on May 29, 2013
Let's get this out of the way immediately:
-Layne Staley is dead.
-He's not coming back.
Good. Can we proceed? Because regardless of whether we want to complain and cry that "this isn't REAL Alice in Chains" or "this is a far cry from their previous stuff," the fact remains that "Dirt" came out over 20 years ago, their former lead singer died over a decade ago, and the band has moved on...regardless of whether "fans" want them to or not. Is it "Dirt?" No. That's an obvious answer; it's also a dumb comparison because there's no reason we should be comparing it to that album.
So let's get to "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here": it's good. If you liked "Black Gives Way to Blue," you'll probably like this. And it should also be noted: both TDPDH and BGWTB are far more stylistically similar to AiC's self-titled album than to "Dirt" or "Facelift." I suppose one way to look at TDPDH is as "adult grunge," which makes sense: if you discovered AiC as an early teen, you're probably in your mid-to-late 30s. So, it's grunge for adults, not for raging, angsty teens.
This is an enjoyable listen. I'm not going to rate every single song--more power to those that want to do that, but that's not my thing. I'll simply say that if you're willing to allow AiC to grow, get older, and still rock...you'll probably enjoy the album. Is it a classic? No. But is it good? Heck, yeah.
on May 29, 2013
The album is great. Good songs, good singing. I like their new singer. Sure, it's not Layne, but I hope the current lineup stays around without OD'ing. Love the songs, great musicianship.
BUT..... There's Ted Jensen. Another great album brutalized by mr. Jensen's "mastering". Typical things:
- No dynamic range (EVERYTHING JUST SOUNDS EQUALLY LOUD, THE SOFTER PASSAGES INCLUDED)
- Distortion. Guitars with that added joy of digital clipping. It just sucks. And once you've heard it, your ears focus on it.
It makes me tired after a single listening session. It's sad, so many great albums get destroyed by this man.
Still 4 stars. Because it's AIC and the songs are great. This recording is butchered, sadly.
on May 28, 2013
Alice in Chains have released what could be, for me, one of my favourite AIC albums. TDPDH is a slow burner. It displays a muffled rage and a mellow sadness that seeps under your skin without you knowing. Times have changed, our society has grown cold and hard, emotion is a sickness people do not display and both DuVall and Cantrell know this. We have here a record that will quietly bury itself into your psyche without you recognising it. You are only aware of it if you pay attention - and so my opinion is that this record not only has a great deal of replay value but it's worth buying.
Some people will complain about Layne's absense. Some people will complain about song length. Some people will say Black Gives Way to Blue is better. I also see people complaining about the mastering. Also, yes there is a lot of harmony to the vocals. I wouldn't have noticed it and it didn't bother me until I read people's thoughts about it. My thought is, if it's good enough for Cantrell then it's good enough for me.
So, firstly, while we can never get Layne back, Cantrell is the oil in the machine that is AIC and always has been - DuVall is a suitable replacement for not just his real singing ability but his ability to lull you into a comfort zone, then bluedgeon you with statements that you wouldn't have recognised they are as powerful as they are, albeit with maturity. Had Layne been singing, you'd have felt the quiver of his voice and heard it through the emotion he was able to convey. But Layne is dead, all that remains are the ideas that AIC strived to portray in their music. AIC are not trying to repeat the past, just carry elements of their music along with them to the present and future. Relationships, religion, anger, sadness, the passage of time and states of discontent. They are relevant to all people.
AIC do not make one-hit wonders. They make albums that will stay with you. Go back and listen to Black Gives Way to Blue and you grow more fond of it the more you hear it - TDPDH is the same - but dynamically a better album. I recall certain songs from BGWTB that really stood out. Here, almost all the tracks stand out, although you will need to use the replay button over a long period to actually figure that out.
I don't need to explain the songs in detail, I'll leave that to you, but briefly: Hollow, Pretty Done, Stone, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, Lab Monkey & Phantom Limb are all the slow burning rockers on this album. The rest - Voices, Low Ceiling, Breath on a Window, Scalpel, Hung on a Hook and Choke are the slightly softer melodic tracks. At the first few listens of course, they 'sound the same'. Although AIC are not amateurs. There are nuances, hooks, melodic choruses and melodies placed smartly that give each song a particular character, which is addictive.
