Alice in Chains next record is one of the most anticipated rock releases of 2012, guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell recently spoke about where they're at in the process.

Alice in Chains were able to release an album after the death of vocalist Layne Staley and a near 14-year hiatus and, against all odds, re-emerge as one of the best hard rock bands in the game. With new vocalist/guitarist William DuVall on board, the release of 'Black Gives Way to Blue' garnered AIC critical acclaim, two Grammy nods, and renewed interest in the long dormant band.

After extensive touring behind the album the band took some time off and quietly re-entered the studio to work on new material in 2011. Last we reported there were few details made available on the band's upcoming fifth (second without Staley) full-length album, but Jerry Cantrell recently gave some insight on the project's status to Rolling Stone at Dimebash -- saying their downtime was slightly extended by health issues:

"We started writing last year. I had shoulder surgery. I had to get some bone spurs and torn cartilage taken care of, so that put me back a little bit. But we’ve been writing through the whole process."

It is expected that Alice in Chains will enter the studio to continue work on the record later this year. Perhaps the fact that the conversation took place at an event honoring late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell inspired Cantrell to talk about the fragility of life and how the band still honors the memory of their fallen vocalist Layne Staley:

"Layne’s mother’s been doing a show for Layne every year, and we give to that. It’s good to remember your people. Life is very temporary, and we will be joining them shortly. Hopefully it’s not too soon, but it’s good. It’s some amazing people that should be remembered."