Black Gives Way To Blue Review

artist: Alice in Chains date: 09/29/2009 category: compact discs
Alice in Chains: Black Gives Way To Blue
Released: Sep 29, 2009
Genre: Rock, Alternative Metal
Label: Virgin/EMI Records
Number Of Tracks: 11
Alice In Chains does a fairly convincing job of proving that it can move forward without the late, great Layne Staley.
 Sound: 9.3
 Lyrics: 9.1
 Overall Impression: 9.4
 Overall rating:
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reviews (7) 72 comments vote for this album:
overall: 9
Black Gives Way To Blue Featured review by: UG Team, on september 29, 2009
10 of 10 people found this review helpful

Sound: Layne Staley fans are likely suffering an internal dilemma at this moment. On one hand it's likely they want the spirit of the late vocalist to be the one-and-only frontman to take the reins of Alice In Chains. Of course, the music was in large part due to Jerry Cantrell's songwriting skills, and who's to say he shouldn't carry on with the band? Well, it seemed like there wouldn't be any new discussions made about this topic, but after a highly successful reunion in 2005 at a benefit for tsunami victims, the ball began to roll. That re-introduction into the public eye led to a variety of songwriting sessions, and eventually, their 4th studio album Black Give Ways To Blue. The record is the first with new vocalist William DuVall (Comes With The Fall), and it soundsdrum roll pleaseremarkably like Alice In Chains circa 1993.

To accomplish anything close to the classic AIC sound, you need to recreate the trademark harmonies of Cantrell and Staley. DuVall is a perfect replacement, which becomes quite clear when you become hard-pressed to tell the difference between he and Staley in more than a few new tracks. Black Gives Ways To Blue may not match the quality of an album like Dirt, but it at least gives fans confidence that AIC does not necessarily have to rely on Staley to deliver a quality song. The majority of the songs revolve around the joint vocalization/harmonization of DuVall and Cantrell, and in a way that ensures that we aren't scrutinizing every aspect of DuVall's lead vocals at least at this point in the game.

When you take the focus away from the individual performances and concentrate on the riff work and general songwriting, there are some novel arrangements. All Secrets Known revolves around a cyclical guitar line that is heard underneath a good portion of the song. It doesn't set out to blow your mind with crazy guitar tricks or a fast tempo. Instead, you can tell everything is thought out carefully, from the symbolic lyrics to the short and subtle (yet dramatic) guitar solo. The first single Check My Brain certainly is a track that is most reminiscent to old school AIC material, and it does succeed at having a memorable melodies and harmonies.

DuVall does have his moment in the spotlight with Last Of My Kind, which at last allows you to dissect his style a little bit more accurately. Let's get one thing straight the guy is a highly capable vocalist, regardless of how closely he resembles Staley. He actually sounds like more of a hybrid of Staley and Sebastian Bach, which is not a bad combo. Out of the entire batch of new songs, however, it's probably Acid Bubble that makes the biggest impression for its twists and turns in arrangement, as well as the incredible sludgy tone on the guitars. // 9

Lyrics: It's hard not to love a CD that sends out an in-your-face message immediately. The first track answers the naysayers with the opening line, Hope; A new beginning; Time; Time to start living like just before we died. You just don't capture the mood of the band and/or the audience better than with lyrics such as those. While the entire album doesn't take on the topic of resurrection or new beginnings, you still get some fairly intense personal material along the way. // 9

Overall Impression: This particular reviewer has been a dedicated AIC fan since about 1990, and it was originally hard to even fathom the idea of another individual taking over Layne Staley's role. Black Gives Way To Blue at times seems like Cantrell is easing us into the newest phase of AIC, and that's probably for the best. Cantrell's own voice has a strong presence on the album, while DuVall is usually kept back in the mix (not counting Last Of My Kind). Staley had such a strong presence in his vocal delivery that the magic probably won't ever be completely recaptured. However, in terms of the grunge/sludge style of Cantrell's guitar and the general heart of the songwriting, Black Gives Way To Blue is an album that should satisfy most AIC fans from back in the day. // 9

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overall: 9.7
Black Gives Way To Blue Reviewed by: kurtshapedbox, on september 29, 2009
4 of 5 people found this review helpful

