There is so much power, beauty and intensity to the new Alice In Chains record “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” and quite frankly it is an even bigger triumph than the band’s first album without Layne Staley “Black Gives Way to Blue” which came out in 2009. The reason why it is such a triumph is because after losing such a vital part of their band – lead singer Layne Staley who passed away in 2002 – the band have managed to re-unite and continue their journey with grace never forgetting but also doing their best at moving forward.
When I first encountered Alice In Chains without Layne Staley back on 2009’s “Black Gives Way To Blue” I must admit to being against the idea of the band continuing. I have been a fan of the band since I was 13 going on 14 and just couldn’t picture an Alice In Chains without that amazing voice of Layne Staley out the front. After I devoured “Black Gives Way To Blue” for the first time I was convinced that the band had indeed moved on to a new era and it sounded so fucking awesome. It still had the flavour and mood of previous Alice In Chains albums but there was a new story to be told and I regret not being 100 per cent behind and in love with the way the bands new singer William DuVall has slotted into the band from the beginning, he really belongs out the front out of this band in regards to their move into the future.
This brings me back to “The Devil Puts Dinosaurs Here” which is hands down a career highlight for the band. It picks up beautifully where “Black Gives Way To Blue” did and drives the dense dark sound of Alice In Chains into its third decade as a band.
I wish I could explain why the music of Alice In Chains resonates so deeply with me because if I could plug you in to what I’m feeling when I listen to them then maybe you’d understand that they are more than just a “rock” band. There is this this mood and spooky kind of darkness that swirls all through their music and it has a beautiful capacity to heal all that pain and cruelty encountered during the course of your life. There is also the sheer brutality of it mixed with the heavenly sense of melody which frames the riffs with this amazing power. I firmly believe that it is those multi-layered vocal harmonies that give the songs of Alice In Chains their intensity. They act as this choir of doom but through that doom you are elevated to such a beautiful realm of bliss. It just feels so nice having it all wash over you after you’ve been emotionally injured. Perhaps I’m totally wrong but on both of the post-Layne albums there seems to be this intentional space left on each song, almost out of respect to Layne, where he would of slotted in with his vocal. I may just be searching way to deeply in these songs but I firmly believe that whether or not it is intentional or not there is a Layne sized space in each of these new songs. That in itself is a positive thing and again, perhaps I’m searching way too deeply into it but it feels like this weird sign of respect to his legacy with the band.
On “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” I’m reminded of everything I love about Alice In Chains and how influential they are as a rock n roll band. So many bands borrow the dynamics of this band but few of them rarely reach the depth. I think it is because they lack that special darkness that swirls inside each member of the band (both past and present). The future of this band is set in stone and I can’t wait to welcome more albums from Alice In Chains to the world.
10 Cassette Tapes out of 10
By: Dan Newton