Black Gives Way To Blue

  • Record Label: Virgin
  • Release Date: Sep 29, 2009
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 129 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 0 out of 129

Review this album

  1. Your Score
    0 out of 10
    Rate this:
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
    • 0
    • 0
  1. Submit
  2. Check Spelling
  1. Jan 16, 2011
    9
    Incredible return by one of the kings of grunge music. The 14 year layoff was worth the wait with this original bone jarring album that will hit you right in the gut. The late rock legend Layne staley is replaced with William Duvall who brings his own edge to the band. Cantrell is back with his intense sincere solos and rhythm guitar. Cantrell sings as much in this album as any Alice inIncredible return by one of the kings of grunge music. The 14 year layoff was worth the wait with this original bone jarring album that will hit you right in the gut. The late rock legend Layne staley is replaced with William Duvall who brings his own edge to the band. Cantrell is back with his intense sincere solos and rhythm guitar. Cantrell sings as much in this album as any Alice in Chains album as Duvall is eased into the role of the new lead singer for fans. Highlights include private hell, acid bubble, and a looking in view. The feel of the band has evolved from the heroin addiction they faced in the 90's to a more developed controlled sound that unleashes its fiery on you like a tornado. Expand
  2. ChrisL
    Oct 22, 2009
    5
    This record needs a bit more meat, because too much of it is filler and too much of it consists of these droney, whinny songs. Past albums were always dark but had this quirky life and energy to them. Songs like "Private Hell" "Take Her Out" and "Acid Bubble", just sludge on and go nowhere fast. And I would have loved this record so much more if you could actually, you know, HEAR Duvall This record needs a bit more meat, because too much of it is filler and too much of it consists of these droney, whinny songs. Past albums were always dark but had this quirky life and energy to them. Songs like "Private Hell" "Take Her Out" and "Acid Bubble", just sludge on and go nowhere fast. And I would have loved this record so much more if you could actually, you know, HEAR Duvall on more then 30% of it. Even on Acid Bubble, which Duvall carries VERY well live, Cantrell has to have the prominent voice. What a prick. Cantrell, you had your solo trips, now truely harmonize like AIC used to do so well and make AIC a bit more distinct from your solo stuff. Do you know what this record sounding mostly like Degredation Trip #3 is? A hack job so you can actually sell some records. Well, it appears to be working. Expand
  3. Jan 3, 2012
    10
    You can't judge the Jerry. He wanna make some music and sell some records. He used the "Alice in Chains" name for selling records. OK, I know, it's not Alice in Chains anymore, but that doesn't mean this album is sh*t. It's a very good album, out of my expectations..
  4. SamP.
    Dec 20, 2009
    6
    Heavy, grimy, depressing, and thundering, guaranteed to make the listener reconsider suicide. Alice In Chains does it well but the impact is marred by a lack of energy, complimented by stale vocal performances, which makes the album a chore to listen to instead of an enjoyment. Not recommended for first-time AIC listeners.
  5. Sep 4, 2010
    5
    I LOVE Alice in Chains, but this is a pretty mediocre record. It's not just the absence of Layne's great voice. It's that the album feels incoherent. Some songs are the gloomy sludge metal dirges Alice are famous for, others are the softer ballads present on their between album EP's. Jerry's songwriting chops also aren't as sharp as they used to be.
  6. AmitG.
    Oct 1, 2009
    10
    Great AIC album with no qualifications whatsoever about new vocalist, after so many years etc etc; just loving it!!!
  7. DavidB.
    Oct 1, 2009
    9
    Unexpectedly great record. A real pleasant surprise from one of my favorite bands of the 90's.
  8. KY
    Oct 1, 2009
    9
    Layne Staley will never be replaced but his CD sounds fantastic. I've seen the band live with DuVall and it was a fantastic performance.
  9. danielh.
    Oct 1, 2009
    9
