All Secrets Known: Slow paced composition based on a guitar driven theme. Riffs are simple and a lot of attention has been put into creating an eerie atmosphere in the background. As a consequence, this song will take its listener on a nice moody trip.
Check My Brain: Based on a massive down-tuned riff, this four-minute composition bears all the classic ingredients of an Alice In Chains songs. Good vocal collaboration between Cantrell & Du Vall.
Last Of My Kind: Quite a confusing opening theme, feeling like a collection of sounds. Composition is based on a 'disturbingly' heavy riff, however the refrain is based on a straight in- your- face Metallica-influenced theme.
Your Decision: First acoustic composition of the album. Here Du Vall is provided with the opportunity to prove that he is worthy to fill Layne Staley's shoes and he does a good job. Chorus is heavier than the main theme and the twin vocal performance in the refrain by Cantrell/Du Vall is impressive. Quite an emotional composition.
Looking In View: Another simply crafted slow-paced composition based on massive riffs and a melodic chorus/refrain. Simple and effective!
When The Sun Rose Again: An unusual composition performed by acoustic instruments but intended to come across like any heavy composition. The lack of electric sound and the heaviness of each individual performance create a unique atmosphere. A very impressive guitar solo adds to one's general appreciation.
Acid Bubble: A composition with quite a few surprises, separated into two parts. The first part moves to a similar pattern with Track 1, but half way through the composition comes a great surge of energy translated into a massive heavy riff that many Metal bands would love to have been able to come up with. The tempo of the composition is generally slow, but its rhythmical structure is ever-changing.
Lesson Learned: The most straightforward composition of the album; simple riffs, simple melodies, catchy refrain.
Take Her Out: Another slow, vocally driven composition supported by numerous short guitar solos and with many interesting things happening in the background in terms of guitar sounds and effects.
Private Hell: The one composition that really stood out for me. Slow opening melodic theme, twin vocal performance that almost puts you in a trance and a catchy heavily distorted refrain that still resonates in my mind. The most emotionally charged composition of the album!
Black Gives Way To Blue: A fitting closing theme, based on a ballady main theme, accompanied by some beautiful piano performances.
So, there you have it: a template review of the new Alice In Chains album. Now, having only listened to "Black Gives Way to Blue" once, and under the circumstances described above, I do not believe that I am yet entitled to either an opinion or the right to give any suggestions as to its overall importance/worth - however, I will say this: just as every Metal kid growing up in the 80s, I learned to treat bands like Alice In Chains as 'the enemy', but now that I am older and, hopefully, somewhat wiser, I get to really appreciate what this band has presented to us.
"Black Gives Way to Blue" is classic Alice in Chains material with a sound that's heavier than ever before, and as such it ought to enthuse the band's loyal fan base. The only reason I can think why anyone might react to it negatively would be as a result of that person's inability to accept anyone other than the late Layne Staley behind the mic, but that will hopefully not be the case. This is one album that I am really looking forward to listening to again soon, as something tells me that it will probably end up keeping me good company in the months to come.
Review by John Stefanis
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