Monday 12 October 2009

Alice In Chains Chases Away The Demons

Alice in Chains found a new singer in William DuVall and now there's a new record. It took 14 years to recover from the death of singer Layne Staley. Where do you go in a music world that has changed so drastically? And how do you continue without a singer that is so important and identifying?

Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way To Blue (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Not only was Staley their fellow band member but also a long time friend. So it wasn't just about replacing the band's singer but also a process of continuing without a close friend. When they added DuVall this was their incentive: finding a singer so they could continue making music with this band. And they have done so with this new album. DuVall doesn't try to imitate Staley but his vocals still come close now and then. More importantly his voice goes perfectly with their powerful and dark music. The harmonies with Cantrell's vocals and guitar sound are great as in their old days. The album itself is all about picking up their lives after loosing their friend and how to make it through a dark time.

That dark time is the part that dominates the album mostly. Dark but strong grooves (like "Check My Brain" and "Lesson Learned") alternate with beautiful accoustic ballads (like "Your Decision", "When The Sun Rose Again"). And some tunes clearly carry the distinctive and characteristic Alice in Chains mark like "A Looking in View". They seem determined to get even with their demons and chase them away forever. The album's first lines are "Hope, a new beginning. Time, to start living" in opening track "All Secrets Known". At the same time they deliver one of the best rock albums of the moment. Together with their strong live performances they have stepped out of the dark and into the light. And so the future looks bright for Alice In Chains and black gives way to blue: "Lay down, black gives way to blue. Lay down, I'll remember you". I'm sure Staley will approve and can rest in peace.

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