JP Wood, A&E Writer
Alice In Chains’ Rainier Fog is their long awaited sixth studio album, and the follow up to 2013’s The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. Released just three days after what would’ve been original vocalist Layne Staley’s 51st birthday, it is their third album with replacement co-vocalist William Duvall. Rainier Fog delivers more of the Duvall-era Alice in Chains sound that we’ve come to expect, while retaining the vintage Alice In Chains sound that they’ve had since their heyday in the early 90s. I had to listen to this album through a few times to really get a read on it, mostly because a large chunk of the album is insignificant filler.
It opens strong, with lead single The One You Know and it’s absolutely nasty, grungy, sludgy opening riff and some really great vocal harmonies between Duvall and Jerry Cantrell in the chorus. This track is Alice in Chains at their best. The title track, Rainier Fog is up next. AiC’s tribute to the Seattle grunge scene is fast paced and has an infectiously catchy verse. Red Giant is track number 3 and rounds out the album’s strong start. One of the better songs on the album, Red Giant features great vocals, lyrics and guitar.
From there, the album really takes a dip in memorable songs. It does have its moments through the middle though. Fly and Drone is more vintage AiC and will appeal to the more hardcore fans but the tracks really start to run together here. However, the album provides a nice, strong 3 track close-out starting with what may be the best song on the album, So Far Under. This song is heavy, grungy, and has an insanely memorable chorus. Never Fade follows, and is William Duvall’s tribute to Chris Cornell, Layne Staley, and his own grandmother. Never Fade is one of the more up-tempo songs on the album. Cantrell and Duvall trade vocalist duties and the song turns out as one of the few really stand out moments of the album. All I Am closes the album with a slow, 7 minute showcase of strong songwriting, guitar and vocals that does it’s job as an album closer and nothing more.
Overall, Alice In Chains did a great job at releasing a grunge album in a year where grunge is essentially long gone. AiC and grunge fans overall will like this album, because it certainly isn’t bad. Those first 3 tracks, as well as Never Fade, and So Far Under really bring something great to the overall Alice In Chains catalog. But as a whole, Rainier Fog is way too chained down by forgettable filler.