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Black Gives Way to Blue

  • Alice in Chains
  • Virgin/EMI

The original Alice in Chains slipped into a coma after singer Layne Staley died of an overdose in 2002. This first album by the reanimated band features William Duvall, a strong singer who can't match Staley's raw expressive yowl. The new songs are shrewd variations on the grunge-metal style that made Alice in Chains one of the biggest heavy-metal bands of the nineties. Narrow bass lines rumble darkly under the rock equivalent of plainchant, while the sung lyrics brood over the grim romance of standing alone and never giving in. Duvall often sings in close harmony with guitarist and alternate lead singer Jerry Cantrell; on Private Hell , their overdubs stack up like layers in a song by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. A couple of wisdom ballads recall Led Zeppelin in its hobbit period. The band stretches itself creatively only in the title track, an understated tribute to Staley that features a piano cameo by Elton John.

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About the Author

Robert Everett-Green is a feature writer at The Globe and Mail. He was born in Edmonton and grew up there and on a farm in eastern Alberta. He was a professional musician for several years before leaving that task to better hands. More

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