Alice In Chains – Rainer Fog

Alice In Chains
Rainer Fog
Grunge, Alternative Metal, Stoner Rock
Released: 24 August 2018
via BMG Records

The grunge rock icons, Alice In Chains return with their sixth studio album, Rainer Fog. They’ve always been one of those bands for me that I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with. I think they’ve had some amazing songs over the years and their influence is certainly felt across the world of rock music. Yet, I don’t think I’ve ever really enjoyed a full album from them, I like a few songs but never a full record. So, when I got the chance to check out their new album, I was curious to have a listen. This album is the third album with William DuVall as lead vocalist sharing vocals duties with Jerry Cantrell, and the first Alice in Chains album in 22 years to be recorded in their hometown of Seattle. The album’s title was inspired by Mount Rainier, a volcano that overlooks the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area.

Straight away the grunge tone takes over with sharp heavy blasts of the guitar as the opening tune “The One You Know”. The riffs are heavy and have that chugging tone. A lot of bass and the drum hits come through sharp. From a production standpoint, they sound excellent with a great balance and a clear tone. I will say they have a lot of strong hooks that keep you listening. There are moments of the album that just get stuck in your head. Also, the weird vocal effect is so strange to my ears it gets lodged in my brain. The dueling vocals between DuVall and Cantrell creates some very nice moments of harmony. Even the weirder moments from a musical perspective are save by the harmony. Like on the track “Fly”. A song that sounds like it was cut and pasted straight from the nineties.

Musically, Rainer Fog has some particularly strong tunes. The title track is great as it has that old-school Seattle grunge feel injected into it. Also, I really like “So Far Under” with it’s Sabbath-esk riff and bass tone that hits you right in the gut. However, I can’t stand up for the whole thing. A lot of the album feels like filler from previous Alice In Chains albums and it might as well be white noise to me. It has interesting ideas but for the most part it does nothing super interesting with them. It sounds fine and if you’re in to Alice In Chains you’re probably used to the hit and miss songwriting. For me though, there are just long stretches of the album that either don’t pack enough punch like on “Red Giant” or feels like it’s there to just take up space on the album such as “Drones”.

Yet again, Alice In Chains just makes an okay album. Nothing bad just nothing that really gets me going. It’s produced well but lacks a lot of imagination and feels like a band that’s just stuck, spinning their wheels. There are some great songs here and ones I really liked, with strong riffs and hooks. Others, where just long windy tunes that didn’t go anywhere. If you’re really into Alice In Chains and the Seattle scene then… well, you’ve probably already got it.

2.5/5

Mick Birchall

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