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(Shush... you’ll scare it away. These pure grunge beasts are very rare now).

Rating: 5 / 10

Patrick Freyne, 16 Sep 2009

For their long-awaited fourth album (FOURTEEN YEARS might reasonably be described as a long wait) Alice In Chains provide the sort of tom-heavy drums, riffing buzzsaw guitars and simply-harmonised alpha-male growling that have been their stock-in-trade since grunge crawled out of the primordial sludge of hair metal during the reign of Bush I. Indeed, on one track (relatively) new vocalist William DuVall groans about being “last of my kind still standing” and there’s indeed a touch of King Kong about their graceless but noble rampage through the city of postmodern pop.

And yet, particularly on well-crafted acoustic ballads like ‘When The Sun Rose Again’ and ‘Your Decision’, they successfully conjure up an alternative universe where long greasy hair and plaid shirts are still the order of the day. Now, you’re not really going to be able to sing along (they don’t have melodies so much as minimally-toned minor key animalistic groans), and you’re not really going to be able to dance to the trudging beats (unless you’ve got a peculiar foot deformity). Yet... there’s still something oddly admirable about Alice In Chains’ stubborn refusal to change. And as they rear up on a cliff-side like a beauteous stag, they do cause the world-weary pop-hunter to hold his breath and sigh... before lining up, taking aim, and pulling the trigger.

Rating: 5 / 10
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