Very few bands have impacted the evolution of alternative metal and modern hard rock as profoundly as the Layne Staley era of Alice in Chains. It's no overstatement to claim that nearly every post-grunge act of the last two decades has been inspired by the group's dark, lurching riffage and the late singer's bleak, harrowing lyricism. Not surprisingly, little of that progeny has matched the grotesquely foreboding fountain from which it sprung. From the haunting Jar of Flies EP to the group's bloody, epic masterpiece, Dirt, Alice in Chains poured all their nightmares, pain and anguish -- and there was a lot of it, no doubt about that -- into music that oftentimes is just too damn frightening for casual listening. The opening lines to "Hate to Feel," all gnarled and warped, perfectly sum up their M.O.: "What's gone wrong?/ I can't see straight/ Been too long/ So full of hate."
The recently configured Alice in Chains, with William DuVall (also of Comes with the Fall) taking over lead vocal duties, doesn't totally re-create the intensity found on those early releases. (What group could -- or would want to, in all honesty?) Yet the two albums they have released to date, including the brand-new The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, are solid, hard-hitting works that prove Alice in Chains have always been a genuine group effort, one boasting formidable resilience.