Here’s a reprint of my review of the new Alice In Chains album that ran in Hot Press.
ALICE IN CHAINS
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (Virgin)
Key Track: ‘Low Ceiling’
SEMINAL SEATTLEITES UNVEIL SOLID NEW CHAPTER
For so many reasons you have to admire Alice In Chains’ massive set of balls. Not only have the seminal Seattle band made the doubters eat their words by reforming with their dignity intact, they’ve managed to pull off the near unthinkable and found a singer (William Duvall) who is up to the task of carrying on from where the dearly departed former frontman Layne Staley left off. They’ve also done it all on their own terms and taken the time needed to make new music rather than giving in to the temptation of accepting a quick pay-day and embarking on a nostalgia-riddled tour of the usual rock festivals and for that, we tip our collective caps in admiration.
The Devil Put The Dinosaurs Here is the band’s second record since their resurrection and it’s a typically dark and brooding opus full of Jerry Cantrell’s trademark sludge-laden riffs and diabolically good harmonies. As with any Alice album post their iconic ’92 LP Dirt, the band’s fifth full length is one that requires (and deserves) time to incubate. A much more rewarding listen than ’09’s Black Gives Way To Blue, this album is focused and confident and there are plenty of treats on offer.
Album opener ‘Hollow’ is vintage Alice and full of that primal power of old, while ‘Voices’ could be a relative of the Jar Of Flies classic ‘No Excuses.’ There are a few gambles on the record too, with the band trying their hands at country (‘Scalpel’) and poking fun at not only the moral majority (“The devil put the dinosaurs here/Jesus don’t like a queer” they observe on the title track) and themselves (“Old Mr Fun is back/Wonder where he’s been hiding at?” they croon on the stand-out ‘Low Ceiling’) while elsewhere DuVall gets time to shine (‘Phantom Limb’).
Granted, the spectre of Staley never really leaves the record and they don’t quite match the sheer genius of the likes of ‘Man In The Box,’ but there’s no denying that it’s good to have the ‘Sludge Factory’ back in business.