Sound: To hear this new Alice in Chains record at a time when local alt./rock stations are flooded with integrity-lacking corporate rock acts like Nickleback and Three Days Grace, is very refreshing. You shouldn't expect Jerry, Mike, and Sean to have gone back to 1996 in their heads and written an album of themselves pretending to be young and in the nineties again, trying to recycle every shred of the old AIC formula to make a marketable easy-money product. They certainly didn't. If the Tripod album marked the direction of AIC's sound in 1995, and the tracks "Get Born Again" and "Died" represented where their songwriting heads where in 1998, I think it's fairly safe to say that Black Gives Way to Blue sounds like where Alice in Chains would have progressed to by 2009 had they never disbanded in the first place. Have no fear though, still sounds like an Alice in Chains record every minute of the way. It starts off on a much slower tempo than Facelift, Tripod, or Dirt, all of which began with the thunderous sound of We Die Young, Grind, or Them Bones. 01. Instead BGWTB starts off on All Secrets Known, with a slow almost prog-rock sounding riff that builds up and starts the first Jerry Cantrell led vocal line singing ""Hope, a new beginning. Time, time to start living life just before we die". It is a very epic and different sounding start for an AIC album...but sounds strangely every bit like an AIC song. 02. The next track is the single Check My Brain which really stands as proof that AIC can still write a good catchy radio friendly song without musical or integrity compromise. It also demonstrates just how well new vocalist William Duvall has control over a very high vocal range and blend harmonies just right with Jerry Cantrell. 03. The album gets a little dirtier and angry with "Last of my Kind". This song has some serious Dirt-esque aesthetic with the trippy distorted atmosphere and harsh standalone vocals from Will...possibly one of my favorite vocal performances from Will on the entire album. 04. The next song is "Your Decision" which is a sweet modern take of some good ole' AIC acoustic sound. This song is a little less ominous and sounds more hopeful than AIC albums past have sounded. 05. Next on the list is A Looking in View, a long song that really brings the heavy and sets a dark sludgy atmosphere only to lead us into another acoustic track. 06. When the Sun Rose Again has Jerry Cantrell and Will harmonizing an incredibly brooding classic Alice in Chains acoustic number with a powerful solo in the middle that almost reminds me of something that could have been on a take for "Whale and Wasp". 7.) Next up is the sludgiest track on the entire album "Acid Bubble". The song harkens all the way back to AIC's Facelift style and shows that William Duvall certainly has the ability to to tap into the incredibly emotional and technically proficient segments of Layne's 1991-93era vocal range. Lines like "I am the child that lies and cries in the corner" can really be felt soulfully through the depressing harmonies of Jerry and Will. This is another spot on the CD that Will really shines, 08. Lesson Learned is a very typical Cantrell sounding rock song. It's not one of the strongest songs on the CD, but a good song and fun listen regardless. 09. Take Her Out sounds has a different sound or Alice in Chains. It's almost more reminiscent of an upbeat track off of a Jerry Cantrell solo album, but done with all the class and standards of an AIC track. 10. Private Hell is up next and is one of my favorite Alice in Chains tracks ever. It sounds dense, slow, saddening, dark, and brooding and the vocal harmonies/guitar solos sound straight off of Jar of Flies. 11. The final song on the album, Black Gives Way to Blue, is "a beautiful song for a beautiful man" as Jerry Cantrell himself puts it. Written about none other than Layne Staley, it is a masterful heart-stirring tribute to a man who deserves nothing less. The way the final line "I remember you" fades out to end the CD is sure to send a slideshow of Layne Staley pictures/videos running through your brain in true tearjerking fashion...a high class AIC track with some awesome piano played by Sir Elton John. // 10

Lyrics: AIC lyrics have a tendency to look like nothing special on paper, but when heard in the context of the song take on a strong a powerful message unlike any other. This CD is no exception. The topics of the lyrics have definitely taken on a different tone. The lyrics don't sound as hopeless and sad as they once did, but they certainly sound every bit as meaningful and honest to the person who wrote them. The purity in what AIC is doing is every bit in tact, and sure to leave a large impression on the listener. // 9

Overall Impression: I agree whole-heartedly in Alice in Chains decision to carry on and release this album. Will not only has the vocal range to fill in all the right spots of the vocal spectrum for AIC, but he also has his own unique voice and personality that allows him to not sound like a cheap Layne Staley rip off. The songwriting hasn't skipped a beat in the AIC camp...nothing but quality through and through on this CD. Private Hell, Acid Bubble, and Black Gives Way to Blue alone certify that this album is totally worthwhile for me. It might not be the greatest AIC album ever to be recorded, but it is certainly up there with any of their previous work, and it certainly feels really good to have these guys back. // 10

