I keep the reviews short, to the point, without fluff language. We grade on a 5-point scale, by the "$" to represent our suggestion on how to approach purchasing the album. It goes like this: $ - don't buy, $$ - buy the singles online, $$$ - download the whole album online, $$$$ - buy a physical copy, $$$$$ - buy the deluxe edition CD/DVD combo package and a vinyl copy. So here we go:
Confidence. Alice in Chain's new album The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here is full of confidence. Coming off their last release, Black Gives Way to Blue in 2009, it was unknown what direction AIC would move in. At least for me I didn't know. Black Gives Way, in all of it's glory, had a "can we do this without Layne" ora. Since the question was answered, the guys sound like they relaxed, and have hit their stride between Jerry Cantrell and William Duvall.
When I say CONFIDENCE, what I mean is they don't sound like they HAVE to do anything to make anyone happy. We know AIC does "dark" and "menacing" well, and Black Gives Way had a lot of that, and it was VERY good. But The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here almost feels more upbeat, more melodic, there are more catchy hooks and...dare I say, toe-tappers. This is not a damnation on the album, actually, this is a good thing. The song "Breath on a Window" could be a Bush song if you dropped Gavin Rossdale's vocals on it, and "Low Ceiling" could be a Volbeat track. Again, this isn't BAD, it's evolution.
They're confident in their evolution. Jerry Cantrell turned 47 this year, he's been clean for over a decade, he own's businesses now...he's more mature and is doing what he wants to. This is not a money-grab record. This is the perfect step for AIC. I'm happy about it, not just because it's a great sounding addition to my collection, but because they're doing it right.
My one singular gripe would be that this album is very clean. If you're looking for grungy, distorted, early 90s Alice in Chains, look elsewhere. This album come with a fine digital gloss to the music, and a touch of "loudness war" to it (But so did Black Gives Way to Blue).
Other tracks to crank it up to are the singles, "Hollow" and "Stone", but also "Lab Monkey", "Scaple", and the title track "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here".
This is the first time I'm busting out the 5-$ rating. It's not going to happen a lot. I really love this album. I will own this on CD and vinyl. It's seriously that good.