“Black Gives Way to Blue” by Alice in Chains

Grunge was a child of the early 1990s, and was almost something you had to be there for. The genre spawned out of the state of Washington almost out of nowhere, and stole radio-waves all over the nation. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Melvins, Mother Love Bone, Screaming Trees, Soundgarden and many more shook the youth of the world with a new sound that was taking over. Unfortunately after the death of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Grunge began to drop in popularity and faded away before the new millennium. Alice in Chains met their own end after singer Layne Staley passed away from his drug addiction in 2002. And with him it seemed, that the final “great” grunge band had come to pass.

But here we are in 2009, and we have a new album by Alice in Chains. The band has picked itself back up, and has picked up William DuVall as their new vocalist. Some fans may feel this is disrespectful to the Alice in Chains legacy, but is it as sacrilegious as many fans feel it is or does the new album do justice to one of the more popular grunge acts of all time?

Black Gives Way to Blue features the same members of the band that gave us the intense sludging sound way back in the 90s, and it is certainly audible. There isn’t much of a difference in the sound of a new Alice in Chains song and an old one, save for the singer and more modern production. Jerry Cantrell still performs as if he was still wearing his flannel shirts around his waist and not bathing for weeks. William DuVall stays away from trying too hard to be a replacement for Layne, and instead does his own take on the Alice in Chains style. He comes very close to the old AiC sound in the song “Check My Brain“, but he still lacks the haunted, addiction tinged edge that gave Layne the real power behind his vocal performances.

That Seattle Sound is present all over Black Gives Way to Blue, and is a welcome comeback album as well as a tribute to the grunge scene of days past. While the album may not have the full power of the original lineup, it does a good job to appeal to old fans without being offensive or phoning it in. It won’t catch the youth of the nation by surprise like its predecessors, and it certainly isn’t their best material. But fans who want their fresh grunge fix should look no further than Black Gives Way to Blue.

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Published in: on October 1, 2009 at 8:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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