As for song length... well this is a legitimate grunge band. This is not Yellowcard, Greenday, Nickleback. They are not a one-trick pony relying on riffs or just melody. They are creating an atmosphere that's meant for you to be immersed in. The shortest song comes in at about 4:20 or so without having the track lengths in front of me. For me, AIC have done something that, in my opinion, Soundgarden failed to do with their comeback. They lost no energy. They confidently approached the present keeping the past in the past. Then they bought something new to it all and didn't try to appease everyone or sell-out. They stayed relevant and true to their sound.
In terms of mastering, well I am listening to my copy ripped from the disc, at 320kbps, with good Sony earphones and on an iPhone with a 'Rock' equilizer. It sounds fine to me and I don't know where the issue is. If you are a fan of the album, I'm sure you would find a way past whatever perceived audio issue you have otherwise. 'Brickwalling' or whatever terminology these spoiled kids use when they complain about the stuff they download illegally isn't something that should bother you unless you operate a sound studio and own a thousand-dollar set of audio cans.
Lastly, the album title, 'the Devil Put the Dinosaurs Here' (or as I jokingly refer to it as The Devil Put Them Bones Here) of course refers cynically to the basis of organised religion and those who would otherwise use the spiritual, metaphysical aspects of religion to segregate, espouse hatred and abuse people's innocence. Fitting, since one of the Layne's last songs was 'Get Born Again'. AIC might be pioneers, but they never lost their sense of reality or humility; they stood for the common people who believe in honesty. And their musical product is honest. They aren't delivering a polished turd pretending to be gold, rather a humble piece of silver that, with the right set of eyes (or ears) reflects their real value.
Buy this album and appreciate one of the few remaining true rock bands around.
on May 28, 2013
First off, to the "complainers" who are still b$itching about the vocals; we all miss Staley people but isn't it time to move on?
AIC brings yet another tightly produced, sludgy-masterpiece with the lyrical content/melodies to satiate the most critical of fans.
Let's give Duvall some credit were credit is due: this man stepped into impossible-to-fit-shoes; he has crushed the vocals on the last two albums via his drone (and almost copy-cat) style of singing, that somehow manages to not disrespect Layne's legaacy. Furthermore, its obvious that Cantrell recognizes how well Duvall's style so perfectly compliment his monstrous riffs. Compound that with the duo's ability to write and perform some truly beautiful melodies/harmonies and you get an end-product that once again earns its place along-side the Layne-led material of old.
I really respect these guys for persevering over the past 25 years; they've kept true to their distinctive sound and style and continue to produce simply superb music.
on May 28, 2013
I typically do not care to write reviews on Amazon. But this album deserves it. Being a fan of Alice In Chains ever since I was a kid, I've been anticipating this album since about January. Seeing them live recently made me that much more excited. They have once again, in my opinion knocked it out of the park. There is not a single dull moment on this album for an AIC fan. Old fans love Layne Staley. New fans love William Duvall. Real fans love Alice In Chains. There are several stand-out tracks on this album, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear William Duvall sing lead on the song titled "Hung On A Hook". It's always great to hear Jerry Cantrell, but hearing William take the lead for once was very refreshing and it should definitely happen more often. Very exciting, though I wish his voice was mixed in just a tad bit louder. As a person who owns the discography, this one's right up there with their best work, and will definitely stay in my CD player for a long time. Bottom line, GET THIS ALBUM.
on June 5, 2013
Apparently, there are many people who think Alice in Chains can't exist without Layne Staley. Guess what? Alice in Chains has always been Jerry Cantrell. If you can't live without Layne Staley, YOU SHOULDN'T EVEN BE REVIEWING THIS ALBUM. People have no business giving an album poor reviews based on a bias. Take the album for what it is; the new incarnation of Alice in Chains.
TDPDH has a more adult sounding grunge. You can really tell Cantrell is getting better with age. It ranks right up to par with BGWTB. Amazing sound, great production, great layering, and just like some of their older material, they integrate harmony in the dissonance. This album doesn't deserve anything less than 5 stars. Do yourself a favor, and get this album, and put aside the bias. Besides, the more you listen to it, the more amazing it gets.
on May 28, 2013
Being a long time fan since Facelift, I was thrilled that AIC was able to spark a comeback in 2007. Although they are not the same band without Layne Staley, they have come a long way with William Duvall. It's hard to read the comments about how the album sounds like a third Jerry Cantrell solo album. Since he handles a bit more of the main vocal duties now, of course it will sound that way and on top of it William is not trying to sound like a karaoke version of Layne, so kudos to him for bringing his own style to AIC. This album is a solid rock album and is a must have for any fan of the band. I was impressed by the first two singles (Hollow and Stone) prior to the album coming out and the rest of the album has not left me disappointed. In comparison to the Layne years, this album could be the Dirt of the present. I hope they continue to release new music and continue to be one of the greatest rock bands of my lifetime. Some EPs along the way would be a nice complement in between albums, just like Sap and Jar of Flies were back in the day.
