took notice. When AIC did slow a song down the music was still primo; the guitar slithered along and created a gritty sound that attached itself to your memory.

Many people have this disc and usually cue up the recognizable hits that radio dropped every chance they could. I invite you to spin this classic and revisit a few of the lost tracks.

Radio hits, "Man In The Box," "Sea Of Sorrow," "Bleed The Freak."

My "lost" favorites, "We Die Young," "It Ain't Like That," "Put You Down," and "I Know Somethin (Bout You)."

Alice In Chains: Layne Staley vocals; Jerry Cantrell guitar, backing vocals; Mike Starr bass; Sean Kinney drums, percussion.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2010 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 07 Aug 2023 21:18:44 -0400.