Alice in Chains – Black Gives Way to Blue
Seattle survivors make good with their first studio album in 14 years
They said a tribute tour would be the extent of their reunion under the Alice in Chains banner, yet these seminal grunge-metallers have found a road back to the studio without the late Layne Staley. Whereas Staley and Jerry Cantrell often dealt in spine-chilling harmonies that placed a candid lens on the brutal truths of a man coming undone, the vocal alliance between Cantrell and the gently-introduced William DuVall is comparably understated.
But there's an overriding sense of survival in their couplets, where bluesy shards of metal like Last of My Kind etch a picture of a battle-hardened band plunging their tattered flag deeper into the dirt. From a punishing lead riff that rips like a hornet's nest being poked with a chainsaw on Check My Brain to the all-too-brief eponymous piano-led eulogy featuring Elton John on the ivories, AIC go vintage as often as they surprise with this fourth LP. Against some odds, it's a compelling start to a second act.