By at 8:44 AM Saturday, July 4th 2009

 

Alice In Chains Did Not Hire Lenny Kravitz

Alice In Chains, Music

 

Out of all the possible ways for a band to reunite after being apart for several years, one could say that hiring a new lead singer isn’t exactly the right way to captivate the audiences, at least not when the old lead singer is a dearly departed legend.

When Layne Staley died from a drug overdose in 2002, it seemed most unlikely that Alice In Chains would ever play again. However, a few years ago, Jerry Cantrell, Mike Inez, and Sean Kinney decided it was time to get back on the road, and to fill in Layne’s shoes, guitarist and chief songwriter Cantrell asked his friend William Duvall, lead singer of Comes With The Fall (who opened for Jerry Cantrell on his solo tour) to join the rest of the gang. Of course, the hardcore AIC fanbase immediately recoiled: as if it wasn’t enough that the band was playing without Layne, they were playing with this guy:

alice-in-chains

Getting someone who looks more like Lenny Kravitz than Layne Staley is just the right way to piss off your fans. However, once common sense settled in and people actually heard the band perform, doubts were lifted as to William’s capability to sing. Not only could he do a mean impression of Layne, his voice was arguably cleaner – especially if you compare him to Staley’s last performances with the band, when his drug habits were clearly harming his singing abilities.

Taking into consideration that  Jerry Cantrell was always the main driving force behind Alice In Chains, having writing credits for almost every song since Dirt and handling his share of lead vocal roles, it was a bit hard to hate this “revival,” if you can even call it that.

So what’s missing to fully legitimize this incarnation of Alice In Chains? Why, new songs, of course. Rumors of a new album have been circulating for a couple years, with the band members alternately refuting each other’s claims – at one point, it was unknown whether a new album would be acoustic or electric, or if it was even being made to fit the Alice name.

Finally, we have some clarification: on September 29, 2009, Black Gives Way To Blue, Alice In Chains’ fourth album will finally be released. Earlier this week, the first song to be unveiled from the album, A Looking In View, was made available freely at their official website, and you can hear it here as well:

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

If this is any indication of what’s to come, one thing is certain: it fucking sounds like Alice In Chains. At 7 minutes long, this epic track is one of the band’s longest songs to date. Despite the track’s length, however, there are no huge solos or elaborate tempo changes to speak of: A Looking In View is heavy and menacing, making good use of Jerry’s immediately identifiable riffs and Kinney/Inez’s powerfully dynamic rythm section.

Interestingly, what stands out the most are the vocals, in which Duvall and Cantrell share the lead with surprisingly fluid chemistry. Those expecting Jerry to take over most of the vocals, safely burying the new singer under the mix, will be surprised. In fact, it’s pretty hard to tell which of the singers is louder in the mix. But that doesn’t matter: their voices blend perfectly, it sounds fucking great, and it sounds like Alice In Chains. Now, hopefully, people will stop worrying about whether this new lineup is honorable or not, and just pay attention to the music. It sounds like it’ll pay off in the end.

 
 

Meanwhile, On The Internet...

 
24 comments
  1. Mike says:

    you guys are a few days late on this one, but fuck yeah. I love the new song.

  2. Yeah that’d be my fault for sitting on the piece for a couple days (sorry Fernando!), but the song’s good and I’m interested to see how this develops.

  3. \o/

    Feels good to see it up here.

  4. Skwerl says:

    this alice in chains fan didn’t “recoil” because the new lead singer was black. and thankfully i don’t know anyone else that did, because that would be racist and fucked up. my issue was just that they replaced layne.
    but the song is good, and good piece otherwise. welcome aboard!

  5. Dana says:

    I was apprehensive (being a huge Layne fan), but after seeing AIC live with William, well, let’s just say that I’ve been made a believer. Dude can sing and he’s got tons of stage presence. Can’t wait to hear the new album.

  6. Well I’m sure the reference wasn’t to race, but moreso that he doesn’t adhere to the traditional grunge-hangon image code.

  7. I sent Johnny another pic where he looked like a goddamn cover version of Lenny Kravitz. From the leather jacket to the sunglasses. I shit you not.

    And I had no idea what to use as a title, so I left that to Johnny.

