The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here review by Alice in Chains

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  • Released: May 28, 2013
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.6 (212 votes)
Alice in Chains: The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

Sound — 8
Alice In Chains has been an unstoppable force since the release of "Facelift" in 1990, even successfully overcoming the death of original vocalist Layne Staley in 2002. Their biggest advantage was that they were accessible to fans of grunge, metal and hard rock at the same time. Their sales were boosted by the growing interest in Seattle grunge music early in their career, while they were opening for mainstream metal and hard rock bands. Notably, they were the opening act for the Clash Of The Titans tour, which included Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax. Their success continued as they were nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance for "Man In The Box" in 1992 which they lost to Van Halen, but exposed their music to a much larger and mainstream fan base. Their second album, "Dirt," was released in 1992 and went quadruple platinum. After the release of Dirt the band was an opening act for Ozzy Osborne on the No More Tears tour, which once again put them in front of a huge audience who hadn't necessarily been exposed to their music before. Mike Starr left the band at this point and was replaced by Mike Inez. The band spent the summer of 1993 touring with Lollapalooza and then went into the studio shortly after to record the EP, "Jar Of Flies," which was released in early 1994. This is around the time that Layne Staley's drug addiction began taking its toll on him, and Staley entered rehab for a short while. Once his rehab was completed the band began scheduling a tour with Metallica, Suicidal Tendencies, Fight and Danzig but Staley's relapse caused the band to cancel their involvement in the tour. In 1995 the band released a self-titled album which charted well and went double platinum. In 1996, Alice In Chains performed on "MTV Unplugged," with Layne Staley looking fairly healthy once again. After this performance the band went on an unofficial hiatus with only a few scattered live performances due to Staley's addiction. There were some live releases and compilations, as well as two new songs recorded in 1998, but the band pretty much stayed inactive until the death of Layne Staley in 2002. The band was inactive until 2005 when the band began a reunion tour which eventually led to William DuVall joining the band to replace Staley. In 2008 they finally released a new album, with much of the lyrical content centering on Staley titled "Black Gives Way To Blue." The album was a success and the band began touring in support of the release. The band announced they were working on a follow up in 2011, and while it took a little while it releases worldwide on May 28, 2013.

"The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" contains 12 tracks and clocks in with a runtime of an hour and five minutes. The shortest track on the album, "Stone," clocks in at just under four and a half minutes. "Hollow" was released as the first single from the album, initially debuted online in December 2012, and then made available for digital purchase in January 2013. A video for "Hollow" was available online at the time the single was made available to download, and was followed shortly after by a video for the track "Stone." The album stays consistently strong from beginning to end, with Alice In Chains' signature mood and groove from the first note until the tail end of the closing track, "Choke." The album opens with the first single, "Hollow," which immediately establishes that the album will be revisited some of the heavier territory in Alice In Chains' sound. The next track "Pretty Done" is slightly reminiscent of "Check My Brain" with string bends being an integral part of the main riff and one of the most emotive solos on the entire album. "Stone" is next, and the opening bass line makes my mouth water like Pavlov's dogs. This is another track with some string bending going on as part of the main riff as well as some inspired lead guitar throwing down some interesting melodies on top of the growling rhythm track. The fourth track, "Voices," is the first track on the album where an acoustic guitar shows up. The fifth track is the title track, "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here," and has a hauntingly off kilter feel which just works towards pushing the theme of the song home. "Lab Monkey" starts out with a heavily fuzzed and almost clipping bass line and when the guitar, drums and vocals come in the song builds to a mid-tempo alt metal groove. "Scalpel" is another track utilizing acoustic guitar and is a little bit like the material off of "Jar Of Flies." The track "Phantom Limb" is the only track on the album with lead guitar covered by William DuVall, and while it doesn't compare to Cantrell's lead work, it definitely stands on its own feet. "Choke," utilizes an acoustic for the rhythm with some electric lead guitar and Cantrell on lead vocals and provides a melancholy close to the album.

Lyrics — 8
Enough is enough we can't keep wishing Layne Staley was around. The truth is Layne Staley died a long time ago and William DuVall is doing a great job. DuVall and Cantrell trade off lead vocal duties with the other providing some great harmonizing backup vocals. In addition, on a lot of songs they use the lead guitar melody to emphasize the vocals and provide the haunting quality that has become Alice In Chains' signature. William DuVall has really grown into his role in the band since he first began to play with them in 2006. The vocals throughout the album, whether covered by Jerry or William are melodic and haunting. The lyrics show a new maturity in Alice In Chains' songwriting on tracks like the title track, "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here," with a critical look at modern society and the closed mindedness that still runs rampant. The track "Hollow" illustrates the melancholy feeling embodied in Alice In Chains' music: "Turning in circles/ slowing down/ pulling against a closing out/ easy to feed off a weaker thing/ harder to say what I really mean/ hollow as a mountain all tunneled and drilled below/ hollow as a mountain crowned with a cold, blue sky."

