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Ever since the death of Layne Staley, there's been something missing in the music world. No matter how much I wanted it to, the new incarnation of Alice in Chains doesn't even come close. Cantrell's solo work barely even attempts to.
Superficially at least, A Storm of Light sounds a lot more like The Gates of Slumber, with an ultra-heavy sound that fits in perfectly with the new school of traditional doom. They also clearly take some influence from Neurosis, as you might expect since this band is fronted by their own Josh Graham. But every time I hear it, I think of Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, that borderland where grunge meets metal.
Memorable melodies are laid down by the bass, while the guitar layers atmosphere over the top. Appropriately enough, Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil appears on two tracks--which happen to be two standout cuts. The drums are interesting and varied (check out "Leave No Wounds"). Each song has hints of all these styles, but they emphasize one over another in different ways, from the grunge of "Wretched Valley", to the doom of "Missing", to the post-rock of "Collapse". The album ends on the epic "Wasteland", which also prominently features female vocals.
The music is excellent, but ultimately, it would be incomplete without the vocals. They mostly drone, not unlike Neurosis's Scott Kelly or, indeed, Layne Staley, complete with hints of the late frontman's pained, nasally delivery.
The Verdict: Profound Lore hit it out of the park again.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/