Reformed in 2005 from the ashes of tragedy, Alice in Chains continues to be one of the finest groups to have emerged from the early 90’s Seattle Grunge movement. Having released two records since reuniting (with new lead singer William DuVall), Alice in Chains has spent the last few years touring the world, both as a headliner and as one of the opening acts on Guns N Roses’ “Not in this Lifetime… Tour.” Their latest string of shows brought them to The Pool at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, with their blend of crunching riffs, melodious vocals, and heart wrenching lyrics were a sight to behold.
William DuVall, pulling double duty as rhythm guitarist and lead singer, has acclimated himself wonderfully despite the neigh impossible task of replacing the late Layne Staley. DuVall had previously performed with founding guitarist Jerry Cantrell in his solo group, and their chemistry was evident from the first song. The pair’s vocal harmonies were perfectly in sync and DuVall was able to both match Staley’s vocal intensity as well as carve out his own unique voice. The pain in DuVall’s voice, especially during songs like “Down in a Hole”, was reminiscent of Layne’s style without becoming a mimicry or parody.
The rhythm section, consisting of Mike Inez and Sean Kinney, has always been the lynch-pin of Alice in Chains since Inez joined the band in 1993. The two perfectly blend with the music of the band, neither overpowering somber songs like “Nutshell” nor sinking in the mix of the far heavier songs, such as “Dam That River”. Kinney’s eclectic drumming during “No Excuses” and Inez’ thumping bassline to open “Would?” were the perfect way to end the band’s set, as each songs provides a glimpse into what makes these two, as well as the whole band, truly special.
Given Staley’s reclusive nature from the beginning, lead guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell has always been at the forefront of the band. Now as the primary songwriter, he has taken upon himself more prominent vocal duties (such as in songs like “Check My Brain” and “Last of My Kind”) as well as providing much of the guitar work in the band. Cantrell is one of the most underappreciated guitar players of the last 3 decades, holding the crown as probably the finest writer of guitar riffs since Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi. His guitar work was on full display at The Pool, with the talk-box section of “Man in the Box” as well as the chug of “Again” standing out as highlights.
Alice in Chains brought their A-game to the pool, and was a perfect antidote to the searing heat just now leaving the valley. Their combination of grunge aesthetics, heavy metal rhythm, and rock ‘n’ roll bravado provide for a one-of-a-kind experience.
Review by Kevin Kuhlman
Photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents
Venue: The Pool at Talking Stick Resort
Photo © Fred Kuhlman 2016
Hollow (The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here)
Them Bones (Dirt)
Dam That River (Dirt)
Again (Alice in Chains)
Check My Brain (Back Gives Way To Blue)
Nutshell (Jar Of Flies)
Angry Chair (Dirt)
Man In The Box (Facelift)
Your Decision (Black Gives Way To Blue)
Down In A Hole (Dirt)
Stone (The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here)
Last Of My Kind (Black Gives Way To Blue)
We Die Young (Facelift)
Got Me Wrong (Sap)
No Excuses (Jar Of Flies)