Album Review: Alice In Chains – “Rainier Fog”
When Rainier Fog’s first track The One You Know starts, it initially sounds like quite a departure for Alice In Chains, but once Sean Kinney’s drumming starts, the band’s distinctive sound is unmistakable. This sets the tone for the whole album; the band celebrating their past, while exploring new territory.
Recorded in Studio X in Seattle, it’s the first Alice In Chains album recorded in Seattle since 1995, even the title is a tribute to the Seattle weather. Returning to their home city appears to have helped the band to recapture the sound of Dirt and their self titled 1995 album, certainly songs such as Red Giant and Fly would have comfortably fit onto them. Drone, with it’s heavy bass driven riff, sounds like a companion song to Junkhead.
However, Rainier Fog also sees the band broaden their sound as well. Songs such as Maybe mix acoustic and electric guitars, without venturing into ballad territory, thanks in part to Sean Kinney’s marching band drums driving the song. Never Fade written by Cantrell and DuVall also sees the band trying a new approach, it’s punk rock riff during the verses giving way to a huge chorus, in which the band are perhaps making a declaration that they themselves will never fade away.
The stand out track is So Far Under, written solely by William DuVall. It’s another departure for the band, with it’s lead riff sounding a little like it was written by Metallica, but when the chorus kicks in, it’s still clearly Alice In Chains, and lyrically the song is about facing seemingly unbeatable odds, and being really pissed off about it. While DuVall only has two writing credits on the album, both take the band into new territories, and will hopefully see the band continue to broaden their sound.
It takes a while for some of the songs to sink in, but after a few listens they are firmly stuck in your head. However, the title track is immediately catchy, and will be a live favourite for sure. It’s an uptempo track that will work well played next to something like Check My Brain from 2009’s Black Gives Way To Blue.
Throughout, the performances by the whole band are incredibly strong, with the dual Jerry Cantrell and William DuVall vocals working incredibly well together. It’s often difficult to know when Cantrell’s voice ends and DuVall’s starts.
The final song All I Am is heartfelt, pouring with emotion and power, that bears some similarities to Down In A Hole from Dirt. It’s a satisfying ending to a solid record, with a lot of variety, that takes the listener through a real journey.
Rainier Fog will certainly please fans hoping to see the band return to their 90s roots, however the album does tread new ground and doesn’t sound like they are rehashing former glories. The songwriting and performances throughout are consistently good, making this the strongest album by this Alice In Chains line up so far.