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Mr Fun is back - 91%

Deathdoom1992, May 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Capitol Records

After releasing Black Gives Way to Blue to much fanfare in 2009, Alice in Chains allowed a lengthy gestation period of four years before putting out a follow-up to their much-beloved first reunion album. And there is one burning question for tons of Alice fans everywhere: is it as good as that album?

The answer: yes. But not just as good; no, that would be too simple (and, for AiC, not that difficult). Oh no, guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and god amongst men Jerry Cantrell has crafted an album that is so good that it simply invalidates the existence of Black Gives Way to Blue.

Now, that sounds harsh, but what The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here does is it takes all of the good elements of its immediate predecessor and pushes them right to the forefront, and what we're left with is nothing short of a modern metal masterpiece.

This album, quite simply, sounds fucking HUGE. Drums and bass add a depth to the lower end roughly equivalent to the depth of the Pacific Ocean, and just sound, well, booming. Mike Inez's bass work on tracks like "Stone" is a force of nature and every hit on Sean Kinney's drums can be felt right through the listener's speakers. I have nothing but praise for Nick Raskulinecz for producing this album and capturing such an enormous sound so well. This album avoids getting involved in the so-called "loudness war," and yet the effect achieved is that of pure sonic force.

Another thing I love about this album is Cantrell's trademark sludgy, deliberate riffing. There's nothing uptempo here, which means it could be easy to lose the listener among a sea of downtempo songs, but the riffs are so engaging throughout that one remains interested through the entire (lengthy, too) duration. I'm sure that a contributing factor to these huge, simplistic mammoths of riffs are aided by the fact that William DuVall is more of a second guitarist than vocalist, and definitely more of a second guitarist than Layne Staley, and so his backing just gives these riffs a thick, sludgy sound which is simply brilliant.

Notably, Jerry Cantrell is pretty much the primary singer here; DuVall is mainly responsible for harmonies and stuff (and Alice's strong vocal harmonies are, as ever, intact, with DuVall providing a perfect complement to Cantrell's voice), and what he lacks in range, he makes up for in emotion and the fact his voice is literally a perfect fit for the music. Case in point: listen to "Hollow" and tell me it'd work with any other vocalist, even Layne.

One last thing I gotta praise is the amazing consistency of this album. I mean, at 67 minutes long, I'm sure many a potential listener shuddered at the thought of the amount of filler on here. But rest assured, reader, listener, whatever you are, the quality from song to song is remarkably high. Sure, there's maybe a couple of tracks that are pretty "eh," but they don't hurt the album overall, and don't negatively affect the listening experience.

A final thing I want to note is that I have not directly compared this in terms of quality with any original-era albums. This is because I consider the two incarnations of the band essentially separate. This is not to rag on the talented William DuVall, but because neither this nor its predecessor sounds much like anything the '90s band would put out. Therefore, I consider stacking this up against, say, the self-titled, would be unfair, although I love both albums for what they are. And it's worth mentioning that I think the worst thing AiC could have possibly done would have been to continue on with the '90s sound was continue on in the same vein. People would have tired of that shit real quick. But, as it is, this is everything you could want from an Alice in Chains reunion and more. Find this album and buy it.