Rainier Fog

Alice In Chains

AIC Entertainment/BMG, 2018


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


As difficult as this is to believe, the version of Alice in Chains without Layne Staley has now made as many full-length albums (three) as the original band.

Black Gives Way To Blue was a curiosity that also turned out to be a pretty good album, one that didn’t tarnish the band’s grunge legacy and fit in well with the modern rock landscape. The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, however, was a retrograde failure, all plodding power chords from a band that sounded like they were trying to be an AIC cover band without the humor, emotion or soul. Rainier Fog, the third platter with William DuVall as lead singer, is fortunately a lot closer to my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 BGWTB, if still quite a ways off from Dirt.

Longtime fans will appreciate how well the core musical trio plays after 30 years, and DuVall has long since made his case as an admirable replacement for Staley. It doesn’t feel right to call it Alice in Chains, still, at least for me; it feels like checking in an old friend who divorced his first wife (that you also were friends with) and got remarried 15 years ago. He’s happy, but it’s not what you remember.

Tortured metaphors aside, the point is that this is sonically in the same ballpark as every Alice In Chains album, although with a little less anguish than you’re used to. The power chords churn and chomp (opener “The One You Know” is solid) and the vocal harmonies are still in place. Better still, there’s some variety again in “Never Fade” and “Maybe,” while “So Far Under” is a strong outing that will probably do well on rock radio, if it’s not already there. I gave up on rock radio a while ago, so someone will have to inform me. “Fly” also brings a twin acoustic/electric guitar punch and a brief but righteous guitar solo.

The thing about Rainier Fog is that’s it’s a little too comfortable. The band has its sound and really doesn’t stray from it, so you won’t find any experimentation here or truly knockout killer songs. You won’t find tunes that drone on for far longer than they should (except “Drone,” and I’m not joking about that title), or that bludgeon mediocre riffs to death… nor will you find songs that you’ll be itching to revisit the next day, or later that night, with the exception of “The One You Know.” And it should be commended that in a sea of hard rock riffs littering the radio, Jerry Cantrell is the rare breed who understand the value of melody and brings it to every song.

So grab your coat and head into the fog to visit an old friend. It won’t revitalize you like “Would?” still does, but Rainier Fog retains a power and sonic approach worthy of the Alice in Chains name.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2018 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of AIC Entertainment/BMG, and is used for informational purposes only.