Vinyl Blog #10. Alice In Chains-Black Gives Way To Blue
Like many fans, I had mixed feelings when I heard that Alice In Chains would be returning with a new singer. Part of me was excited, and yet reserved. Layne Staley was a truly unique talent, who could not be replaced. Staley passed away in 2002, after a long battle with drug addiction. However, when I saw Jerry Cantrell on a solo date in Cleveland in 2002, this virtually unknown singer named William DuVall was performing with Jerry-singing all of Layne's vocals on the AIC songs that they played. The guy nailed it. All of the Alice fans in attendance would solute the newcomer with fists in the air after a blistering version of Angry Chair. Fast forward to 2009. When I heard that DuVall would be stepping into Layne's rather large shoes, all previous reservations about the band returning disappeared. I knew the return of Alice In Chains would be a good thing.
Enter "Black Gives Way To Blue". The first song that I heard from this album was the seven minute opus called " A Looking In View". God damn, this song was extensive and heavy! And it was the first release for the album! This is something that I took as a nod from the band, to the fans. They were not back in our consciousness to slouch and cash in. Any real fan of dangerous rock n roll should appreciate a long and crushingly heavy song as the opening single to an album on a major label. These days, that is a brave thing to do, if the band is at all interested in being noticed. The gold selling success of BGWTB in the downloading age of music, solidified this line up of the band as something that was worth sticking around for.
I think that when a band loses their lead singer, especially someone like the one of a kind talent Layne Staley, then some hardcore fans will emotionally not be ready for a new singer in such a legendary band. But hear this- addiction will always derail more than one person. It wrecks not only the life of the addict, but of the family and friends of that person. It is beyond brutal for everyone. And I believe that the Alice In Chains members did the right thing by continuing on with the now mythical and legendary catalog of songs that Layne helped create. The band is forever classic. This undeniably takes what would be an otherwise horrible ending, and continues the music with a positive and productive note. That is a true tribute to anyone who you have lost. Music is powerful, and can indeed, transcend all sorrow if you let it. Alice In Chains in the now, takes that sorrow and creates something beautiful again.