The evolution of Alice In Chains continues…….
In the last 20+ years, it’s been fair to say that Alice In Chains have been through some trials and tribulations.
The loss of founding member and bassist, Mike Starr, and that of iconic lead singer, Layne Staley, plus the great expectations of putting the band back together with a different vocalist, would make many bands throw in the towel.
Not Alice In Chains though. And that shows with the release of their brand new album, Rainier Fog.
Album opener is the lead single release, Not The One You Know. A slow, heavy guitar opening before the vocal duties of Jerry Cantrell and William DuVall kick in with the usual distinguished style that has remained with the band, not only throughout the Layne Staley era, but with the last two previous albums made with DuVall as well. Second track is the title track, Rainier Fog. And for anyone who doesn’t think that title tracks have much emphasis on an album, they had better listen to this. A great rock song which brings out the best in Cantrell, DuVall, bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney, yet keeps it familiar with the AIC listening public.
Red Giant is the third track in, and keeps the heavy tempo running. With Kinney and his hard hitting drumming style practically the focal point in the song before the guitars give it that extra musical boost. Fourth song is Fly. A more subtle number this time, but not in the category of rock ballard either. The mix of electric and acoustic guitars is very pleasing to the ear, and will surely be a single release soon.
Halfway song of the album is, Drone. A real dirty sounding rock song which, and I will be so bold to say this, would’ve fitted in nicely on the Dirt album in 1992, it just has that feel about it. Deaf Ears Blind Eyes is the sixth offering and switches back to a more subtle approach, but keeping the heavy sound in check whenever necessary.
No maybe about track 7, which is, Maybe. This one carries on from Deaf Ears Blind Eyes, with Cantrell proclaiming, “I’d be lyin’ if I said it felt right….”. But this song, and the album so far, certainly does feel right. Track 8 is, So Far Under. And, for me anyway, the stand out song of the album. It’s the most Alice In Chains song that Alice In Chains have done in many a year, and is a testament to William DuVall and his songwriting ability, which is often ignored.
Penultimate song on Rainier Fog is, Never Fade. A pounding drum beat from Kinney begins the song in earnest before Inez leads the way with a dominant bass line, which allows Cantrell and DuVall to run loose on the guitar sounds. The album finishes with, All I Am. A classic sounding end of the album song, a slow and melodic number, a style that has been part of the Alice In Chains musical DNA for years, and rounds off the album nicely.
There will still be critics of the newer sound of this band, but as rock music continues to evolve, bands like Alice In Chains evolve with it and that’s why they are still one of the most important bands around. An absolute powerhouse of an album.
Rainier Fog is out now on the BMG Records label