There is a new strain of the AiC virus. While still carrying many of the same traits as the original, this variation has modified itself into a much more potent and lethal carrier that has the capabilities of spreading much further thanks to an uncanny ability to infect many who would never have come in contact with the original version.
As with many infections of this type, the latest AiC bug will get inside of you and may not make itself a dominate presence for a period of time but with prolonged exposure, you will certainly start to feel the effects of this affliction.
The first symptoms are usually an uncontrollable urge to sing at any given point the line "Somebody Check My Brain" from the song of the same name. This is going to be the catch phrase of the year in my estimation as it is one of those tunes that will not get out of your head no matter what. With a terrific, slightly off kilter guitar lick, it is a delight that will remind you how that grunge stuff was really pretty cool and still is!
Next you might find yourself with severe neck pain courtesy of new lead singer William Duvall and his snarling contagious refrain from the song "Last Of My Kind". Here he really takes the reins and shows he is not just a fill in for their much respected original lead singer Layne Staley. Not only that but Jerry Cantrell delivers a blistering guitar solo on this cut also. This along with the track "A Looking In View" are two of the heaviest songs on the disc and maybe in their whole catalogue.
Another sign you are afflicted is the affinity for great harmonies and acoustic work like they give you with "When The Sun Rose Again". This is one of the ways that Alice In Chains proved to be a band that set themselves apart and here is just one example on the disc which shows this quality that really makes them unique.
Lastly there is the fever that is produced by the irresistible slow grungy sounds that has made this band one of the icons of the past decades. When the burning in your head created by the slow, simmering style used on songs like "Acid Bubble" reaches its peak, there is only one thing to do… which is use the old folk remedy; Starve a cold, feed a fever. Feed this one well, feed if often and feed it loud!
This is not only a great reunion album, it is an album that will grow on you with ever spin you give it. I have to say that the first time I heard it I was a little bit under whelmed. Then I kept listening. Each time I put it on it started to infect. Soon all the symptoms above started to show up and before you knew it I was seeing this album in a whole different light. I think the turning point was listening to the song "Lesson Learned". Realizing that this disc was more or less a tribute to Layne Staley and hearing the line:
"You know when you find it
In Your darkest hour, you strike gold
A thought clicks, not the be-all end-all
Just a lesson learned".
The band has come through their darkest hour for sure and with this disc they most certainly have struck gold. It is really an amazing journey through eleven songs with a great finale that boast Sir Elton John on piano with the poignant goodbye to Staley, "Black Gives Way To Blue". This one shows just how much that Cantrell and the boys have grown up in the last decade and also how great of a band they really are.
1. All Secrets Known
2. Check My Brain
3. Last Of My Kind
4. Your Decision
5. A Looking In View
6. When The Sun Rose Again
7. Acid Bubble
8. Lesson Learned
9. Take Her Out
10. Private Hell
11. Black Gives Way To Blue