"Rainier Fog" is quite possibly the most “Alice in Chains”- sounding record they have released since Re-grouping with co-lead singer William DuVall. Upon first listen, you may not agree, but once the layers of each song have had a chance to be discovered after a few listens, elements of previous songs throughout their career, including the “Layne era” will begin to present themselves. This effort very much feels like a band who is becoming comfortable enough in their new skin, to embrace old habits.
Cantrell and co. have found a way to continue to evolve the AIC sound, while harkening back to expressing dark, complicated moods that appeared on their first three albums. Most importantly, at no point throughout "Rainier Fog" does any track sound like it’s mimicking any existing AIC songs. This is by no means a band trying to recapture what once was. Instead, it’s a band continuing to grow while not being afraid to use the tools they helped create in their heyday.
While songs like the first single “The One You Know” and title track “Ranier Fog” sound like a continuation of the direction both “Black Gives Way to Blue” and “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” established, a few tracks stick out as something just a bit different.
“Drone” is a standout track that jumps right into a classic feeling off-beat sludge-drenched rhythm accompanied by haunting harmonies, and is almost reminiscent of the slower parts of “Sickman”. While elements of the song are reminiscent to the mood/feel that the aforementioned song conveys, by no means is “Drone” a copy of the track or others like it.
Similarly, “Fly” gifts the albums that classic acoustic feel that stuck out chiefly on the 1992 release "Sap", and their self-titled album. While they have always really sprinkled that sound into their albums throughout their career, and have continued to do so in their recent efforts, something about “Fly” feels more old school than anything from their last two albums like “Your Decision”, or “Voices”.
As a whole, the album is incredibly diverse, yet it feels more cohesive than their last effort, 2013's "The Devil Put Dinosaurs" here. Make no mistake, though the songs previously mentioned contain slow/sludgy beats, as well as acoustic instruments, there are a lot of hard-hitting songs on here the AIC fans will eat up. The boys have by no means lost their ability to hit heavily.
Not a fan of post-Layne Staley Alice in Chains releases so far? Then this is not the album for you. The band did not magically capture the sound they had during his time with the band. That era is over, and they have managed to move on. The last three albums including Ranier Fog contain a lot of lyrical content about the healing process, and the importance of moving on while never forgetting your roots – something stubborn fans of old should pay attention to. “Never Fade” is a track about the very subject, making promises to the spirits of loved ones that they will never be forgotten, and in fact will be embraced.
"Rainier Fog" marks Alice in Chains’ sixth full-length studio release, and is William DuVall’s third effort with the band since joining in 2009.
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Alice In Chains - The One You Know (Official Video)