Alice in Chains, Capitol Records
Rs. 110 (MP3)
If you like riffs as chunky as they get, and that filthy grunge sound, you’ll know Alice in Chains haven’t changed one bit. Their second album since their comeback in 2005, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here is a cheeky swipe at evolution naysayers and more importantly, a strong sign that grunge is very much alive and well. Alice in Chains, along with Soundgarden and Pearl Jam continue to churn out music that grew popular in the 90s, but now add their own distinctive touches to it. While Soundgarden has Chris Cornell’s powerhouse vocals and Pearl Jam leans toward alternative rock, Alice in Chains were certainly left disabled after the death of original vocalist Layne Staley in 2002.
But since recruiting new vocalist William DuVall in 2005 and putting out a solid return with 2009’s Black Gives Way to Blue, Alice in Chains have been on the upswing with heavy rock. They target religion in the strongest terms with lyrics by songwriter Jerry Cantrell on the title track, ‘The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here’, whose refrain goes: “The devil put dinosaurs here/No problem with faith just fear.”
Unfortunately, unless you’re a diehard grunge or Alice in Chains fan, this album is unlikely to keep you hooked all the way. Songs like ‘Lab Monkey’, ‘Pretty Done’ and ‘Breath on a Window’ barely stick despite numerous listens, because they’re a bit too conventional. That said, even the conventional is extraordinary for altruistic fans.
Where they do strike hard is with the opening track ‘Hollow’, with a riff from Cantrell that just sticks in your head. That’s the beauty with Cantrell’s writing; even if you’re hearing the same riff throughout a five-minute song, you’re going to love it each time. ‘Stone’ and ‘Phantom Limb’ are mammoth favourites on this album, with slower songs like ‘Voices’ and ‘Scalpel’ showing off even more classic Alice in Chains.
Just like with Black Gives Way to Blue, on The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, DuVall features a little less prominently in spite of being a lead vocalist, with Cantrell’s familiar voice always joining the vocals for a familiar sound for old time fans. Then again, two powerhouse vocalists are better than one.