ALICE IN CHAINS

aliceinchainsALICE IN CHAINS – ‘The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here’
Much like the ’09 comeback Black Gives Way To Blue, masterful Seattle pioneers Alice In Chains return with another wedge of blues infused, grunge tinged, alternative metal.  Whatever we call it, its one of the most anticipated releases of the year, with good reason.  What we love about the Chains is that they’re still so true to their origins; with barely an altered tone and those spectral vocals just as dark and heavy as they were when Dirt crawled out of the underworld way back in ’92.  That’s not to say they haven’t progressed; hell to be where they are today is true testament to their beliefs as a band – the driving force and continuation of a sound honed by two individuals very much present and correct.  But where Dirt era AIC were darkly original and alternative, after a distinguished beginnning Duvall era AIC is in danger of falling a little short on character.  By that I mean, a lot of this 5th LP takes a little longer to resonate and take hold in comparison to  their highly acclaimed return.  ‘Stone’ and ‘Voices’ stand out immediately with signature grind bending riffs and acoustic hooks; Sean Kinney’s tribal thumps keeping everything in check and very neatly packaged.  The title track too has a hypnotic and haunting aura, with subtle guitar picks that evoke comparisons to Rooster and Down In A Hole.  But I find myself desperately searching for reasons to love this record; that sense of immediate satisfaction distinctly absent.  Almost like we’ve heard these songs before; our concentration and affectation averted back to the days we miss.  Take ‘Lab Monkey’ and ‘Low Ceiling’ – both relatively simplistic rockers that are distinctly AIC, but just that yard off ‘their’ pace.  ‘Breath On A Window’ is more recognisable, as is ‘Scalpel’ with a glance back to the ’95 self titled LP.  Their most ‘metal’ moment is ‘Phantom Limb’ which wields a lick Metallica have clearly missed and a hauntingly dissonant outro.  But closers ‘Hung On A Hook’ and ‘Choke’ again fall into shallow pockets of indifference, allowing the album to drift from view, rather than leave a burning brand on the arm.  I sense their are layers and hidden doorways to access greater satisfaction, but despite the lack of that real killer instinct The Devil has a lot of appeal and its great to have them back.  (7)
STEVE FLETCHER

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