Review: New Alice In Chains Album Rainier Fog Is A Double-Edged Sword

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Alternative rock and grunge legends Alice in Chains have returned with their sixth studio album, Rainier Fog. The album serves as the band’s third release to feature William DuVall on vocals along with Jerry Cantrell following the 2002 death of legendary frontman Layne Staley. Rainier Fog comes five years after 2013’s The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here.

Rainier Fog is a great example of a band who know their strengths- and most of the time- can play to them very, very well. If by now you haven’t jumped upon the Alice in Chains train, there’s not much they can do to convert you. Wicked, haunting vocal harmonies, great dual vocal interplay and fantastic guitar work aside, if that’s not your cup of tea, it just isn’t. And that’s fine.

At this point, Alice in Chains are who they are. Rainier Fog is a double-edged sword in that way. The band has no shortage of hits throughout their fantastic career. From back in the heyday of 90’s grunge, they’ve always been counted upon to serve up solid, anthemic alternative rock songs that at times dabble in the metal and folk world simultaneously. And with that notion in mind, Rainier Fog does just that. They’re not going to go electro-pop all of a sudden! They’re not going to bow to modern day views on what mainstream music looks and sounds like. And for that we love Alice in Chains. But we love them because we’ve always loved them. And for what they’ve so consistently provided us with.

When listening to Rainier Fog, a couple of things are strikingly apparent. The first is that the album is a consistent listen of solid, anthemic alternative rock songs that at times dabble in the metal and folk words simultaneously (see what I did there?). And with that comes an album whose highs never go too high and whose lows never go all that low. And that is great. The only downside to that is there isn’t a “Man in the Box” or “Them Bones” here. And I know. We’re dealing with Alice in Chains 2.0 here. But even so, there isn’t a “Check My Brain” or a “Stone” here, either. Again though, it’s the consistency factor.

Rainier Fog moves along at a far more consistent clip than The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. So, even though that album had the huge hit single, there was a certain lack of focus and a tendency for songs to go on for a minute or so too long throughout. By comparison, Rainier Fog is leaner, tighter, more focused and most of all, because of all of this, a much stronger album. Bands do’t always age like this. I can name a few “shells of their former selves” but I’ll spare them the indictment. Rather, Alice in Chains deserve to be commended for their mastery of their craft and their passion to not water down their discography with subsequent releases- but to enrich it. And that my friends, that deserves high praise. Let’s take a look song by song of their solid new album, Rainier Fog.

  1. The One You Know

The first taste we got of Rainier Fog, “The One You Know” sets the bar high for the new album. Disjointed guitar riffs and some nice snare work send us off to the races. The off time riffs and maniacal vocal attack are classic Alice in Chains. Going from Jerry Cantrell alone to the blistering vocals of William DuVall works to great effect to build the m