Released: May 28, 2013
Genre: Alternative Metal, Stoner Rock, Grunge
Label: Virgin, EMI
Number Of Tracks: 12
A very solid release that fits nicely with Alice In Chains' previous releases. William DuVall continues to grow into his role with the band.
The Devil Put Dinosaurs HereFeatured review by: UG Team, on may 28, 2013 8 of 10 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 8
Lyrics: 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." // 8
Overall Impression: 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. // 9
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
angertdev.singh, on june 10, 2013 5 of 6 people found this review helpful
Sound: Okay, so I have now listened to the album about three times a day since it was released. Alice In Chains has consolidated it's position as my favourite band of all time. They are darker, grittier and dirtier than ever before. Each track is a grinding symphony. A symphony of Jerry Cantrell's and William DuVall's brooding, harmonized vocals over their grinding riffs, Sean Kinney's sledgehammer drums and Mike Inez's bass work.
I know I keep saying that it grinds but if I have to describe their sound in one word, that's how I'd do it. The sound they adopted on this album is a darker variant of the grunge-metal hybrid that is their signature sound. Individually, none of the new tracks replace my single favourite AIC song. However, as an album, I'm going to go the whole hog and say that "TDPTDH" is their best album yet.
The album as a whole was cohesive. The acoustic-heavy tracks were particularly impressive ("Voices," "Scalpel" and "Choke"). "Scalpel" had a very Nirvana-like sound to it which was quite well done. Other classic AIC style tracks that were good are "Hollow," "Stone," "Pretty Done" and "Phantom Limb." There are a couple weaknesses however. All the songs are at about the same tempo and key which makes it a bit plain to listen all the way through the 64 minutes. Also, the middle tracks weren't too great ("Lab Monkey" and "Low Ceiling"). // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics are the standard sort of grunge lyrics. Dark, sorrowful and even bordering on insensible at times. But that is exactly what is expected. The harmonizing vocals of Jerry Cantrell and William DuVall have grown to suit each other even better since the previous album. The title track didn't get much mention from anyone but it is the best track on this album to me. The lyrics are controversial but I won't go into why that is. That can be easily googled. However, the lyrics to this track are meaningful and I quite enjoyed it. I loved it especially so because it is a song sounds like it is from their very first album, "Facelift." It sounds like "Love Hate Love" to a certain extent. Dat chorus... William DuVall is an amazing replacement for Layne Staley and the same can be said for Mike Inez's work in replacing "Mike Starr." // 8
Overall Impression: If "Black Gives Way to Blue" was a lesson to Soundgarden how a comeback album is done, then TDPDH is... I can't think of an analogy. Basically, AIC is still very much alive and kicking. Their sound is evolving but thankfully in a great direction. Take a hint, Linkin Park. As you have seen, I haven't really centred this review around Layne Staley and how the band is moving on. The band did well honouring him with the previous album and now they are back to rolling out brilliant music. And that is pretty much all that matters. Good music. To summarize, the album is really good. I've got my copy. Go get yours. // 9
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
ScottStewart1, on june 10, 2013 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: I'm going to start of by saying, that I'm a late bloomer to the grunge movement. While Nirvana & Pearl Jam were blasting the airwaves I was still roller skating with white knee high tube socks blaring mixtapes that consisted of bands like Whitesnake and Scorpions on my Walkman. Even though I grew up in the early '90s, I held hair metal and glam rock very dear to my heart as a child. Thing is, I actually didn't know much about AIC outside of a few hit singles, and didn't hear a full release of theirs until that "MTV Unplugged" album came out - I wore the hell out of that CD.
The more I got into the band I discovered that there's something different about them at least compared to other Grunge bands. They almost have a Sabbath-esque sludginess to the riffs. These guys were heavy, and they meant business. This was of course in complete contrast to the melancholic and haunting harmonies of Cantrell and Staley.
I made a point to listen to everything they put out. The entire discography. I know this is going to raise a few brows and maybe even taint the validity of this review, but my favorite AIC album hands down was "Black Gives Way to Blue." Yes, the use of the word "was" is intentional in this case, because the reason I'm writing my debut music review on this site is because of what is surely hands down the album of the year for me - "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here."
