Back in the nineties Alice In Chains was – along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden – one of the bands that put grunge on the map and condemned us all to wearing flannel shirts. Three albums later it all came to a grinding halt when vocalist Layne Staley died of an overdose after having been reduced to nothing but a recluse with a nasty drug addiction.
They’re back now with a new vocalist (obviously!) in the form of William DuVall and with a new album called “Black Gives Way To Blue”. When it comes to looks, DuVall couldn’t be more different from Staley: he’s a black dude with an afro. But when it comes to his vocal work, it’s almost eerie how close he comes to the late Staley. Which is somewhat of a necessity because one of the best things about Alice In Chains were the vocal harmonies between Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell.
Opener “All Secrets Known” takes me right back to the nineties and these dudes manage to keep this up all the way through with cuts like “A Looking In View” and “Private Hell”. “Check My Brain” is the absolute highlight with a glorious chorus kicking in over sludgy guitars. Songs like “Your Decision” and “When The Sun Rose Again” on the other hand could’ve very well been on one of the band’s acoustic EPs. And when the title track kicks in with Elton John on piano, you know that this is way more than simply another band feeling nostalgic or wanting to cash in on what once was.