    I think that all the critics are expecting a "Back in Black" type album and some of their reviews are really just disappointment that it wasn't. "Black Gives Way To Blue" is a good album, every bit as good as the last studio album, "Alice In Chains". DuVall is a great addition to the band, not quite Layne but a good singer. What always amazed me about the band is the harmonizing, I think that all the critics are expecting a "Back in Black" type album and some of their reviews are really just disappointment that it wasn't. "Black Gives Way To Blue" is a good album, every bit as good as the last studio album, "Alice In Chains". DuVall is a great addition to the band, not quite Layne but a good singer. What always amazed me about the band is the harmonizing, Give it a couple of listens, it will grow on you. Maybe in need to check my brain. Expand
  10. barryg
    Oct 20, 2009
    9
    Well it's for the better than the worst the lead singer the perfect replacement for layne, music wise it takes 3 to 4 spins in your cd player to get the feel for it . it grows on you the more you listen to it.
  11. mikeg
    Oct 2, 2009
    7
    Good not great. a couple more standout tracks and it would have been awesome.
  12. SimG
    Oct 9, 2009
    8
    Wow, what a surprise!! I have hit the teenage years at the grunge
  13. RandyQ.
    Oct 1, 2009
    9
    Love it! Almost perfect
  14. SamanthaF.
    Oct 1, 2009
    10
    AIC is amazing. I am so glad they came out with this rocking album. I would definitely recommend it to anyone. It is near flawless!
  15. gabriels'
    Oct 11, 2009
    9
    Well, I'm a fan of AiC, and the first thing I said when I heard the rumors about new album was, well Layne that's how much you mean to them, but after I heard the record I was like......WHAT THE HELL IS THIS, this sounds so good and this guys are back on track! But still there is the LAYNE factor, no matter how good is William he will never replace Layne, I can just imagine how Well, I'm a fan of AiC, and the first thing I said when I heard the rumors about new album was, well Layne that's how much you mean to them, but after I heard the record I was like......WHAT THE HELL IS THIS, this sounds so good and this guys are back on track! But still there is the LAYNE factor, no matter how good is William he will never replace Layne, I can just imagine how this songs would've sounded with him.I can't go through the fact that this sounds pretty much like Jerry's single records but with William's back up vocals, for the future if there are any new AiC records, I'd like to hear William in the front, as it was with Layne. Expand
  16. NeilA.
    Oct 1, 2009
    10
    I'm not saying that this is a perfect CD but considering I didn't they should have even bothered, it is a great addition to their catalog! Dirt is still their "masterpiece" but they don't lose a step with this effort. Layne Staley could never be replaced although Duvall's voice blends just as nicely with Cantrell's and is different enough to give him a unique I'm not saying that this is a perfect CD but considering I didn't they should have even bothered, it is a great addition to their catalog! Dirt is still their "masterpiece" but they don't lose a step with this effort. Layne Staley could never be replaced although Duvall's voice blends just as nicely with Cantrell's and is different enough to give him a unique quality. Superb comeback! Expand
  17. SkullScience
    Oct 1, 2009
    10
    I must admit to being extremely skeptical when I heard Alice In Chains where reforming. Especially after all the vitriol towards William DuVall on many a forum and YouTube. I thought I would trust Jerry Cantrells judgement and give this a chance. I mean, who knew Layne like Jerry did? To say I am not disappointed is an understatement. The album is awesome. DuVall is awesome, not quite I must admit to being extremely skeptical when I heard Alice In Chains where reforming. Especially after all the vitriol towards William DuVall on many a forum and YouTube. I thought I would trust Jerry Cantrells judgement and give this a chance. I mean, who knew Layne like Jerry did? To say I am not disappointed is an understatement. The album is awesome. DuVall is awesome, not quite Layne Staley, but who is. His performance in the band Mad Season proves that. So the fact William DuVall nearly reaches those heights shows that he is a vocalist of great quality. The songs range from dark and moody, typical AIC, to heart rendering ballads, a beautiful tribute to Layne. Buy this album. Don't be close minded. Only AC/DC managed such an epic return after the death of their lead singer, Bonn Scott, with Brian Johnson and Back in Black. Layne would be proud. Expand