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overall: 8.7
Black Gives Way To Blue Reviewed by: KurdtStaley, on september 29, 2009
3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sound: Well this is AiC's first studio album in well over a decade, and without Layne so obviously there is going to be a somewhat significant change in sound. For one DuVall's vocals sync up with Cantrell's in such a way that a lot of people might think Cantrell is the lead singer now. Which is the only place I'd say the band is worse. It's still good, but i feel Layne's unique voice added another dimension to the music. Cantrell's guitar tone's have also changed a decent amount during the hiatus. I'm thinking it's mainly due to using Chorus effects. That thicker more metal like distortion that is heavily featured on albums like Dirt isn't really a big part of this album. They still have a decent amount of songs that are real heavy though. Their sound hasn't changed so radically that someone would think it's a new band or anything. I'm sure any AiC fan who heard this would instantly recognize it. Overall I'm gonna give the sound an 8. Personally I think it's far better than most of the bands of my generation, but I like the sound of some older grunge albums more so that's why it isn't higher. // 8

Lyrics: Lyrically this a fairly good album. Lyrics are usually the part of music a criticize most harshly. I find most younger/newer band to have very immature lyrics. Mainly oriented around the same topics (primarily love) which really gets old. I don't want to listen to a whole album full of full of shit love songs. This album touches on a lot of topics. A lot of it seems to be about coming back after Layne's death and persevering. Obviously it's written in a style that never directly mentions that so anyone can relate to it. A lot of it is really about the highs and lows of life and how you reach those places. Take for example Your Decision which is a softer mainly acoustic song that talks about the small decisions you make in your life that could make it good or bad, and how people don't knowingly choose a path of ruin but how it happens gradually without one knowing. The singing sounds a lot more like songs sung by Cantrell. If I didn't know DuVall was in the band I honestly would think it was just AiC minus Layne. It works good though. The only think lost in the singing that I was a big fan of is the grit and emotion conveyed in Layne's voice. // 9

Overall Impression: Overall I'd say it's a very good album. It still leaves a little something to be desired, but that's purely because of the expectations I've created from their prior works. It's different from those but still quite similar. This album doesn't have as much of the dynamic shifts all in one song (like in Heaven Beside You), that I miss. Instead there are a few soft songs, and the rest of the tracks are distorted from start to finish. It's difficult for me to pick out my favorite tracks from the album but if I had to, I'd go with Last of My Kind, Lesson Learned, When the Sun Rose Again, and A Looking in View. It's hard to find tracks that really stand out as being either better or worse than the average track. I enjoy every song. It's a solid album, if it were lost of stolen I'd definitely replace it. // 9

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overall: 10
Black Gives Way To Blue Reviewed by: Sickhick, on october 19, 2009
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: While it has been fourteen years since their last studio album, the sound of Black Gives Way to Blue is pretty much the same dark sound as Alice In Chains's earlier albums, which is definitely a good thing: awesome riffs and extended solos on most tracks. The one track that stands out the most is the title track, Black Gives Way To Blue, (which, of course, is about the band's previous vocalist, the late and great Layne Stanley) as it features Elton John on piano. // 10

Lyrics: The lyrics, written almost entirely by guitarist Jerry Cantrell, deal mainly on depression, grief, and hope. An example, from the song Acid Bubble: "And I always paid attention to the lines you crossed Forgive this imperfection it shows, and know I am the child that lives and cries in a corner Dies in a corner" Vocalist William DuVall's voice complies well with Cantrell's and with the music. Fortunately, he makes a conscious effort not to imitate Stanley, which would have been a distasteful thing to do, yet he has a similar style. // 10

Overall Impression: The most impressive songs on this album, in my opinion, are the first single, Check My Brain, A Looking In View, Black Gives Way To Blue, and my personal favorite, Private Hell. I like the darkness and sadness of this album, as it is done in a mature way (not in an "emo" way), although this mood is not for everybody. // 10

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overall: 8.7
Black Gives Way To Blue Reviewed by: JerSim94, on december 08, 2009
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: This album sounds just like traditional Alice in Chains, the vocals trippy, lyrics dark, and the rythem and beats masterfully playing out. Since the death of the lead singer of the band, Layne Staley, Alice in Chains has been on hiatus, and when the band regrouped in 2006 to tour and make "Black Gives Way To Blue," they made the title song "Black Gives Way to Blue" for Staley. With new singer William DuVall, the band is looking forward to some possible new albums, but as guitarest Jerry Cantrell of the band put "I don't see continuing as Alice and replacing somebody." The CD used many of their past albums' innovative sounds, from the distorted singing in "What the Hell Have I," which appears on this album in the song "A Looking in View," which includes the double voice singing that they had in this song, "Got me Wrong," and "I Stay Away." The music in this album is fantastic, and up their in the rankings with "Jar of Flies" and "Alice in Chains." // 9