While the last album had almost a claustrophobic feel to it (not sure if intentionally or not), but this one has a create digital clearness to it. I know most people automatically shun this kind of production in favor of the grainy vintage vibe generally (myself included), but I love the clarity of this album compared to their others. It definitely feels more expansive and each song has room to breathe (if that makes any sense). // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics seem to carry a theme, of oppression and ignorance. There are more than a few not so subtle jabs to the conservative right. And like Black Gives Way to Blue (with it's theme of loss and regret) it gives the album unified and cohesive feel almost, at least compared to their earlier efforts.
The album opener Hollow, unfortunately starts things off in an almost generic manner (probably my least favorite track on here), but reminds us that this is indeed Alice In Chains, DuVall perfectly complements Cantrell (or rather visa versa, since Cantrell mainly sticks to harmonizing most of the tracks). Stone is one of my favorites, reminds me of "Check My Brain" from the last album (I also love the video for "Stone"). I think "Phantom Limb" is my favorite in the album, something about it just leaves quite an impression and makes me want to listen to it again almost immediately after it ends (same with the song "Lab Monkey").
"Voices" is another great one to turn up while cruising down the highway smoking a cigarette, it has that atmosphere/mood about it. "Scalpel" has an awesome almost Pink Floyd-esque solo by Cantrell that I absolutely love. The lyrics are fantastic and some actually hit close to home for me personally, I love the line on "Choke" especially, "Before you ask for something better, you should know I'm practiced at goodbyes." // 8
Overall Impression: Overall I think this is my favorite album of theirs. I love the unique nuances on some of the songs and almost wish they explored that more instead of almost playing it safe on some of the songs (where they sound like they could fit in almost any other previous AIC albums). After listening to the album start to finish I definitely made it a point to pre-order it and will most likely pick up a physical copy as well (since I'm old school like that and love artwork and linear notes). The album is nothing revolutionary or mind-blowing but fans of the band will definitely enjoy this one, as I feel it's their most solid effort to date. // 9
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
jayden453, on june 10, 2013 2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Masters. After a total of 23 years as a band Alice In Chains are masters at what they do. The album is faultless and maybe that is itself the album's only true fault. As they are now such a refined band it is a big wish to ask for anything as fun as "Nothin' Song" or "Iron Gland" ever again. What we are given is seventy minutes of hard rock sounds that I can imagine is going to transform into one heck of a live performance.
Their previous effort "Black Gives Way to Blue" was one of the building blocks of creating this album, it established their sound post-Layne, loud, sludgey, and well polished; their first two singles "Hollow" and "Stone," two heavy precursors to the album also set up the sound of this album well, and "The Devil..." has brought it all together. This is not a quiet album. The presence of heavy guitar, bass, and drums remain throughout and dominate the album, You can hear Kinney's percussion sounds and Inez' bass sounds feed off the other's on tracks such as "Phantom Limb" however, the band make space for vocally softer songs like "Scalpel" which would sound wonderful performed acoustically. // 8
Lyrics: Lyrically the album is packed full of thought provoking lyrics ranging from the band's views on the unreasonably religious in the title track: "The problem with faith: Fear. Liar." to relationship breakups in "Choke": "Go then, if you don't feel right living in our home. Choking, eat your pride alone." The lyrics of the album at more times than not are puzzling, Cantrell's writing style on this album consists of metaphors too hard to decipher in the space of five minutes. It will take some time to get your head around all of the words, and whether you listen to the band for the words or the overall sound may decide whether you bother trying to find all of the meaning.
DuVall finds his voice more on this album and boasts an impressive range Cantrell appears to feel more comfortable accompanying as backing vocalist, but not completely hiding away, as with "Black...," "The Devil..." shows that DuVall and Cantrell's voice's mix incredibly well together in the many vocal layered sections. // 7
Overall Impression: Possessing the new Alice In Chains album is a treat. Wrapped up in a see through red CD case the album art shows only the skull of a triceratops but when removed from the case two skulls are seen, the second mirroring the first and creating an image of the devil where the two cross over. The CD case acts as a viewing window of the whole album and encourages listener interactivity.
Throughout this album I can definitely hear an influence from a lot of their previous works which is normal for a band. It is an album that took me by surprise in places. After a few listens "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" will be another part of an incredible discography of material. I think It will be an album which I will find more in ever time I listen to it. It has a different, heavier sound, but it is equally as worthy as any past material. // 8
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
Rockford_rocks, on june 10, 2013 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Alice In Chains is certainly a band that causes some controversy in the modern rock world. If you explore around the community of AIC fans, you'll stumble across those who believe the band should be named differently due to ex-lead singer Layne Staley's passing, some who believe the band continuing at all is an insult to Layne, and some who just don't like the new music/singer... And then there are those that simply want a new album to listen to the grunge gods of the '90s give it one more go. If that's something that you are interested in, "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" is certainly an album that should move to the top of your "purchase" list.