  18. JamesS
    Nov 20, 2009
    10
    Amazing
  19. CrisD
    Nov 4, 2009
    8
    I love AiC. I like them the best in Facelift. This album was amazing but to me had some things left to be desired. It sounds a lot like Jerry's solo albums. I feel like Sean should've stuck out more. All that aside, DuVall did not disappoint and sounds a lot like Layne but should have had less support from Jerry to really make it the AIC sound I enjoyed so much in Facelift.
  20. JasonK.
    Oct 1, 2009
    8
    Really surprised as to how good this album sounds! Even without Layne Staley, Jerry Cantrell and gang have put together a remarkable album, and anyone who says that it sounds like any of the previous solo records by Jerry needs to get his/her brain waxed and bleached. They've definitely evolved a bit, with some heavier eastern influences (When the Sun Rose Again) and less dependence Really surprised as to how good this album sounds! Even without Layne Staley, Jerry Cantrell and gang have put together a remarkable album, and anyone who says that it sounds like any of the previous solo records by Jerry needs to get his/her brain waxed and bleached. They've definitely evolved a bit, with some heavier eastern influences (When the Sun Rose Again) and less dependence on wailing guitar solos (and I use the word 'less' pretty loosely) but the core music is still the classic dark, eerie and ethereal Alice in Chains we have come to know and love, which of course what it all boils down to. Great stuff! Oh also, they have not compromised their sound for a wider and more contemporary audience and all that BS. Cheers. Expand
  21. KiddC.
    Oct 1, 2009
    8
    I was probably the biggest Layne fan out there and I have to say Duvall does a solid job as a replacement. I actually wish Duvall was more present singing on some of the songs because he does have a nice voice. Anyone who doesn't listen just because Layne isn't around is making a mistake because it has the same feel that you would expect. Go Chains! And R.I.P. Layne.
  22. lilyg.
    Oct 2, 2009
    8
    I'm loving this album. So glad they're back to make music again I just picked it up and I was certainly not let down!
  23. JohnP.
    Oct 3, 2009
    10
    Another underrated album from an underrated band. Alice in Chains will never get the proper recognition they deserve.
  24. MichaelL
    Oct 3, 2009
    8
    There is a lot of old AIC in this new cd so most fans will have no problem picking it up and nodding right along with it. By far not there best work but not forgettable in the least more than worth a listen. The Crunchy churning guitar riffs are there just like they should be. The vocals in places are eerily similar to Lane but never in a outright copying way. Highlights for me were "All There is a lot of old AIC in this new cd so most fans will have no problem picking it up and nodding right along with it. By far not there best work but not forgettable in the least more than worth a listen. The Crunchy churning guitar riffs are there just like they should be. The vocals in places are eerily similar to Lane but never in a outright copying way. Highlights for me were "All Secrets Known" and "Acid Bubble". with any luck they will putting music of this quality for years to come. Expand
  25. MichaelL
    Oct 3, 2009
    8
    There is a lot of old AIC in this new cd so most fans will have no problem picking it up and nodding right along with it. By far not there best work but not forgettable in the least more than worth a listen. The Crunchy churning guitar riffs are there just like they should be. The vocals in places are eerily similar to Lane but never in a outright copying way. Highlights for me were "All There is a lot of old AIC in this new cd so most fans will have no problem picking it up and nodding right along with it. By far not there best work but not forgettable in the least more than worth a listen. The Crunchy churning guitar riffs are there just like they should be. The vocals in places are eerily similar to Lane but never in a outright copying way. Highlights for me were "All Secrets Known" and "Acid Bubble". with any luck they will putting music of this quality for years to come. Expand
