Yes, exactly, shame on me for not listening to the latest Alice in Chains album earlier! I don’t know how but I simply overslept some of the cool albums of the last year. Maybe it was because I was on the road pretty often and when I wasn’t travelling, I was completely loaded with work. Ok, no excuses from now on (“Find me sittin’ by myself | No excuses that I know” X-D).
What am I supposed to say? The album is stunning! I am not a hard-core Alice in Chains fan but I have always appreciated them a lot and I followed their career from Dirt and up (possibly because in my part of the world nobody had ever heard of Alice in Chains prior to Dirt). And, somehow, since the death of Layne Staley, Alice in Chains somehow… slipped my mind. Of course, I was watching Jerry Cantrell closely and checked what was he doing but new plans, getting William DuVall as the new vocalist – I had no clue about it all.
And? Frankly? It’s amazing. I am not expecting DuVall to become the new Layne Staley, I am not even expecting him to sound similar. But he DOES sound similar. His voice is definitely different than Staley’s, I would probably put it somewhere mid-way between Staley and Chris Cornell. But parts which are sang together with Cantrell remind you of the old Alice in Chains so much that, somehow, I did not feel disappointed, uncomfortable or uneasy by the sole fact that it’s somebody different than Staley. DuVall’s voice is softer and higher than Staley’s but still – he’s doing a great job. It’s very emotional, with the amazing vibrato and a fantastic expression – even in the more calm songs (for example, Your Decision). The other musicians are as brilliant as ever and they’re in their top form (amazing guitar-solo in Last of My Kind, which is one of my favorite songs of the album – totally stunning!)
I am looking forward to the future of Alice in Chains with lots of expectations. Last month Jerry Cantrell stated that he did not see any reason for which recording a new album in the nearest future would not happen. Let’s hope so!
The album itself is sort of a coming back to the roots of Alice in Chains. The atmosphere, doubled vocals, rhythm, guitar riffs – it’s all a sort of a tribute to the earlier works of the band. However, it doesn’t mean that the band is stuck with imitating what they had created prior to Black Gives Way to Blue. It’s clear that the album was recorded by very creative and mature musicians. Listening to it I had a feeling that it somehow should be an example of how a path of a musician should look like – constantly developing and consequent. Of course, there are bands which changed their style and experimented with different things and I’m not saying it’s wrong. Absolutely not. But in this case I am absolutely thrilled by how Alice in Chains forged their new album out of what they had been doing earlier. This is slow, consequent advancement that I value so much, that – I think – is not valued enough in this world, and, finally, that I would probably compare to the difference between Tool’s Ænima and 10.000 Days – showing that you’re truly devoted to something, true to what you’re doing and, still, being able to progress, develop, change. Therefore, I am absolutely taken by this record – and very surprised (in a positive meaning of this word) cause it’s a huge relief to listen to something like that knowing that so many bands gave up, totally abandoned their former achievements or got stuck in the same point not knowing how to get out of the cage that they themselves had created.
P.S. Don’t you find it odd that both Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley died circa April 5th? Ugh… Creepy!