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Alice In Chains - "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" (CD)

Alice In Chains - "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" CD cover image

"The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" track listing:

1. Hollow
2. Pretty Done
3. Stone
4. Voices
5. The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
6. Lab Monkey
7. Low Ceiling
8. Breath On A Window
9. Scalpel
10. Phantom Limb
11. Hung On A Hook
12. Choke

Reviewed by on June 6, 2013

"'The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here' largely replicates the formula that the 21st century incarnation of Alice In Chains laid down on 2009's masterpiece 'Black Gives Way To Blue.'"

"Black Gives Way To Blue" was the Alice In Chains equivalent of AC/DC's "Back In Black," in that it found the band rebounding from the death of its frontman with an album that both respected what came before and charted a new direction. Little wonder then that the follow-up to that 2009 masterpiece, "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" seems to be the equivalent of "For Those About To Rock ..." in that it finds the band replicating much of the sound and style of the previous groundbreaking album, but to an ever so slightly lesser effect.

As with "Black Gives Way To Blue," this album finds singer-guitarist Jerry Cantrell as the main creative force. He at least shares songwriting credit on all 12 tracks — with seven of them written solely by Cantrell. Just like "Black Gives Way To Blue," he's the primary lead vocalist, delivering performances that are more than adequate on tracks like "Breath On A Window" and the "Jar Of Flies"-like "Scalpel."

Cantrell and fellow singer William DuVall mesh very well on tracks like "Hollow," "Stone" and the fundamentalist Christianity-mocking "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here." DuVall's presence is felt a little more strongly on this album, with "Phantom Limb" and "Hung On A Hook" giving him more of a place in the spotlight than he had on the previous album.

Instrumentally speaking, there are plenty of crushing riffs to be had here, with the opening track (and first single) "Hollow" feeling reminiscent of "Grind" from the band's self-titled 1995 album. Those looking for a classic metal sound will enjoy the '70s-style stomp of "Phantom Limb." Listeners who appreciate the sounds of "Sap" and "Jar Of Flies" will find it on the likes of "Voices," "Low Ceiling" and the closing track, "Choke."

All that said, there are a few quibbles to be had. The sequencing on this one is a little weird in places — most especially at the beginning, with "Hollow" followed by the much too similar "Pretty Done." Also, it'd be nice to give DuVall more to do. Yes, he's more pronounced here than he was on the last album, but his solo showcases are feeling more and more like afterthoughts, which is a shame, because he's quite a singer in his own right.

"The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" largely replicates the formula that the 21st century incarnation of Alice In Chains laid down on 2009's masterpiece "Black Gives Way To Blue." Is "Devil" as good as "Black?" No, but it's still a pretty impressive album in its own right.

Highs: "Hollow," "Voices" and "Phantom Limb."

Lows: Some sequencing issues, especially at the beginning of the album.

Bottom line: It's hard to follow up a masterpiece, but Alice In Chains mostly gets it right on this one.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)