  26. TylerD.
    Oct 4, 2009
    10
    Duvall sounds great and the music is top notch. I was very weary of a new lead singer in AIC but this is the band we all grew up with and the band we all know. Some of these tracks will be labeled "classics" in 10 years. Please buy this album.
  27. GrungeMatter
    Oct 4, 2009
    9
    Great album. I definitely needed some new AIC material! Duvall does a great job. Hope to see more albums by the band!
  28. MichelleW.
    Sep 30, 2009
    10
    I can't imagine what the guys from Hot Press, Rollingstone and Spin were listening to. It wasn't the album I just heard.
  29. SrikanthC
    Jan 11, 2010
    9
    Great album! Typical AIC stuff. I like that very much.
  30. AndrewR.
    Jan 21, 2010
    9
    Once again the critics show themselves to be fools with no taste. This is a brilliant album that rivals anything with Layne. A little bit more mellow than their older work, but this isn't surprising since they're all into middle age. A must-buy.
  31. WilsonC.
    Oct 1, 2009
    9
    An excellent return to form, especially with everything that's happened, and the difference in time and the loss of Layne.
  32. Sean
    Oct 1, 2009
    10
    This went above and beyond my expectations. I never thought I'd have these songs in the same playlist as all my other AIC, but I was wrong. It's dark and it's heavy, and although it doesn't have quite the haunting effect that only Layne could provide, it does the job well enough. My only real complaint about this album is that it lacks some of the creativity that could This went above and beyond my expectations. I never thought I'd have these songs in the same playlist as all my other AIC, but I was wrong. It's dark and it's heavy, and although it doesn't have quite the haunting effect that only Layne could provide, it does the job well enough. My only real complaint about this album is that it lacks some of the creativity that could be found in their earlier work. The songs follow a simple pattern of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, Cantrell solo, verse, chorus, etc. and don't really build up to anything or stray away from that mold. Many of their classics took off in another direction and I think that's why they were so different and so much better than a lot of other music at the time. Still, I would give it a 9.5 overall, because I don't think I've enjoyed a new album this much since Lateralus by Tool. Expand
  33. JoeE.
    Oct 1, 2009
    9
    Black Gives Way To Blue shows how this band has stuck to their guns. The lyrics have sadness in them, but not as dark as previous albums. The sound, as always, is undeniably that of when Jerry Cantrell puts his pick to the strings of a guitar. William DuVall, with a strong voice in his own right, does a great job of stepping up...not looking to replace Layne Staley, but stepping up Black Gives Way To Blue shows how this band has stuck to their guns. The lyrics have sadness in them, but not as dark as previous albums. The sound, as always, is undeniably that of when Jerry Cantrell puts his pick to the strings of a guitar. William DuVall, with a strong voice in his own right, does a great job of stepping up...not looking to replace Layne Staley, but stepping up nonetheless. All-in-all, great to have them back on the field with other great (and original) alt-rockers Pearl Jam and The Smashing Pumpkins! Expand
  34. MarcusS.
    Oct 1, 2009
    9
    Spin and Rolling Stone don't know what they're talking about; both lost credibility a long time ago. I don't even think Spin listened to the songs; Duvall sings lead on perhaps 2-3 tracks, at most-the rest are either harmonized with, or lead by, Jerry.
  35. JoshuaP.
    Oct 1, 2009
    10
    After Layne died I thought that AIC was over. When I found out that they were putting another album out I about crapped my pants. This album was the first CD that I have bought in a long time. It was definitely worth the wait. I loved every single song. The song "Black Gives Way To Blue" was one of my favorites. This album is a DEFINITE MUST HAVE!!! You'll thank me later.
  36. AndrewS.
    Oct 1, 2009
    9
    Brilliant ! Best album since Dirt.
  37. SteveM
    Oct 2, 2009