Overall Impression — 9
I grew up with Alice In Chains and have followed each of their releases. I watched their "MTV Unplugged" performance when it first aired and was blown away. With the death of Layne Staley I had little hope I would ever hear new material from the band, but then I was elated with the release of "Black Gives Way To Blue" in 2008. Since then I've been mystified by everyone being so hung up on the addition of William DuVall and trying to compare their new material with Layne's material. I know I've really beat this issue into the ground, but everywhere I look I keep seeing comments like this isn't really Alice In Chains anymore with William DuVall in the band. It comes down to the fact that you have to judge an album on its own merit and can't get so lost in nostalgia that you can't appreciate what is in front of you. Layne wasn't kicked out of the band and there wasn't a messy split he slowly killed himself with heroin. The band did not run out and try to find an immediate replacement, but instead they mourned for 3 years before even playing together again. They didn't release an album with a new vocalist until 6 years after Layne's death. Jerry Cantrell remains the primary songwriter in the band, as he has been since founding the band with Layne over 25 years ago. This is a good album and stands along any album released by Alice In Chains throughout their career. William DuVall has shown himself as a full-fledged member of Alice In Chains and his contributions are significant and have to be recognized.

I like that the band has gotten back a slightly heavier sound than what they gave us on "Black Gives Way To Blue." My favorite tracks on the album would have to be "Stone," "Lab Monkey," "Scalpel," "Choke," the title track "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here"... honestly, I could list every track from the album. The track "Hollow" I played so much on YouTube when it was first released that it isn't on the top of my list right now, and I guess the track "Voices" is fairly mediocre to me in comparison to the rest of the album. This is definitely an album that I could listen to from beginning to end and after a half dozen listens it isn't getting old yet.

