The improbable return of Alice in Chains on 2009’s Black Gives Way to Blue remains one of the best comeback stories in rock and metal’s history. So many bands in the past have disbanded after a member passes away, and who can blame them? With such loss and pain lingering in both their personal and professional lives, it’s hard to believe that any performer would want to continue after losing a friend or bandmate. Yet Alice in Chains managed to not only survive their grief at the loss of Layne Staley, but they came back even stronger than before. With William DuVall now providing the voice of the band, Alice in Chains gave rock fans one of the things they love most – a well-executed comeback story. Today, we get the continuation of that tale, as well as many other exciting new releases. Check them all out here!
Alice in Chains, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (Virgin/EMI)
Black Gives Way to Blue made a very strong opening statement, courtesy of its debut at number 5 on the Billboard charts. Some credited the strength of that debut to diehard fans just happy to see the band back in action, but reviews of the album told a different story. Reviews within the US were nearly unanimous in praising the album, and international acclaim came in even greater quantities. Now that the band has established their new lineup as being just as good or better than the old one, they can move on to experimenting and trying on new things. Jerry Cantrell has made it perfectly clear that the band is doing exactly that on their new album, at least from a lyrical standpoint. In several interviews, Cantrell has stated that the album is going to focus, at least in part, on some of the more outdated and senseless views held by religious fundamentalists. The album title itself is an allusion to a theory held by some fundamentalists, which states that Satan hid dinosaur bones on Earth to confuse the faithful and lead them astray. How this new lyrical approach will be received by fans remains to be seen, but so far, the two singles that have been released off the album seem to indicate that The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here will perform similarly to its predecessor.
Dark Tranquillity, Construct (Century Media)
This year marks the 20-year anniversary of Dark Tranquillity’s first release, Skydancer. Considered by many to be one of the pioneering releases in the melodic death metal world, Skydancer was a momentous achievement at the time of its release, and remains a landmark in the metal world to this day. It was through that album that Dark Tranquillity earned their place alongside In Flames and At the Gates as founders of the Gothenburg scene and sound. Two decades later, Dark Tranquillity still holds their place of honor as one of the veteran bands of Sweden, honored elders in a scene that they still influence today. The band’s releases in the past decade – Character, Fiction, and We Are the Void – have been among the band’s most creative, energetic, and well-composed pieces in their entire discography, and Construct promises to be no different. The band has had to endure one change recently, though, as bassist Daniel Antonsson (Dimension Zero, ex-Soilwork) elected to part ways with the band in February. The departure was on good terms, as Antonsson wanted to focus more on playing guitar and working as a producer and engineer. However, no replacement has been announced as of yet, so it remains to be seen how this will impact the band’s capacity to play live for the near future.
Kylesa, Ultraviolet (Season of Mist)
The pride and joy of Savannah, Kylesa has grown by leaps and bounds in their popularity since 2006’s Time Will Fuse Its Worth. Drawing comparisons from critics to bands like Mastodon, High on Fire, and Isis, Kylesa has proven over time that they are capable of matching or exceeding the standards of excellence that such comparisons have set for them. The nearly-universal positive reviews that 2010’s Spiral Shadow received only furthered the band’s reputation as a new standard-bearer for sludge metal, but surprisingly, the band could not manage to break into the Billboard 200. Hopefully, Ultraviolet will be the album to change that statistic. The album is said to have a darker tone, both lyrically and musically, than its predecessors, and it also stated to have more vocal parts from Laura Pleasants. Hopefully, these inclusions can help to push Kylesa over the edge and onto the charts.
Judas Priest, Epitaph (Sony Legacy)
It’s been a year since Judas Priest ended their Epitaph World Tour with their final set at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. It was a bittersweet moment for many fans, as the band closed out their touring career with one of the most diverse and wide-ranging sets of their entire touring career. Drawing at least one song from each of their sixteen studio albums, the final live set for one of heavy metal’s timeless bands was certainly an epic event in every possible way. Now the millions of Priest fans worldwide that couldn’t see that final performance will get to witness it for themselves, courtesy of this DVD release. Even though the band has made it clear that they will release at least one more full-length album, there is no guarantee that they will ever play live again. And if they choose not to, this release will serve as a fitting record of their inimitable live performances. Epitaph is also available on Blu-ray for those wishing to see this performance in HD.
Also being released this week:
Skinny Puppy, Weapon (Metropolis)
Black Star Riders, All Hell Breaks Loose (Nuclear Blast)
TesseracT, Altered State (Century Media)
Anvil, Hope in Hell (The End)
Dew-Scented, Insurgent (Prosthetic)
Blood Ceremony, The Eldritch Dark (Metal Blade)
Leprous, Coal (12th Street)
ASG, Blood Drive (Relapse)
Retox, YPLL (Epitaph)
Sound of Contact, Dimensionaut (12th Street)
Age of Taurus, Desperate Souls of Tortured Times (Metal Blade)
Pasadena Napalm Division, Pasadena Napalm Division (Minus Head)
OneHundredThousand, A World Divided EP (N/A)
Next Week: We start off June with a new album from one of the Big 4, the return of a giant in American modern rock, and much more. Come on back to get the full scoop next time!