Sound — 9
Due to the unfortunate death of vocalist Layne Staley the band took a hiatus but, after a natural disaster in 2006 the band put on a benefit concert featuring different vocalists. One of those vocalists being William DuVall singer for the band Here Comes The Fall who had opened up for Jerry Cantrell's solo band. A few years passed and the band released this album "Black Gives Way to Blue" which while still sounds like AiC it takes elements from Jerry's solo project. Does it hold up to the classic AiC? Yes, it does. The riffs are slow and gritty, the bass is loud and powerful, the drums while being less upfront are great too. My only problem with the album's sound is that it falls victim to the loudness war which means some parts are immensely louder than others. (See "Death Magnetic" by Metallica for reference).
Lyrics — 9
Most of the lyrics on this album are about isolation and the death of Layne Staley pretty fitting subjects. Now we talk about the most controversial part of the album, the vocals. While people will complain "NO LAYNE NO CHAINS!" or "William tries too hard to sound like Layne" I think he fits well in the band and he does Layne justice without trying to copy his sound. William and Jerry also nail the harmonie aspect of the band, I still get chills when hearing songs like "Private Hell" and "When the Sun Rose Again" And even though fans of the old Alice In Chains might not like William you have to respect him.
Overall Impression — 9
Track by track review: 01. "All Secrets Known": Slower paced song that eases you into the new sound without overwhelming you. Also, the riff and solo in the middle that really gets me going and shows you that Jerry hasn't lost his edge. 02. "Check My Brain": Big radio hit and an instant AiC classic. It has a nice bendy/doom metal riff and some dark harmonies that remind me of the self titled Tripod album. 03. "Last of my Kind": This is really a William song, it's really angry and powerful especially in the chorus. 04. "Your Decision": Another radio hit and the first song on the album to feature acoustic elements, the beginning is mostly Jerry with William singing back up. This song also has a nice electric solo but I would have prefered if Jerry kept it all acoustic. 05. "A Looking in View": This song was released as a short teaser and the first time I heard it I couldn't wait for more, when we got the full version I listened to it over and over and over. It's a slow and long song which is a good thing because I love listening to it. Definitely one of the best songs on the album. 06. "When the Sun Rose Again": One of AiC's best acoustic efforts it's so calming and the harmonies are really what makes it so special. I get chills everytime. 07. "Acid Bubble": Almost a progressive metal track due to it's length (which clocks in at 6:56) It also has some pretty wacky time signatures. Not a typical Chains track but a very good one. 08. "Lesson Learned": A single that makes me think of "Check My Brain" for no reason whatsoever because they are nothing alike. It's a good song though, catchy chorus and standard Alice In Chains. 09. "Take Her Out": Great guitar intro and the rest of the song is good too. 10. "Private Hell": Emotional song with great harmonies and one of Jerry's best solos. My favorite on the album. 11. "Black Gives Way to Blue": This song is mostly Jerry which is fitting because it's a tribute to his musical soulmate Layne Staley. This song is full of emotion and a great closer. This album shows that AiC is still great without Layne even though I prefer the older material. There isn't anything about this I don't like and I'd rebuy it over and over again just to support the band.