What’s the story with Rainier Fog, is Alice in Chains (AiC) soldering on or have these four wise men, who have banded together like the musketeers brought us something new with Rainier Fog; their sixth studio album to date and their third with singer/songwriter William_DuVall. Rainier Fog gives you lyrics about memories – dark memories, dealing with loss, the suffering of grief, missing loved ones, feelings of hope and paying homage to the people who inspired AiC through hard times. Apparently, Rainier translates to something like ‘’wise army”.
As Kansas sang ‘Carry on wayward son, lay your weary head to rest, don’t you cry no more’… AiC Maybe is their Kansas song, even the introduction echoes the style of ”Carry on my wayward son” and maybe with good purpose too, as a band Alice In Chains had to deal with the loss of both their original singer Layne Staley and bassist Mike Starr to drug overdoses and making the decision to carry on or call it a day. I like earnest stories, and that’s what you get on this album, whilst other bands sing about social media and it affects on society. AiC, are keeping it real, to them, by delving right down to the core of how life’s events have affected them and how the change has made them who they are today.
Vocal duties are shared by both William DuVall and Jerry Cantrell throughout most songs on the album and this makes for some pleasing ear pleasure, with a mix of old skool vocal ‘droning’ AiC style, their mix of heavy metal/grunge and American blues (listen closely) keeps you on your toes.
I can imagine those rabid ‘Alice chicks’ (hardcore fans) getting down and grungy to the title track Rainier Fog, it has everything that a grunge head would like. The track sees this wise army unfold, with reflective lyrics, echoing tales of past ghosts, rising through the Rainier fog. Red Giant is colossal on bass and drums, dark and brooding and the vocals emulate the style of the late Layne Staley, making it another AiC classic sounding corker of a track! With Jerry Cantrell supplying the BIG guitar solos. The effortless Fly has a lighter vibe, which reminded me of Sound Garden’s Black Hole Sun but without the big chorus, it doesn’t lose any of that AiC charm and again Cantrell shows off his impressive guitar prowess that makes him such a huge member of the band.
Drone is a monochrome of a song, somewhere between hazy and hard rock trippy grunge, as is Deaf Ears Blind Eyes, the dual vocals of DuVall and Cantrell work well alongside the sneering guitars and throbbing bass lines, together they create their own Technicolor of sound. Will DuVall wrote the lyrics and plays the guitar solo on So Far Under a song about tough times. Another surprise is Never Fade, a melodic rock number with an upbeat American blues intro brought by Sean Kinney on drums and Mike Inez on bass, the style reminds me of Midnight Moses by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
Closing the album with All I Am, this 7-minute marvel written by Jerry Cantrell, rolls you down a road of evocative psychedelic rock, it vibes like The Eagles Hotel California but is nothing like that song at all, but you get my dreamy drift. Cantrell’s words – Is this all I am, given all I can, Is this all I am, ricochet around your brain, as the drums slowly beat away, the guitars glide, and nail down to an intense climatic end.
Let’s hope it’s not another five years before one of Seattle’s finest bands releases another monster of an album. Shooting straight for the target, they haven’t missed with Rainier Fog. Love or hate them, it looks like they’ll be around for some more years to come.
Click here for Rainier Fog Tracklisting
Alice in Chains are:
Jerry Cantrell – Guitar, Vocals
Sean Kinney – Drums
Mike Inez – Bass
William DuVall – Vocals