Since the reformation of Alice In Chains, there have been many debates. The most common is that since Layne Staley is no longer with us they shouldn’t call it Alice In Chains. Another one is that William DuVall is no where near close to Layne. Granted I never got to see Alice In Chains with Layne, I have seen the new Alice In Chains 4 times. And let me tell you it is something special. Rather than try to be Layne, William pays tribute in a very meticulous way. His voice bellows over the music in a beautiful way. He is also the only one that has come close to complimenting Layne’s voice. There are moments during the show if you close your eyes and just focus on the music you can hear Layne. I know that sounds cheesy but it’s very true. In particular when Nutshell is played. William DuVall really gives it his all during every song. While the subject matter might not rully resonate with William, there are always different ways the songs meanings can be taken.
Their new music is something that also needs to be given a second chance. Many people won’t give it a listen. I know of a few people that are complete naysayers. Though after playing certain songs they’ve started to come around. The return album Black Gives Way To Blue was a wonderful sentimental album containing tributes to Layne and the content we’ve all come to expect from an Alice In Chains album. Songs like A Looking In View, Private Hell, Your Decision and the title track Black Gives Way To Blue really shine and capture the essence of the band, without compromise. The live performances during that time were quite special. The set lists were chock full of the great songs of the past with large sing alongs, and the new songs really striking the audience’s ears.
Alice In Chains most recent release The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here is almost a pick up where they left off musically from way back when their self titled album (or as some call it tripod) was released back in 1996. There are moments where the real classic Alice is summoned. Songs like Hollow, Stone, Scalpel, and Choke all have that feel to them. One of the most standout tracks is Phantom Limb, which was written primarily by William Duvall. The music on the song is pure Alice In Chains , and the lyrics have the emotional, raw take on life that Jerry and Layne were able to capture.
There is a reason that Alice In Chains came back. I honestly don’t think it was a cash grab. I really believe it’s because they still have something to say. They came back without compromising their artistic integrity or ability to write great songs. They have the written some of the best songs in the last 25 years and put out albums that are epic and real. Layne is undoubtably one of the best ever and will forever be recognized as so. The new Alice In Chains does every bit of justice as the old. Give it another chance and see what you’ve been missing.
By: Brian Lacy