By ALYSSA HOLCOMB
Growing up with Chains’ music, I would have to say I’ve been pretty hooked when it comes to the band’s simple intensity and hard harmonies. Oxymorons aside, their new record The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here exhibits the same type of intensity and harmonies, but falls a bit short of a rock and roll asteroid.
Album opener “Hollow” starts off well enough, vocalist William Duvall (who replaced the late Layne Staley) mixing nicely with guitarist Jerry Cantrell overtop hard riffs that are typical Chains style. “Pretty Done” and “Stone” are much the same as the first, with drawling vocals filling the sound out. “Voices” brings an acoustic tone in, a nice reprieve with a more balanced vocal style – one voice doesn’t stand out too much, and it makes for a good track.
The title track is slow, but unlike the band’s other measured tracks, this one never picks up. This is my general issue with the album – the standard Chains sound is there, but there is something holding it back from breaking the threshold and becoming great.
However, tracks like “Low Ceiling” and “Breath On A Window” show more promise with more upbeat tempos (an interesting segue from the dragging “Lab Monkey.”) The thrashing “Phantom Limb” is arguably the album’s hardest rocker, with a heavier guitar sound more prominent from the beginning. The album ends with two slower pieces, “Hung On A Hook” and “Choke,” proving that while the album has tempo transitions, they are not necessarily well thought out.
The album is not “bad,” but to me, it doesn’t stand out. Amongst their other albums, even their last record Black Gives Way To Blue, this record doesn’t have a track that really stood out, with “Hollow” coming the closest. Loyal Chains listeners will recognize the same style, but for this listener, it lacked some of the intensity that truly makes the band.
Alice In Chains will tour throughout the globe this summer. For more information, check out their official website: www.aliceinchains.com.