on June 11, 2013
AIC is one of my favorite bands (both versions) and I have been waiting for this album for a long time. It did not disappoint. In this age of over analysis via internet reviews, blogs, etc. I wanted to soak this album in the way I did with AIC (Tripod) in '95 - just my ears listening from beginning to end. This is a dense album with great harmonies, big choruses and thoughtful lyrics. Overall it is very cinematic with emotional ebbs and flows (and friendly for a long drive or walk with headphones). With each listen I get hooked on some part of a different song and find it sticking with me making the album more enjoyable per listen. This quality of (rock) music and CD packaging is a lost art. Coincidentally, Rush is one of favorite band and Nick R's production on this and Clockwork Angels made for back to back summer soundtracks. Completely awesome.
on July 10, 2013
I love AiC. I love that they're making new music and getting out there. I just don't love THIS music. Voices, Hollow and Stone are the stand-out tracks here, and worth the admission price.
Other reviewers have remarked on the dynamic range of the mix, and they're right: This CD is a victim of the Loudness Wars. But a bigger problem are the vocals and the tempo. Yes, Layne is gone, can never come back and will never be forgotten, but AiC in his era had a broader range of tempos, and the lead vocals had a more theatrical presentation.
Tempo: Most of the tracks on this CD trudge. Trudging isn't necessarily bad, but when 80% of a CD is at a trudge tempo, it get freakin' monotonous. Ponderous. Boring. Music can be up-tempo without being upbeat - and AiC has done exactly that on previous releases. Gloomy is fine, but get some anger, some energy back in the mix, guys.
Vocals: I dig William, glad he's aboard. He and Jerry do some good harmonies - not Jerry/Layne great, but good. But this CD is overflowing with harmonies. William's voice doesn't stand out enough in the mix, IMHO, to really merit lead vocal status. Maybe it's not harmonies but double-tracking the vocals. If that's the case, though, it's way too much.
Listening to the whole disc is like drowning in molasses. It's smokey and sweet, but it drags you down and you want to get out before it's over.
I was pleasantly surprised by the comeback album BGWTB.
I had high expectations for this one.
I've heard a ton of negative feedback on this album but one thing I'll say right now is you have to give it more than one listen.
This album is LONG and it's a grower.
I'm glad I bought it.
Let's get the obvious out of the way first.
The production is crystal clear with every instrument audible.
As for the songs themselves...
The album opens with the radio hit "Hollow".
Heavy with gorgeous vocals.
I've liked this song since I first heard it.
Up next is "Pretty Done"
Weird song...kind of reminds me of "Sick Man" from the Dirt album with the wobbly vocals.
Catchy and fun, I like it.
"Stone" is up next and it's been another radio hit.
Sludgy and crunchy, another winner.
A beautiful ambient beginning gives way to a song that could have been on the awesome "Jar of Flies" ep.
One of my favorites and another sure fire hit.
The title track is up next and it's everything a title track should be.
Elegant, creepy and haunting.
More grungy bass for the intro...way cool.
William is finally let loose...and he nails it.
A good song with a great chorus.
Not my favorite song but not bad.
If they had stuck with the intro riff and made this a doom song it would have been better.
"Breath on the Window"
A little faster and more upbeat.
The album needed this.
My second favorite song on the album.
More "Jar of Flies" goodness.
My favorite song on the disc.
No song screams Dirt era AIC than this song.
"Hung on a Hook"
A strange and sleepy track.
Not one of my favorites but not bad.
In typical AIC fashion they end the album on a somber note.
Depressing and thankfully Duvall is actually allowed to sing alone on a few parts.
Good chorus and a good song to end the album.
All in all I like this album a hair better than BGWTB.
I'd put it right behind Dirt actually.
It's mature, it's creepy, it rocks...it's everything I've grown to love about AIC.
A few minor complaints.
I love Jerry's voice but I really wish he'd hand the reigns off to William.
Jerry never sang over Layne but he's made it a habit on the last two releases.
We don't need the dual vocals on every song.
Some of the songs could have been trimmed down a little.
A few songs probably could have been left off and saved for an ep but I'm not going to say which songs...everyone has their favorites.
None of those complaints are enough to make me deduct any stars.
A brilliant album that stands with their classics.