Alice in Chains - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

Alice in Chains
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
Capitol Records
Let’s not have the same debate again. Whether or not Alice in Chains are in fact Alice in Chains without Layne Staley. The way I look at it is this: Alice in Chains entered a new chapter of their history with the release of their 2009 comeback album “Black Gives Way to Blue”. Now it was time for that band to release a brand new album entitled “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”.
Almost from the first second of the first song (“Hollow”) you just know that you are listening to an Alice in Chains album. You get hit by the distinct dark atmosphere that the band introduced with “Dirt” way back in 1992, and has been developing ever since. I think that the old-time fans of Alice in Chains will really like this record because the band seems to be exploring their primal roots in it. Unlike “Black Gives Way to Blue”, the tracks of “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” are much darker, slower and gloomier (in other words more 90’s Alice in Chains sounding), but at the same time they preserve a heavier tone than any of their previous recordings.
To be more exact, this album contains the typical slow bone-rattling Alice In Chains songs (like “Hollow”, “Pretty Done”, “Lab Monkey” and “Low Ceiling”), some real heavy hard rock tunes (“Stone”, “Breath of a Window” and “Phantom Limp”), a few melodic semi-acoustic hard rock power ballads with a twist of grunge (“Voices”, “Scalpel” and “Choke”), as well as a couple kind of experimental and more free flowing compositions (“The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” and “Hung on a Hook”). Plus, this album may contain some of the best guitar playing that Jerry Cantrell has ever offered. It seems to me that “Black Gives Way to Blue” was just a warm up for those Seattle veterans, and now they feel ready, capable and secure enough, not only to pick up where they left off when Staley died, but go even further and explore new territories within the musical style they invented.
This, however, raises the following question: How relevant and how significant is this musical style today? This was, at least, what I was wondering after listening to the first 3 or 4 songs in “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”. Undoubtedly, we are dealing with a good Alice in Chains album here. No question about that. But is a good Alice in Chains album considered “a good album” today? Imagine this: If a different band, let’s call them... Jenny in Chains, had released the exact same record, would we call it a good album? Or would we say that Jenny in Chains is trying to revitalize a dead musical genre by microwaving the leftovers of Alice in Chains from the 90’s? I know that there is no Jenny in Chains, and that a band has the prerogative to do whatever they want with their own leftovers, but is that fair? There are many bands that have been influenced by Alice in Chains but have taken their sound to new levels. This is why I had higher hopes for a new Alice in Chains album. Otherwise, what is the point of writing new material? I can’t say that I have an answer, but I can’t say that I care either. I think this is one of those occasions where there is no clear and definitive answer because the discussion is much more important and interesting that the conclusion.