REVIEW: ALICE IN CHAINS – “Rainier Fog”
Alice In Chains tread over some familiar territory when they reentered Studio X to record their first album since 2013. Within the same walls that they laid down their self-titled LP, the Grunge icons produced the upcoming ‘Rainier Fog’ in the genres mecca that is Seattle. A record that closes out a five year wait fans have endured for new music as well as marking the bands third installment with vocalist William DuVall. With leading singles “The One You Know” and “So Far Under” making the rounds, ‘Rainier Fog’ has quickly garnered itself much excitement, enthusiasm, and of course a wealth of curiosity.
Working off intermittent guitars and an initially droning pace, the albums greeting card, “The One You Know” seizes the building momentum in its explosive chorus. Capitalised on by guitarist Jerry Cantrell filling out the track with a storming comeback solo. Second single “So Far Under” doesn’t quite match that of its predecessor. Although it embodies the same intense spirit, it gets to the point much quicker, which will please the bands more eager listeners.
Over the course of their career, fans have speculate and debated as to which category the bands music fits into. While the popular opinion cites them as Grunge, many also feel that Alice In Chains incorporate a sometimes subtle, other times heavy element of Doom metal into their music. For those inclined to preach the latter, “Drone” is a prime example of this.
A stagnant, sludge pace coupled with a hint of the progressive, “Drone” sets the dooming tone and doesn’t let up for a second. If a rather tepid number among the track list overall, its unique presence will undoubtedly see it become an album favourite among fans of this particular brand. Though, the true album standout lies just ahead under the title “Never Fade”.
Lyrically, DuVall strikes gold with “Never Fade”, and his vocal delivery lives up to the task of portraying them. Musically, the verses retain the inimitable sneering quality Cantrell, drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Inez have been renowned for since their inception, cementing them as the architects of the style. Finally, when the chorus hits, it is easily the most straightforward one on the record, but unarguably the strongest, exhuming a hope and a hook that is simply infectious.
As the album closes out with the hypnotic sway of “All I Am”, an epic, brooding ballad of sorts, it does so quietly. Trading the big, epic conclusion for a more somber farewell, the band called it right. For not only is “All I Am” a triumph on its own, in context it is the only choice to bring the record to an end.
Whether it was the magic within those four walls or the inspiration drawn from being back in their home town, this is a record with a lot of life in it. Feeling like it could have easily been the direct follow up to the bands ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’, ‘Rainier Fog’ is a real, raw and rueful work that only Alice In Chains could produce.