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Alice In Chains: Black Gives Way To Blue


Alice In Chains

Album: Black Gives Way To Blue
Label: Virgin

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A true grunge innovator, Alice In Chains always left a better aftertaste than most of the genre’s imitators. Why guitarist Jerry Cantrell and company would risk sullying that reputation by recruiting a new singer to replace late frontman Layne Staley is anyone’s guess. The crazy thing: That risk has pretty much paid off. Black Gives Way To Blue, the group’s first album since Staley’s 2002 death, is packed with filthy, vertiginous riffs and new guy William DuVall’s impressively sympathetic growl, all of which jell to form a convincing extension of Alice In Chains’ smoky, gloomy sound. Not everything works: The cock-rock chorus of “Last Of My Kind” is both depressing and funny, and there’s doubtlessly a depth—both in timbre and in lyric—that’s missing from the Staley-less lineup. Closing the disc, the title track comes on like a modern-day “Tuesday’s Gone,” all slow, moody leads and sumptuous keys (provided, strangely enough, by Elton John)—which gets a bit unsettling when DuVall groans lyrics like “imitations are pale” and “haunted by your ghost.” In lesser hands, those words could have been suicide. But DuVall, along with the rest of Alice In Chains, has turned a questionable career move into a moving tribute—and a shockingly decent album.