Lyrics: The lyrics really hit home in this CD, giving a very dark look at things, since most of it is dedicated to former singer Layne Staley. The words are also perfect for the mood of the song. The words are sing in a way that make them somewhat repetitive, such as in the song "Your Decision." The lyrics and music, like I said earlier, work perfectly together, adding mood to any movement of the instrument. DuVall performed very well in the place of Staley, might I add. He sings quiet well, and quite a lot like Staley. Jerry Cantrell gives good back-up lyrics, as he always does. // 8

Overall Impression: I think that it compares very well with the other albums of Alice and Chains, and that this CD shows the potential of the new Alice, though they may change their name in respect to Staley. The most impressive songs from the album are "Check My Brain," "Black Gives Way To Blue," "Acid Bubble," "When the Sun Rose Again," and "Take Her Out." By the amount of songs that are very noteworthy, you can only guess how good this album is. I love the ability to make the same kind of effects on two songs that are back to back sound so different. DuVall did beautifully with the lyricism and sounding like Staley, and I also love the great guitar playing of Jerry Cantrell. I hate that some of the songs on this album have either no meaning, or don't sound very good. Also, they are getting the RHCP disease. One of these days, all of their songs are going to sound the same. "Lesson Learned" and "Last Of My Kind" are good examples of this. Also, in "Last Of My Kind," DuVall sounds nothing like the Alice in Chains I once knew, which kind of turned me off of the CD. If it were stolen I might buy it again, or if I lost it. It depends on how much it would cost. If they wanted more than $12 for it, I wouldn't get it again. ITunes has great prices on it, and that is where I initially got it, and I must say that I felt like I was jipping ITunes out of the deal from the price of the CD compared to how much I paid. // 9

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overall: 10
Black Gives Way To Blue Reviewed by: dezmoines333, on july 08, 2010
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: First of all this is the best album ever released recently. Alice in Chains will always be the best because of Jerry Cantrell's awesome gift from God, the late Layne's voice was hauntingly beautiful, and the rest of the band came with the package and from there they are and became the greatest ever. This is my review for each song: 01. All Secrets Known: Best intro and comback from a band that I have heard so far and deffinetly one of my favorite. I love the harmonies and the nice slow but heavy guitar riff. Gives a very good vibe too. 02. Check My Brain: This is an awsome song and the riffs just lay it down. Love it. 03. Last of My Kind: Dam to me its effin g00d the way it just feels angry and dirty, makes you want to get up and just make you feel like a man. 04. Your Dicision: Relaxes you and gives a g00d vibe and a lesson to choose your life and well its very well done. 05. A Looking in View: I made a drawing dedicated to this and I feel like there is more that you need to see than wat u see in your eyes, but in ur mind, somewhow it reminds me of Terminator: Salvation :P 06. When The Sun Rose Again: Beautiful well put sounds of the acoustic and bongos while the vocals just seem hauntingly smooth 07. Acid Bubble: sounds sludgy and the harmonies are wat makes you want to sing and feel the musik within you and what it makes you feel and the best part is when it changes to a fast tempo..... 08. Lesson Learned: great song, i soon started like this song more and like singing with the harmonies, very nice 09. Take Her Out: idk if this is somesort of love song but does make you think of a loved one ha, just take her out..... 10. Private Hell: very beautiful and it does definetly sound like Layne is singing with them. 11. Black Gives Away To Blue: The best slow song ever!!! I would sing this to my friends and my family anyday. and the best part is the lead guitar sounding like its weeping..... // 10

Lyrics: The lyrics overall are great and they have influenced me alot. I guess you can say that the lyrics were my instructions of life, the way I felt and wat to do with my life. The harmonies were very g00d, just like the old Alice in Chains. Pay attention to the lyrics because they give you advice in life or even though it doesn't it is a kikass album hopefully brining Grunge back and destroying the pop mainstream sh*t thats going on these days. // 10

Overall Impression: Ever single song, seconds was absolutly amazing and love it alot. I garuntee you my band will cover everysong from this album in one nite ot many times. I reccomend it to every single person in the whole world even in space to the aliens. Hope there next album will be as good as this. Last of all it would be an honor to meet them especially Jerry Cantrell because he is one of my best influnces in life, making me not give up on my dream... // 10

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overall: 9
Black Gives Way To Blue Reviewed by: AnimeRockerXD, on july 11, 2013
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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). // 9

Lyrics: 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. // 9

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

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