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ALICE IN CHAINS’ NEXT BIG CHALLENGE: FOLLOWING-UP THEIR COMEBACK

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Alice in Chains’ 2009 comeback album, Black Gives Way to Blue, was a huge risk — replacing a band member as important as Layne Staley is never easy, let alone replacing a band member who was so important and who passed away. But the band pulled it off with flying colors (or, at least, flying blacks and blues). BGWTB‘s awesomeness has nothing to do with sentimentality; it’s still a killer listen more than two years after its release.

But now guitarist Jerry Cantrell tells Rolling Stone that the band started writing their next album in 2011, and will be entering the studio sometime very soon. And having previously succeeded at such a monumental challenge means that the band is now faced with another, possibly even greater challenge: following-up the comeback.

Before, the band had to prove that they could still make a great Alice in Chains record even without Staley’s often-imitated-but-never-duplicated vocals… but now that they’ve done that, expectations amongst their fans could be higher than ever. Just speaking personally, I know that I was initially wary of Blue, and relieved when the band pulled it off so artfully; but now I’m ACTIVELY EXCITED about a new AiC album, and in a strange way, that puts the band at an even bigger disadvantage, because my hopes are up.

And even though I think that Blue was so good that ultimately Alice didn’t need any goodwill to get people behind it, that goodwill isn’t going to exist this time. By which I mean, no one can say, “Oh, cut them some slack, Layne was irreplaceable but they’re doing the best they can” — I mean, hell, by now there are probably kids who ONLY know William DuVall as the lead singer of AiC (bizarre thought, but not improbable).

I guess what I’m getting at is this: whatever Alice in Chains makes next, it needs to be at least as good as, if not better than, Black Gives Way to Blue. Normally I’d be a little worried about such a predicament, but the band basically bitch-slapped my neurosis with their last outing, so for now, I am going to be highly optimistic about their chances.

-AR

[via Metal Injection]

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