    9
    The new album is incredibly soulful. It is both musically and lyrically brilliant. If you are true AIC fan you should have already purchased this album and are reading the reviews just to see how it was received. 9/10 for me.
  38. EwoutC
    Dec 1, 2009
    8
    Very good recording, great comeback. There is not one song that is weak, they are all of a high standard.
  39. AdamH
    Oct 21, 2009
    10
    This album is further evidence that these elitist critics have become so insulated by their criteria for "good music" and desire to fetch readers for their bosses from the mass pool of "big money" age demographics, that they've completely lost touch with reality.
  40. JavierS.
    Dec 6, 2009
    8
    One of the best albums of 2009 hands down!
  41. CraigL.
    Oct 3, 2009
    9
    I really loved this album, with the quality of music being so low at the moment and critics raving on about artists that will never be remembered like AIC will be, this is a great return and sadly it will just go under the rader because quality music isnt appreciated anymore by radio, mtv and critics alike.
  42. KrisD
    Oct 4, 2009
    9
    Spin and rollingstone have no clue what they are talking about.Awesome album. I never look to those magazines on advice regarding which albums I should buy, Pretentious is all I have to say about them.
  43. KeithG
    Oct 5, 2009
    8
    Excellent return, it is sad that Layne can't be around for it but life goes on. This is very much a Jerry Cantrell project, it has his trademark sound and feel all the way through. Some of the heavier songs tend to stray a bit but the more melodic tracks are beauties. Sometimes eerily beautiful as DuVall sounds just a bit too much like Layne on them!
  44. chrisc
    Sep 30, 2009
    8
    If you don't compare it having the band with Layne and are open minded about it. It is a solid rock album. It sounds like Alice and is a good listen. Duvall does a good job with the voice blend and the music sounds like old Alice. Worth the buy for sure.
  45. JoeyB
    Oct 11, 2009
    9
    An amazing and stunning album that requires time to reveal itself to the listener, and a few more listens will no doubt make you appreciate it more.
  46. ArtieS
    Nov 18, 2009
    9
    Wow, critics slam band. Reminds me of Stone Temple Pilots in their early days. Solid album from fans perspective.A couple weak filler songs but definitely a recommend.
  47. ChrisF
    Nov 26, 2009
    9
    More dragging than most have hanging.
  48. KeatonR
    Oct 14, 2009
    10
    Best album to be released in a very very very long time, I cannot stop listening to it, even if I try to, every single song on this album is beautiful and bursting with talent, a hard thing to come by today, this album can only be described in one word. Masterpiece.
  49. Bruce
    Nov 6, 2009
    10
    This album exceeds Jar of Flies. The vocals sound like Layne Staley, the songs have melody and punch and the guitars are thicker than ever. I'm on my 50th listen in the past two weeks. This record has just overtaken Oasis' Dig Out Your Soul as my top pick of the year.
  50. IanC
    Dec 11, 2009
    9
    Love it love it. We saw Alice in Chains play in Paris last week and what really hit home was how well these new tracks mix with the old, keeping the style we know and love with some serious groove and soul brought by the FABULOUS new front man, and kudos to him for having the courage to step into such massive shoes. Alice in Chains were always all music and zero grunge attitude, just a Love it love it. We saw Alice in Chains play in Paris last week and what really hit home was how well these new tracks mix with the old, keeping the style we know and love with some serious groove and soul brought by the FABULOUS new front man, and kudos to him for having the courage to step into such massive shoes. Alice in Chains were always all music and zero grunge attitude, just a bunch of guys who love what they do and this CD oozes that quality. Expand
  51. Peter
    Nov 15, 2009
    9
    I'm actually really, really surprised at how good this disc is. The first song is an instant AIC classic, great riffs, great vocals. This Duval guy has a perfect voice for AIC, very close to Layne's. I recommend this disc highly!
  52. Dec 1, 2010
    8
    Alice In Chains. One of the greatest bands i know.

