Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Black Gives Way to Blue

Alice In Chains, the renowned grunge-metal band from the 90's, just released their first full-length in 17 years, Black Gives Way to Blue, a week ago, and it is a giant success story. In addition to it being their first album in 17 years, it is their first since their vocalist Layne Staley died of a heroin overdose. Staley had a very unique voice, and many people were concerned about a new guy taking his place. Fear not, though. Newcomer William DuVall nails the Staley wail, snarling the songs he leads when he isn't creating that eerie, AIC-unique vocal harmony with Jerry Cantrell. Stacy and I were trying to figure out what interval the harmony created, and we decided it was either a 4th or a 6th. Either way, it is dissonant, creepy, and only Alice In Chains have ever pulled it off. In regards to the individual songs, they are some of the strongest in AIC's catalogue. "A Looking In View" is one of the darkest, heaviest songs they have ever done, and other songs such as "Your Decision" and "When the Sun Rose Again" capture well their subdued, Jar of Flies-era sound. Still, the biggest standout to me is the final track, which shares its title with the album. This track is led by piano played by none other than Sir Elton John, and is written about and dedicated to the late Layne Staley. This album is not only a great success story for Cantrell and company, but a moving eulogy to a unique voice that helped shape the group.

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