97 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Nice review and it pretty sums up my feelings for this album. Been listening to it on Spotify on repeat ever since it was released. It's ****en awesome!
    This album is perfect! So far I'm loving "Breath on a Window", "Choke", "Stone", "Phantom Limb", "Hung on a Hook" - wait, let me stop my self there. "Old Mr. Fun is back!"
    Why don't you buy it then?
    I've been listening to it on Spotify too because I couldn't hold my bladder until today, but I'm going to buy it and I was sure about it since the first listen. Jerry Cantrell: I love you, you blonde, badass muda****a.
    Why should you buy it? They get money of of Spotify aswell you know.
    Because the band gets way more money from the CD being bought rather than having people stream it on Spotify. Buy the music.
    you don't actually think that do you? bands make very little profit off of cd sales, i'd reckon it's not too much a difference spotify or a physical copy
    I know that bands don't make that much off of the CD's they sell, but they sure make a helluva lot more off of a CD than a stream on Spotify.
    My sister sat through lectures from someone sent from a major record label when she was in a music program in college in Atlanta. The person literally said that an artist can expect to make not much more than pocket change per cd until they reach the agreed upon volume of album sales in the deal on their contract. Read the fine print very carefully with your lawyer before signing your signature on the paper and shaking hands. LOL
    great album..Happy that it is being appreciated..To know the true worth of this album, repeated listenings is required..It gets better and better..There is so much depth to these songs..
    Have to agree with you on this, first spin didn't hit me very hard, but second time I really picked up on Lab Monkey and Breath On A Window. I just wish DuVall was more prominent in the mix, I think he has a killer voice.
    This. I didnt like the fact that on alot of the album, he was barely even audible.
    I thought the same thing about their first album together, but the more I listen to this one, the more I think it might not be that he's not audible as much as that his voice just blends right in with Jerry Cantrell's and gets lost in the mix. With Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley, it really sounded like two very different voices harmonizing incredibly. But with Jerry Cantrell and William DuVall, it sounds more like one (I hate to say bland, but that's the best word I can think of to describe it) voice that's just a little bit more dynamic than what Jerry Cantrell has on his own. It's completely different live, though. DuVall really stands out on stage, but I think his voice just doesn't seem to shine in the studio. Regardless, I think this album is much better than Black Gives Way to Blue (it really picks up on the second half), but now I'm thinking about pulling that one back out and giving it another listen to see if I can hear DuVall better than I thought I could back when it came out.
    "In 1996, Alice In Chains performed on "MTV Unplugged," with Layne Staley looking fairly healthy once again." Fairly healthy? The dude looks like he's on the brink of death in that performance.
    Exactly. I watched it just yesterday. On the rare occasions he opens his eyes during the performance, he looks possessed.
    This is really tough, I like a lot of songs on the album but it is hard to not agree with some of the comments. Heres the problem, Cantrell is doing way too much singing. Duvall was brought in to sing the lead parts, yet Jerry is singing all the verses, choruses and dual harmonizing with Will. Duvall should be singing most of the verses and choruses. Jerry Cantrell is not a lead singer, this whole situation is truly bizzare. The setlist they play live means Duvall pretty much sings all the time and Jerry takes his correct role as a backing vocalist, the key word being backing. Yet, on both post-Layne albums Wills vocals are turned down and you still mostly hear Jerry. On BGWTB I thought Will shined on songs like Last of My Kind and Acid Bubble. Duvall should be singing the verses, all the songs except for Phantom Limb are written by Cantrell and more and more it sounds like a solo record. I believe Cantrell fears alienating his fans, its one thing to alienate them using the name but I think artists have a big fear of changing their sound too much. This maybe why he is singing more for fear that if Will would take over a whole album it would dramatically alter the sound of Alice in Chains. The fact is both post-Layne albums are way different than any previous Alice album. Back to the album, aside from Hollow and Stone, I really like Pretty Done, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, and Phantom Limb. Phantom Limb is great, we hear Layne style screams when Duvall screams within and for you at the end of a couple of lines.
    I completely agree. Also yeah, a lot of these sound like they've come straight from Degradation Trip
    Jerry has always at least sang harmony/backup, and has done lead on a few songs since the beginning of Alice in what are you talking about with the vocals?
    a drummer
    Jerry Cantrell never disappoints. That riff in the middle of Pretty Done, ahh its awesome and It's great to here some more leads from him too, compared to BGWTB
    Everything about this album is great. I'm trying to find some criticisms but to be honest I can't, blows BGWTB out of the water IMO. The part of Choke that starts at 42 really gets me and brings an excellent closing to the record. 9/10 from me!
    Low Ceiling, Phantom Limb, Scalpel, Stone, and Hollow are my favourite songs on the new album.
    is it just me or does Jerry Cantrell with short hair reminds us of Alex Lifeson?
    I found the album to be pretty amazing, however, I do agree with certain people who say the album has been mastered very high. I felt that too, I think that's in a similar vein to "Black Gives Way To Blue". Tracks like "Phantom Limb" realy have a prominent loudness war feel to them. As for the rest of it, I think the album has a majority of slower tempo tracks. Songs like "Stone", "Hollow" and "Phantom Limb" and even "Voices" (which has a striking resemblance to "Your Decision") shoulda been given higher priority. But then again, you don't tell a band like Alice in Chains what to do. Like Cantrell said, there's a lotta filth on this record and that's true. Some of the songs are really feel-bad and create a sick atmosphere with their structures. An in-your-face record and a great addition to their excellent catalog. A masterpiece nonetheless.
    I love the album. The vocal chorus melodies seem to sound a lot better than on the last album. Still both are ****in a' albums. But you can't really compare them to the Layne Staley days that much. Both eras are slightly different in sound. But all around the new album is the greatest album I've heard since Slash's Apocalyptic Love album.
    Phantom Limb stands out by miles, great track. I really like the album, but apart from PL and Stone, there's a lot of homogenous songs - albeit good ones.
    I hate how most reviews compare the album to there older work. As an album itself I love it and It's probably one of my favorite releases of the year so far
