Alice in Chains is clearly one of the most influential band of the past 20 years. The Devize is a prime example of how AiC's sound still provides inspiration. The six songs on Heaven's Gate follow the AiC template skillfully, with earthbound rhythms, chugging guitars and low, wailing vocals that mingle pain-tinged urgency with resignation in uneasy balance. The spacious grandeur of the title tune and "Bait" do their influences proud, while the slower "Hit the Ground," with its sound-bite intro and distorted vocals, adds some Tool to the mix. A light percussion break on "Preacher" and the choppy, dirty blues edge to "Summers Gone" show the Devize's ability to keep their music from becoming monochromatic.
— Anastasia Pantsios
The Devize play Peabody's (2045 E. 21st St., 216.776.9999, peabodys.com) at 7 p.m. February 6. Tickets: $8.
A side project for the Sidekicks' Matt S., American War are a strange entity. The Sidekicks are a straight-ahead punk band, but American War have little of that going on. Their latest album, Rhetoric, starts with the tropical-sounding title track and then gives way to the twangy "Bricks," which finds Matt. S. singing in a parched voice about the "flag that waves over our dreams." While some tunes here (the anthemic "The Power of a Made Up Mind") could pass as American Idiot-era Green Day, that's a loose reference point. Even if it's not clear how to categorize this band or whether the songs are political in nature, the songwriting and musicianship are generally strong. — Jeff Niesel
American War perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 9, at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588, grogshop.gs). Tickets: $6 advance, $8 day of show.