The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

Alice In Chains

Capitol, 2013

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Black Gives Way To Blue accomplished more than what it is expected of a reunion disc, recalling past themes while forging a new path, satisfying fans of the old and perhaps bringing new ones into the fold, and by no means sullying what has come before. New singer William DuVall wisely chose not to copy Layne Staley, but his style was similar and meshed well with Jerry Cantrell, the songwriter, guitarist and part-time singer who embodies Alice In Chains just as much as Layne did, if not more.

After the relative critical and commercial success of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Black, the quartet decided to attempt a second album four years later. Evidently, all of the diversity of Cantrell's songwriting deserted him in the interim, because The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here is one long power-chord slog through the murk.

Granted, that sound has been the backbone of every Alice in Chains album, those fat Sabbath-inspired low-end muddy riffs that slowly drag the listener to hell. But half of Alice's best songs feature acoustic guitar, or quicker tempos, or emotional vocals that give the music purpose. Devil features almost none of that, and it is a disappointing, noisy listen that is easily forgotten.

It's honestly difficult to tell the songs apart, and if there are melodies present they are buried under the layers of thick guitar sludge. Cantrell and DuVall harmonize well and nothing is an outright stinker, but neither is anything jaw-dropping or emotionally resonant the way Cantrell's music can be.

The album title is not stupid, actually, since the title song is a jab at ignorant religious fundamentalists who ignore science and promote hate ("The devil put dinosaurs here / Jesus don't like a queer"); it falls short of the epic it wants to be, but it's not bad. "Stone," the first single, is probably the highlight, with Cantrell channeling Metallica's ReLoad, adding a decent solo and DuVall's lyrics about putting up walls ("I'm not your tour guide / I guess I don't let you look inside ... Find me distant, outwardly rough"). "Scalpel" is the acoustic entry, but it doesn't stack up to "Your Decision" from Black, let alone anything from Jar Of Flies.

Much of the rest is layers of loud, slow guitar riffs, played at the speed of a diseased tortoise crawling through molasses, and it is truly dull. One or two songs at a time goes a long way, though it's difficult to imagine a time when someone is in the mood for hard rock or Alice In Chains and decides to reach for this one.

Rating: C-

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