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Nothing seems to get Alice In Chains down, not even the loss of 2 of their founding members. With all the tenacity and ingenuity that can be expected from a man who toiled throughout the 80s to bring a heavier brand of metal back on the radar, Jerry Cantrell just keeps soldiering on, and with the help of newcomer guitarist and vocalist William DuVall has resurrected the most powerful force of the early 90s Seattle scene. But a single comeback album isn't sufficient for the reputation that proceeds such a band, thus in the closing days of 2012 an offering of equal caliber to the bulk of what was "Black Gives Way To Blue" has come forth under the name "Hollow".
Perhaps what is most enticing about a song of this sort is that it grabs the listener in spite of its predictability, riding off a familiar mixture of dense, eerie vocal harmonies and muddy, atmospheric guitar work. Apart from DuVall's less nasally vocal character in comparison to the departed Layne Staley, there isn't a whole lot separating this song from the dark and forbidding character heard on the band's self-titled 3rd album. This is the sort of song that functions more on atmosphere and density rather than an impact, thus it tends to grow over repeated listens like a fungus as it trudges through a limited set of minimalist ideas stacked one on top of the other.
As of now, there is little word about what Alice In Chains' 5th album is going to be, but if this song is any indication, something a bit closer to the older days than "Black Gives Way To Blue" is what is in store. It exudes that basic quality of darkened cynicism with a touch of ironic beauty that could only come from Jerry Cantrell's head, a head which continually proves to be heavy and bleak enough for metal, but somehow always finds itself lumped in with the media manufactured Grunge scene. Kurt Cobain never wrote anything this nuanced, nor could Pearl Jam be bothered to break out of its classic rock orthodoxy to write something this intense.