By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)
Artist: Alice In Chains
Album: Rainier Fog
Release Date: 8/24/18
Since returning from the dead in 2009, Alternative Metal/Grunge icons Alice In Chains have given us a renaissance worthy of our attention. After dealing with the worst possible tragedy any band could ever endure, they have not only survived, but persevere in a manner few have dared. Thus, their latest release, Rainier Fog, pays homage to the past while charging forward with the band’s history.
After nearly 30 years, Alice In Chains have aged like the finest of wines. They’re just as sharp, haunting and biting as ever. Several tracks from Rainier Fog are solid proof of this. While the band may not be trending into any new territory stylistically, they prove they do not need to, sounding vital and fresh on their first new offering in five long years.
Rainier Fog opens with the stomping lead single, “The One You Know.” The down beat-heavy riff literally stomps with hypnotic crunch until the soaring melody of the chorus briefly pulls it up from the mud, only to throw it right back down on its face! The gorgeously melancholy title track features the signature Jerry Cantrell/William DuVall harmonies that send shivers through the spine, while standout track “Red Giant” provides massive ominous riffs that bridge the gap between Gothic atmosphere and filthy Sludge metal. The soaring “Fly” is briefly reminiscent of Facelift, while “Drone” provides a Sabbath-esque Blues groove that gets blood pumping.
Side Two showcases the more somber and introverted aspects of the band’s songwriting, with a deeply personal touch that is irrefutable. The melodic “Deaf Ears Blind Eyes” and “Maybe” really drive this home, reminding listeners that Alice In Chains was always much more than a chugging heavy rock band, but a deep complex beast that has influenced a generation of groove-heavy fuzz-wielding musicians.
From there, “So Far Under” features slamming riffs and sharp lyrics courtesy of DuVall, who sounds as comfortable as ever throughout this record. The album concludes with “Never Fade,” a touching tribute to fallen frontman Layne Staley and the recently departed Chris Cornell, before closing with the confessional “All I Am,” a track with heartbreak seeping through every note.
While Rainier Fog has its share of darkness, there is always the running notion of four individuals seeing the beauty in despair, with hints of optimism and a strong sense of survival felt throughout the record. And Alice In Chains are the very embodiment of survival, coming through the other side of the tunnel wiser, yet not without some scars.
All in all, Rainier Fog is a record the will please long time fans, and hopefully convert any straggling non-believers still skeptical of an Alice In Chains without Layne Staley. Tracks like “The One You Know,” “Red Giant” and “So Far Under” certainly bring the heavy. However, standouts such as “Maybe” and “Never Fade” showcase the wit and sensitivity of one of Rock’s most enduring acts. A must-have for fans young and old!