WARNING: This will be a biased review. In all truth, every review ever written is biased to some extent. It's no secret, however, that I worship Alice in Chains. They are my favorite band on the planet, and you should know that before perusing my perlustration of The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. I fucking love this album. It's hard to explain why, but I'll give it a shot. Personally, I don't think a band can handle a reunion any better than these cats did. I wasn't sold on the idea of a Staley-less AIC at first, but then I heard 2009's Black Gives Way to Blue. I fucking love that album. The muddy vocal harmonies, the abrasive riffs and the earnest lyrics were still pervasive in Jerry Cantrell's musical concrete mixer.
In defiance of supererogatory misgivings, I prefer Devil to its predecessor. I haven't run across many fans who share my opinion, but from where my toned ass is sitting, this record sounds like it should. I feel the need to address some of the proverbial sideswipes I've read online. Now, if you just don't dig it, that's fine. But I'm seeing rhubarbs that don't make logical sense. Several people have bemoaned the fact that Jerry continues to wrangle the vast majority of lead vocals. I was expecting William DuVall's textured vibrato to be more prominent myself, but what does that have to do with the quality of the songs? Maybe you can't warm up to Jerry's voice. Okay, but I can. For all we know, it's William's decision to recoil from the limelight.
I've also heard complaints that Devil is too slow. There may not be a "We Die Young" nestled in between the lumbering 6-minute stragglers, but remember, this is the band that released "Rooster" as a single. Dirt was 75% sludge (a conservative estimate), and the self-titled set was even sludgier. I'm focusing too much on detractors. My sincere apologies. Again, it's hard to spell out my weakness for these tunes. I simply relate to them, and I'm convinced that Jerry Cantrell is one of the most underrated songwriters in rock. Notice that I didn't say guitarist or singer, although his lead work is exceptional. Devil contains a few of his leanest solos to date. How he is able to devise melodies this infectious is beyond my comprehension.
Seriously, listen to the chorus of "Lab Monkey." That's a hook that will stick to the ribs. "Hollow" is an ideal opening track, what with its smoldering stomp and stacked harmonies. It's almost as if Jerry and William have been crooning together for decades. The slanted notes of "Pretty Done" are vintage AIC. I vehemently disagree with those who claim that Devil resembles Jerry's solo material. At least half of his solo stuff was intended to be Alice in Chains stuff. I'm divaricating (sorry, that shit pisses me off). I could ramble for another four paragraphs, but you get the general idea. The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here is vital. Hell, the lesser cuts destroy anything on modern rock radio. If you're wondering, "Voices" and "Hung on a Hook" qualify as lesser, but I never skip them.
So there you have it. I try to be objective, but I can't hide my fanboy alacrity. If you love Alice in Chains, motherfucking purchase this compact disc. It's imperative.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:37 PM