    With the death of Layne Staley, the band haven't done a album in years.

    I personally think this was a definitely this was a great comeback album and show they still got their talented Jerry Cantrell as song writer and I think this album is great with their new singer William Duvall.

    Rip Layne
  53. Jan 5, 2011
    7
    The revival of one of the greatest bands of the grunge era returns with more ringing harmonies and guitar solos this time with new headman William Duvall. Although without the limitless and ultra-talented late-Layne Staley, the band continues to make great music with hits such as "Your Decision," "Lesson Learned," "Private Hell," "Acid Bubble," and many more. Guitar and vocalist JerryThe revival of one of the greatest bands of the grunge era returns with more ringing harmonies and guitar solos this time with new headman William Duvall. Although without the limitless and ultra-talented late-Layne Staley, the band continues to make great music with hits such as "Your Decision," "Lesson Learned," "Private Hell," "Acid Bubble," and many more. Guitar and vocalist Jerry Cantrell, as well as Sean Kinney and Mike Inez also return to continue the legacy and continuation of grunge in modern music. Expand
  54. May 23, 2011
    9
    A great album for someone waiting for grunge to come back (Pearl Jam reissues don't count). William Duvall is a worthy addition to the band. "Check My Brain," "Your Decision," and "Black Gives Way to Blue" are all highlights.
  55. Dec 8, 2011
    10
    Surprisingly for some, this is probably the best AIC album. Every track has that special touch which makes every bridge or chorus irresistible, even for the non-fan, and positively not turning it into a cheap work in exchange. Jerry Cantrell shows again - and better than ever - why he's the most gifted songwriter and guitar hero from that rainy, unbelievable hometown. William DuVall is aSurprisingly for some, this is probably the best AIC album. Every track has that special touch which makes every bridge or chorus irresistible, even for the non-fan, and positively not turning it into a cheap work in exchange. Jerry Cantrell shows again - and better than ever - why he's the most gifted songwriter and guitar hero from that rainy, unbelievable hometown. William DuVall is a blessing from the heavens and his strong presence in each required situation grants him nothing but admiration. There's no such "roller coaster" feeling as you travel through the record, what I believe was some kind of "regular irregularity" present in the previous releases. Expand
  56. Jun 21, 2012
    10
    Great album, great band. Enough said.
  57. Jan 6, 2016
    8
    Black Gives Way to Blue is powerful, it uses its prominent bass to fantastic effect, every song has its qualities and it is an album that I regard highly. Some songs are absolutely fantastic, with All Secrets Known being probably the second best Alice in Chains songs I’ve heard; but there are a few songs that don’t keep up that fantastic quality, and there is a distinct lack of riffs. ButBlack Gives Way to Blue is powerful, it uses its prominent bass to fantastic effect, every song has its qualities and it is an album that I regard highly. Some songs are absolutely fantastic, with All Secrets Known being probably the second best Alice in Chains songs I’ve heard; but there are a few songs that don’t keep up that fantastic quality, and there is a distinct lack of riffs. But the awesome songs along with everything else that’s good about the record – from William Duval to its unique sound – makes it a great album. But maybe not quite as good as The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here.

    82/100.
    Expand
  58. Jun 19, 2013
    10
    Incredible return by AIC. William DuVall is wonderful. Great music and production. Was very skeptical upon team returning after Layne Staley passed, but this group is here to stay. My album of the year in rock for 2009.
  59. Mar 26, 2013
    10
    Other than the replacement of the junkie Layne Staley with William Duval (whose vocals are almost always overshadowed by Jerry Cantrell), this is classic AIC. No complaints here.
  60. Sep 12, 2013
    10
    A terrific comeback album by the best grunge band of the 90s, Black Gives Way To Blue is heavier and has greater sludge influences than the earlier albums, but that just adds to the allure. It is the perfect mix of heavy tracks such as "Check My Brain" and "A Looking In View", and mellow ones such as "Your Decision" and "When The Sun Rose Again". The title track is a heart-warming tributeA terrific comeback album by the best grunge band of the 90s, Black Gives Way To Blue is heavier and has greater sludge influences than the earlier albums, but that just adds to the allure. It is the perfect mix of heavy tracks such as "Check My Brain" and "A Looking In View", and mellow ones such as "Your Decision" and "When The Sun Rose Again". The title track is a heart-warming tribute to Layne Staley, who will remain in our hearts forever. Will DuVall is a fitting replacement and ensures that there is no decline in quality as far as the music is concerned. All in all, an amazing return. Grunge is back. Expand
  61. Mar 26, 2016
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. It's always going to be a big challenge to replace a classic band member that was loved by the fans, and even more so to carry on releasing good quality albums and maintaining a level of success. However, Alice in Chains have succeeded in carrying on without fallen bandmate Layne Staley, reforming a few years after his tragic death and hiring vocalist/guitarist William DuVall to take his place in the band. Sure, it's easy to say that you can never really replace someone like Layne Staley, or that "there's no Alice In Chains without Layne" but this album does nothing but great justice to the legacy of Alice in Chains. Nowhere will you find anything even potentially embarrassing, or anything that might tarnish their good name. This is a comeback that has been done properly.

