The resurrection of Alice In Chains in 2009 with Black Gives Way To Blue was a momentous occasion for rockers and metalheads alike. AIC was the band that took the mystery and filth of grunge and mixed it with the dynamics and darkness of metal, creating something that was fascinating yet troubling, sinister yet beautiful. They created songs that withstood the test of time and challenged listeners with each new release.
Now the band is back with The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, their sophomore album with singer William DuVall. Released almost four years after the aforementioned Black Gives Way To Blue, their newest album brings 12 tracks of fresh material that fans have been clamoring for. But does it hold up or are these chains becoming too rusty to move freely? Find out below.
Opening with “Hollow”, the album kicks off with an almost militaristic plodding guitar riff. This dystopian track worms its way from heavy riffing to sinister verse vocal harmonies. The chorus brings a melodic beauty that can only be described as such because it is Alice In Chains. In no other band would a chorus have such an impact or sense of immediacy.
“Pretty Done” slams with full force from the beginning, immediately calling to mind the early days of Alice In Chains. There are some wonderful textured guitars hovering above thick, chunky guitars. “Voices” also calls to mind the classic acoustic-driven AIC songs of yore and ends with luscious, almost synth-like guitars.
The title track, “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”, is almost aggressively anti-theistic, poking the proverbial bear of religion and politics with a hefty stick. The music has a distinctive Middle Eastern flair, perhaps symbolizing the archaic thoughts that some have in regards to creationism and religious freedom.
“Lab Monkey” feels much like a track that belongs on a Primus record, with thick bass guitars, expressive drums, and playful guitars. It in this song that the fan favorite Jerry Cantrell talkbox, made famous in “Man In The Box”, makes a return during the guitar solo, almost mimicking the sounds of a distressed monkey.
While each song is fantastic, there were a few that simply didn’t grab me by the balls as fiercely as others. “Low Ceiling” and “Hung On A Hook” lagged a bit while “Choke”, while being a great song, didn’t end the album the way I would have hoped.
It’s obvious that there was some experimentation and venturing into new territory with many of these songs. Cantrell breathes new life into his already iconic soloing with some fresh sounds and effects. There is also a smooth sheen over the music that lends a certain smoothness across the tracks, creating an easy flow from one song to another.
The Final Word: Even though Alice In Chains is a band that has been around for decades, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here shows that they are still able to mature and grow musically. Everything about this album shows that the four members feel entirely comfortable with one another, enough to take some risks that ultimately pay off.