  8. Mike says:

    yeah, I was worried because the guy they brought in was a complete unknown. Its nice seeing someone out front who’s conscious and aware of their surroundings.

  9. Skwerl says:

    well everything about his image fits the stereotype besides his race. haven’t seen him rocking bellbottoms and platform shoes or anything. t-shirt, jeans, and leather jacket just like everyone else. i saw those pics where he has the big sunglasses looking like boots riley, but pretty much everywhere else he’s black chris cornell, appearance wise. i’d like to think the fans care more about the quality of the new music and whether the guy fills layne’s shoes vocally or not.

  10. Joseph Rose says:

    First off, I really dig the song. No beef with the guys vocal ability, or the direction of the music.

    Now, I saw this version of the band live. And while his voice is solid, what didn’t sit right with me was his whole demeanor. He was smiling, and just sooo happy to be there. He looked like a guy in a cover band happily playing along to AIC’s greatest hits. What made this band what was (in part) was the fact that when Layne was singing about how he was dying and “down in a hole”, he really was. There was an intense, inescapable truth that made an album like Dirt so fucking powerful. Now this happy guy was dancing around the stage singing those words. It wasn’t the same.

    But again, I’m all for hearing a great new album. And honestly, if I had it my way, AIC would have continued on as a 3-piece. Jerry can do it.

  11. Man, I am totally regretting that Lenny Kravitz comparison.

  12. Joseph Rose says:

    Racist. Oh by the way…

    new Dark Disco Club iPhone app is live in the app store:
    http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=320542911&mt=8

  13. F – Stand by it, it’s a valid visual comparison. http://blip.fm/~9doln

  14. Stoo says:

    Anyone who still mopes for Staley can fuck off back to the 90s and stay there. I think its awesome AIC had the balls to carry on. New song’s a fucking monster, bring on the album.

  15. Rory says:

    I saw Alice In Chains 5 times on the 2006 tour. They were fucking stellar every time and he did a great job on stage.

    I can’t wait until they come around again.

    I was skeptical like everyone else at first, but this guy proved me wrong.

  16. trucks says:

    I’m pissed their show in London is sold out while I’m over there

    If anyone wants to be a dear and help me find tickets I would be forever grateful as I’m not having much luck.

    Cheers

  17. Hypernation says:

    Great to hear these boyos again. Great article. I caught them on July 4th 06 in London (just over 3 years ago) – still the best band I have ever seen live. Well, maybe joint first with Pantera.

  18. zooopster says:

    I saw them open for Velvet Revolver in 07 with Duvall on vocals and they fucking SHREDDED it live. He is the real deal. I can’t wait for the new album.

  19. zooopster says:

    The title of the article was not only a “valid visual comparison”, but it was damn funny to boot, and an effective attention grabber. Not racist, imo. That’s called good writing people.

  20. Orsino says:

    Eventhough the Jerry Cantrell albums might as well fallen under the “AIC” moniker, I’m tickled pink to see one of my all time favorite bands come out with a new album.

  21. Evil Bat Witch says:

    Late to the party again, I completely missed this first article from Fernando. I too listened to the new track, felt proud that I have seen the “new AIC” 3 times. William does a great job singing, his stage presence is magnetic. The first show I saw them at, he was on his first tour with AIC and kept low key as the band played sets that played tribute to Layne. The next shows, he strutted and played with confidence. William is here to stay, I hope, and this new song sounded like old school. Glad they are finally coming out with the album!

  22. Dude sure does look like Lenny Kravitz! That’s okay, though, he’s got a set of lungs on him and can wail! I look forward to getting the album in September, in fact, I can’t wait!!! Reminds me of Drowning Pool, with their new lead singer (dude from Soil). Different, but just as well :)

  23. big duff says:

    YES YES YES!!!!!!!!

    Now this is a band who’s music I’m very familiar with.

    Great.

    Glad to hear this track, and others, and will be getting the album whence it arriveth soonest !!!!

    nnnnyaaaaaawwwwwww!!!!

  24. Elmer Frair says:

    Hi, This is really a fantastic iPhone course which is offered thru online videos, pdf files, one-on-one sessons, Worksheets and live projects

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