Alice in Chains

Black Gives Way to Blue

BY Ian GormelyPublished Nov 17, 2009

Although their music helped form the backbone of modern rock radio, a reunion album from Seattle grunge superstars Alice In Chains seems almost laughable. After a slow fade into inactivity in the late '90s, the band's troubled lead singer, Layne Staley, succumbed to one of the decade's most saddening deaths in 2002. But after a break, the band regrouped with Stayley sound-a-like William DuVall and hit the road hard. The resulting album, Black Gives Way to Blue, is a surprisingly accomplished return, filled with the same heavy riff rock that made the band famous in the first place. But Alice's records were always more than just heavy rock. Though guitarist Jerry Cantrell did write most of the band's material, particularly their self-titled swan song, even in his weakened state, Staley was a fierce presence on their records. The visceral power of Staley's vocals, coupled with the band's face-melting bottom end, was undeniable. When he sang songs like "Down in a Hole," you actually felt like you were right their with him. While these songs certainly show that Cantrell can still write some killer tunes, they just don't measure up to the incredibly high standards the band set for themselves 15 years ago.

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