    Now, of course, aside from DuVall, the lineup consists of mainstays guitarist Jerry Cantrell and drummer Sean Kinney, as well as bassist Mike Inez, who joined during the band's original run, replacing original bassist Mike Starr (who, like Layne, is no longer with us today). DuVall fits into his role in the group seamlessly. Most of his vocals are shared with Cantrell, which is no problem at all. Cantrell has always had a strong voice which was becoming a more significant part of the band's sound even when Layne will still there, and also shone through in his solo work. The dual vocal style of the band adds more power and energy to the music overall.

    This album maintains pretty much all of the trademark elements of the band's sound, including their dark, moody guitar riffs and their metal sensibility. They sound just as confident as they always have, and have no problem finding their feet even after their many years of dormancy (this is the band's first studio album in 14 years) some of the songs, especially "All Secrets Known", "Last of my Kind" and perhaps also "Acid Bubble" remind me of the albums Dirt and their self titled, and wouldn't sound too out of place on either of those albums. I don't mean that in a bad way. They haven't ripped off those albums, but they sure still have the ability to write the same strong kind of stuff. "All Secrets Known" for example, is slow moving but heavy, and carries a deterministic feel, which makes for a great album opener. "Acid Bubble" is also slow, with a sinister feel and some slightly faster, heavier parts throughout.

    Alice in Chains have never been a "happy" band, but there's one fairly upbeat song on here named "Check My Brain" which is also one of my favourite songs on the album. The guitars are crunchy and dominating, and the vocals and drums are strong enough to accompany them amidst the loudness. On the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty of melancholy, soft moments to be found on the album. While we are provided with many trademark dark songs, the more melancholy parts are a welcome change of pace, and it is because they are done so beautifully that they enhance the listening experience. "Your Decision" is a sad and eerie mid-tempo song, with orchestral elements and passionately sung vocals. "Private Hell" is a slower moving song, again with orchestral elements, that takes you on a 5 and a half minute journey of loneliness and despair, sending shivers down your spine.

    The title track, which closes the album, provides a suitable final farewell to Layne. Drums are absent, and It features a guest appearance from Elton John on the piano, and creates a haunting atmosphere that sounds ghostly, almost like our lost loved ones are looking down on us from the afterlife. It's difficult for me to express how it makes the listener feel in this review. All I can say is please listen to this song, at least. It's one of the most moving pieces of music you will ever hear.

    This album has a lot of standard Alice in Chains fare, but also plenty of surprises thrown in the mix to keep the listener interested, such as percussion and orchestral parts, and songs that sound unlike anything the band has done before. And it should not be forgotten that the material is consistently strong and does the Alice in Chains name justice. It doesn't sound like a typical grunge album, or a typical metal album. It sounds like Alice in Chains being themselves, full of confidence and energy to make a powerful and satisfying comeback album that you can't afford not to have in your collection.

    Originally posted on Encyclopedia Metallum
    Expand
Metascore
69

Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. While there are a few lulls, none are glaringly offensive, and the band builds up so much good will with the stronger material that it’s easy to surrender again to these Chains.
  2. There’s still something oddly admirable about Alice In Chains’ stubborn refusal to change.
  3. What Black lacks are great tunes and a sense of can't-look-away drama.