In the still unraveling aftermath of the early-'90s alternative metal explosion, one thing has become increasingly clear -- the stylistic chasm left behind by Alice in Chains has yet to be filled. Think of it in these terms: if Alice in Chains held stock in a company called "sheer influence," one could rest assured that the band would never go hungry again. Indeed, competition for the band's throne continues to be a heated battle. With a handful of late-'90s active rock bands like Godsmack (who went as far as to name themselves after an Alice in Chains song!) and Days of the New (a shameless reinterpretation of their acoustic facet) ducking it out for respect, it's been almost easy for a mundane act like Creed (who sound like a cross-pollination of an anemic version of Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, and Alice in Chains all rolled into one) to reach stateside dominance by filling in the blanks. Hence, it seems fair at this point that a band like Memphis' Dust for Life (Creed's labelmates on Wind-up, ironically enough) would now get a shot at the coveted crown. And much like Verbena's Nirvana karaoke act on Into the Pink, the members of Dust for Life do a competent job of emulating their heroes on their self-titled debut. For example, take a song like "Step Into the Light." The cut manages to nick its main riff directly off Alice in Chains' "Dam That River" (from Dirt) before revisiting any number of Jerry Cantrell guitar riffs during its remaining three minutes or so. The surprising part is that it really isn't half-bad. Moving along, there is the quite memorable "Lifelike," whose intro is a direct rip-off of "Bleed the Freak," but then takes a Black Sabbath direction replete with "spooky" lyrics of the "on dark wings you'll come to me" variety. If "I Don't Mind" veers into heavy Stone Temple Pilots territory, it manages to save itself with a simple, yet effective, chorus. And just when you thought it was all over, the band leans toward heavy acoustic with the Southern rock strains of "Shadow Pool" and the flat-picking tour de force "The End," which sound exactly like -- you guessed it -- Days of the New. A completely derivative debut, but one that is decently conceived and solidly executed nonetheless.
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AllMusic Review by John Franck