The sound of "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" might not be what you expect if you're looking for "Black Gives Way to Blue 2." Certainly, a few pumping mid-to-fast-paced modern rock tunes are present here ("Pretty Done," "Lab Monkey," "Phantom Limb"), but what I and most people who give this record a chance will be pleasantly surprised to find is the classic Alice sound at its tightest since "Dirt." I can speak for many Alice fans that "Black Gives Way to Blue" didn't really satisfy in terms of the atmosphere older albums like "Dirt" and the self titled album could create. Tracks like "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" and "Hung on a Hook" take the classic "Angry Chair" formula of taking a simple guitar lick or vocal melody and turning the atmosphere up to 10. Those missing the band's "Jar of Flies"-esque slow songs will find themselves satisfied as well, "Scalpel" and "Choke" are among the album's strongest songs.
Overall, "TDPDH" has a solid mix of all the styles Alice in Chains does well: Modern rock, sludge rock, slow and deep acoustic numbers, and atmospheric tunes as well. Cantrell has a few very notable guitar solos ("Stone," "Low Ceiling," "Will DuVall" has a nice solo on "Phantom Limb"), and just as on "Black Gives Way to Blue," he and new singer William DuVall harmonize beautifully on just about every track. On some tracks ("Hollow") this can feel like too much of a good thing, but I think it's a good sign that they are sticking to what made them legends.
Mastering-wise, there are a few gripes with the production of the CD. The overall mix is pretty darn loud, and on some songs the bass is almost unbearable if turned up too loud. There's also a mixing issue with vocals, but I'll get to that next. // 9
Lyrics: As always, Jerry Cantrell's lyrical skills are solid. However, nothing really jumps off the page. None of the lyrics are anything you're going to be quoting, but they all have that classic AIC stoner-like feel. The lyrics are hardly important in comparison to the vocals themselves, however, and in that department this album really shines.
If you aren't really a William DuVall fan, surprisingly this album may be for you. "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" is pretty much the Jerry Cantrell show. It does hurt the band feeling overall when he writes the songs and then dominates the mix on all of them, but then they had to give DuVall very limited lead singing parts. I was very disappointed with this fact, that was never the case with Layne until his drug addiction started to eat at his voice (their self-titled album was basically written around this fact). I don't think DuVall has any such problem, so it's disappointing not to hear him more.
My mixing gripe from the previous section also has to do with Jerry and Will. Jerry's vocals are all pumped up to 11 while Will is probably resting down at about a 5. Jerry needed to come down, Will needed to come up. Other than that, I have no complaints about the singing on this album. There were moments when I thought I was once again being subjected to the maniacal harmonies of "Dirt" and other times where Cantrell turned into his "Jar of Flies" self, and that's something to make any AIC fan happy.
Rating comes down because of the lyrics just being okay and the mixing ruining the vocals a little, but the structures of the vocals are so brilliant they deserve to be praised. // 8
Overall Impression: As a whole, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here is truly the best release the band has put out since the early days. It has many tracks that will take several listens to truly appreciate, as well as tracks that will stick out right away. Every time I pop this CD in I find a new song that I liked more than I thought I did, and to me that's a sign of a well made album: It's good initially, but gets even better through aging. Alice fans who were disappointed with "Black Gives Way to Blue" may want to give this one a chance. As a whole with the album, I only have three gripes:
1. The mix is incredibly loud.
2. Jerry Cantrell is too loud, Will DuVall is too quiet.
3. The album cover is something I probably could have come up with in MS Paint. Like Black Gives Way to Blue, I found the cover to be way too boring for a band with such interesting and classic album covers as "Dirt," "Facelift," and "Jar of Flies." And honestly, I think the name of the album is a poor choice at best. I understand the meaning behind it, but I think most of the other songs would've been a better choice to title the album after.
In my opinion, the strongest tracks are "Low Ceiling," "Choke," the title track, and "Stone" (and it was REALLY difficult to pick out just those); with the weakest being "Voices," "Breath on a Window," and "Hung on a Hook." If you want a decent idea of what the album is, listen to a couple of those before you go out and pick up the CD. I can't recommend it enough. // 9