    Sounds pretty cool. I listened to "Hollow" the day the lyric video premiered on YouTube, never gave a shot to "Stone" or any of the leaked songs as I had decided I'm going to listen to this in full when it comes out.
    'Breath On A Window' has me hooked - the closing arrangement blew me away. 'Phantom Limb' is also a killer track. This band never disappoints. And Jerry's line in choke about being "practiced at goodbyes" is one of his best ever.
    Great Review... I wanted to add, there is nothing cliche about their song writing, every time I was expecting a certain chord in the progression, it changed, or the solo to land on a note, it was a different one. The whole album kept me guessing, nothing was formulaic, outside of the formula Alice in Chains uses to write their music.
    The mastering on this album is horrid. There are times when you simply can't tell what's going on, it's THAT loud
    Glad I'm not the only one. The vocals are way too low, instrumentals and ambient stuff are wayy too loud.
    You are very correct; the vocals are WAY TOO LOW on some of the songs. And the effects are too much. I definitely feel the production is hindering the entire album for me
    back when the BGWTB came out, everyone talked about how loud it was and that it was a part of loudness war and whatnot ( I thought it wasn't though), but hell, compared to that this album is uberloud.
    dont agree too much with you. its loud but its no more loud than anything else coming out these days. it doesnt clip. what are you listening to it on speaker/monitor wise?
    The only song I really noticed it on was Pretty Done. That song just sounds like noise to me when I listen. The rest is great though IMO
    Yeah, that really killed me. I realise the band has nothing to do with the mastering, but damn I'd be pissed if my album sounded like that
    Google the Dynamic Range Database, the new album is rated a 5 across the board. Low numbers are bad ... Death Magnetic is rated a 3 by comparison. I'm hoping the vinyl mastering will be better or the album will find it's way to HDtracks. Currently the only way I will listen to it is from Spotify with auto volume leveling on. It's at least listenable that way.
    There are too many layers of guitar and vocal lines. It's a shame that grunge/postgrunge band, an icon of the 90s is so overproduced. I wanted to hear some screams, sounds comming from throat, mthrfckn raw guitar riffs. So glad that Josh Homme is back in style! New QOTSA kicks AiC and Soundgarden butts!
    Wow! My thoughts exactly! Both new albums are great--better than any other modern rock--and they stand tall next to their old material. However, the elegant guitar riffs and dynamic vocals have been replaced by... more of a constant drone of AiC greatness. Like the songs (and your ears) don't get a chance to breathe between transitions. ...not that I dislike it, but you can't deny the difference.
    Solid album. Phantom Limb, Hollow, Stone, and voices are my favorite. Haven't looked at the rest as much yet. Love the art of the album though, disc, and everything look great.
    Compared to BGWTB, this album is a lot more consistent in the sense that every song is good. But I think it lacks that *one* song that makes the album what it is. It's almost too consistent. BGWTB had some variety, like the transition from the moderately paced Last of my kind to a more mellow You Decision then to the sludgy A Looking in View. I feel that this album just plods along at a steady pace. Vocals wise I was expecting William Duvall to sing a lot more so I was disappointed to find out that most songs are still have overproccessed dual vocals with Jerry higher in the mix or simly Jerry by himself. The sound is quite raw compared to BGWTB which had that heavy hitting, wide and powerful sound with a lot of reverb, which I miss I must admit. But the production is a lot more crisp than BGWTB. But hey, it's a great album and certainly different from BGWTB.
    Good review apart from the initial paragraph. This album is awesome. Catchy choruses amongst some good ol AIC sludge. May they continue to create such inspiring music
    Yeah this album is definatly a grower. It feels more layered then their other albums and it really threw me off the first listen. By the way, the packaging and presentation is great!
    BGWTB came out in 2009 not 2008 I like the album, however I don't find it as memorable as BGWTB. Damn, guess nothing can top that album for me. anyways my favs of the album are: Choke, Hung on a Hook, Stone, Voices, Phantom Limb and Breath on a Window
    I think the same way. BGWTB was/is better in my taste. New album is OK...for me it's a flat line on a good (just good) ups, no downs.
    damn, i cant stream the album :S They are doing an AMA in reddit later today
    I personally think this album is quite splendid. The base line to "Lab Monkey", the power of "Stone" and "Hollow", all of those factors make me remember "Dirt" like it was yesterday. Beautiful record. Glad to hear DuVall on more tracks as well, even though the mastering was atrocious.
    It's a smashing album! Great hooks, heavy riffs, haunting melodies and great lyrics are aplenty here! Favourite tracks, 'Stone', Breath on a Window', 'Pretty Done' & 'Phantom Limb'. I personally think you could stick any of these tunes on a Layne Staley Alice in Chains album and they'd fit in perfectly!
    ... Totally forgot to mention, the only problem I have the album is that once again Duvall doesn't really do any solo vocals, I still want to hear an Alice in Chains album with Duvall doing more vocal work!
    This album is missing energy. It needs a "Put you Down" or a "Them Bones"
    Finally just finished listening through after a long day of work. Phantom Limb is by far my favorite. EDIT: did not mean to send a reply to this doofus.
    I don't get all the thumbs down on this one. The songs are great, but as an album, it really lacks some diversity in songwriting.
    One of the most boring albums AIC has ever released. its seems like each song competes with the others of which is more monotonic. All the songs: short riff X 8 + chorus .. repeated...
    Personally I think AIC should have stopped after Layne, but still this album deserves a listen
    Layne would've been really happy that Alice in Chains continued even without him. It'll be the last thing on their minds.
    wtf? When did Cantrell cut his hair??
    i wonder why he got it cut..
    Absolute Rock-O
    I wonder why people actually care about that...
    Is the vinyl version any better? I know the BGWTB vinyl was much better sounding than the CD because it wasn't compressed...
    The vinyl was around $35 on the official band store, might check there and see if they still have it.
    I just tried to buy the vinyl on Amazon and they want 53 dollars for it! So I will probably never know.
    I ordered mine and used a gift card, 33.00.. kind of sad how much vinyl costs now..
    I just bought the CD and it's amazing, if they sell their vinyl at the concert I will probably break down and buy it. (The picture disc looks SICK!)
    On my first listen right now, and I have to say the title track is what I've been missing from AIC. That creepy, intense atmosphere that just explodes at the right moment. BGWTB was great, but it didn't have anything that really sounded like old AIC to me. We'll see how this one holds up.