Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Good new music from Alice in Chains

Black Gives Way to Blue‘ is the new release from Alice in Chains. It is their first release in 14 years and the first since the tragic death of Layne Staley, one of the two creative forces behind AIC. It’s always tough for bands to continue after the death of a key member. Led Zeppelin gave it up immediately. Blind Melon tried for years to replace Shannon Hoon and put out a weak and watery release. In AIC’s case, Staley wasn’t their only songwriter. Jerry Cantrell was a powerful creative force himself, so it could go either way.

Layneless in Chains: Not as good as I had hoped. Better than I feared.

Layneless in Chains: Not as good as I hoped. Better than I feared.

I have been through the entire album several times now and my feeling is… it’s good. Some of it is very good. Some if it is weak, but then I never liked every single track on any old AIC release either. I would say that it hits about what you would expect if you thought about if for a minute without hearing any of it. The songs are good, but they all come from one musical voice. The genius you often get from cross-fertilization of competing ideas is gone. There is one vision behind the songs and although that vision is still strong, it lacks the full depth and color of old AIC.

Still, it’s a good release and if you’re an AIC fan, not picking this up would be a mistake. Check out these songs at least.

  • All Secrets Known – The AIC you know and love. Fuzzy guitar drops triplets while Jerry Cantrell moans dark lyrics with his distinctive voice. This would be right at home on any old AIC album.
  • Check My Brain – The way they bend the guitar is certainly an unusual sound and a new thing for them but it comes on maybe a little too strong. The chorus, however, has top of the charts written all over it. It’s an incongruous song that I’ve heard 4 times now and the jury is still out on it. I think I like it, though.
  • A Looking In View – This seven minutes of hammering drums and grinding guitar with a great vocal melody and crushing chorus.
  • When the Sun Rose Again – A mellower song, like you might have found on Jar of Flies with AIC’s signature harmony vocals. However, both lines are sung by Cantrell, so they lack a little of the texture you would have gotten when Staley was alive.
  • Lesson Learned – The first time I heard this, I thought it was filler, but after a few listens, it’s growing on me a lot. The guitars never stop filling space and the lyrics are cool. It rocks.

There are a few tracks to stay away from.

  • Last of My Kind – An uninspired guitar line and a somewhat unappealing vocal melody. Cantrell sings it in earnest, but it just doesn’t work.
  • Your Decision – A forgettable song with a familiar acoustic line.
  • Acid Bubble – This is a song of two faces. The main part of the song is plodding and little dull, but when they kick it into high gear it kicks ass. I wish there was a way to get just the hard, heavy part.
  • Black Gives Way to Blue – Sadly, I’m sure this came straight from the heart, but it’s just cheesy. It’s about approaching middle age in his youth-centric business and it’s honest, but not fresh.

I loved old AIC and I’m glad they didn’t hang it up. These songs prove that the band still has something to say musically and fans will definitely enjoy it.

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October 12, 2009 - Posted by | Alternative, Hard Rock, Metal, Popular, Rock

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