Alice In Chains – Black Gives Way To Blue

Layne Staley is gone and this album is not Dirt. For some people that’s enough to disregard this new album. If you can come to terms with this truth, have a listen to ‘Black Gives Way to Blue’, the fantastic new album from Alice In Chains.

Alice In Chains have not been prolific, but their catalogue is of exceptional quality. They have consistently achieved a complex and challenging sound comprised of simple components, a band that is greater than the sum of its parts. ‘Black Gives Way to Blue’ continues in this rich vein. The vocal harmonies remain as do the unorthodox scales and dissonant chord changes evoking the discomfort and turmoil so characteristic of AIC.

‘All Secrets Known’ is an excellent opener the sound moves from a disorienting verse to a suffocating and overwhelming chorus. ‘Check My Brain’ is the first real opportunity for William DuVall to show us what he can do and his voice proves an excellent foil for Cantrell.

‘Last Of My Kind’ is a nice slice of heavy on the album, a distinct contrast to the requiem ‘Your Decision’. ‘A Looking In View’ was the first glimpse that we had of this album, both tense and menacing. The vocal parts for ‘When The Sun Rose Again’ are transcendent and mesmerising, a truly dreamlike song.

‘Acid Bubble’ is a jarring juxtaposition, an oozing theme punctuated with a staccato section. The trio of ‘Lesson Learned’, ‘Take Her Out’ and ‘Private Hell’ take the album to it’s conclusion. Elton John provides the piano part for the title track, a mournful lament to the late Layne Staley. The song ends far too soon, leaving the album with a sense of unresolved melancholy.

‘Black Gives Way To Blue’ is a meticulously performed and produced album, their best studio album in 14 years. While ‘Black Gives Way to Blue’ does not have the same desperation or bleak nihilistic despair of previous offerings it is certainly emotive and definitely visceral and the sound is AIC through and through. Previous albums have felt helpless in the face of self-inflicted adversity this album is reflective, an appraisal of the moments that led to the now. It is difficult to know if this album is an attempt to make sense of all that has come to pass or simply an acceptance of what has been, and letting go.


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