Alice In Chains deliver a crisp sounding record, complete with some of the best writing of their career. After many career twists and turns, against all odds, the Seattle natives prove to be one of the most resilient and creative groups of the late 2010’s.
There’s a lot to be said about the destructive potential of expectation. Especially when the expectation is thrust on bands that have already established their legacy decades ago. The heartbreaking truth is that many of the new releases by bands that have acquired legendary status, have a similar problem. The new records sound generic.
While it’s nothing intrinsically bad with hearing the same set of songs by your favorite band on each new album, even the most devoted fans find themselves wanting to be surprised once in a while. It’s even worse when these groups target sentimentality and deliver, more or less, what they approximate their fan base wants to hear. Simply put, it’s a cheap shot.
This long prelude is to serve one function. To announce that the new Alice In Chains album does nothing of the sort. It’s a strong album, well worth rock listeners’ time.
While the sound, lyrical themes and general mood are representative of the sound of the group on their previous releases, the songs themselves rarely feel trivial and band’s energy isn’t contrived.
In short, on new album Rainier Fog, Alice in Chains deliver a 10 song set that feels punchy, galvanized and recommends them as one of the best modern rock bands. We should dwell on the word modern for a moment. With the new collection of songs, 40 years into their career, the group offers a contemporary sounding record, that sacrifices nothing of the group’s trademark sound. If anything it elevates it.
Jerry Cantrell’s guitar riffs and soloing benefit from the bright, clean production. The harmony singing between Cantrell and William DuVall is spotless and in many ways is the highlight of the entire piece. The songwriting is exciting. The songs shift effortlessly between a barbarous, heavy sound, and the silvery, harmonic portions that would not be out of place on a classic Crosby, Stills and Nash record.
The one you know is the album’s leading single and showpiece of the entire record. The song displays Cantrell’s familiar punishing riffing in the verse section, which leads into the lovely, shared vocals of the chorus. The lyrics are rousing, seemingly touching referencing the public’s expectations for the band.
Red Giant makes great use of Sabbath inspired detuned guitar lines and a strong melody that, as you might expect, builds into a climatic chorus.
DuVall takes center stage on Never Fade, a song that has all the elements of a modern rock radio hit. But there’s little phony about Alice In Chains as they experiement with the newer writing and productuion techniques.
So far under is reminiscent of Dirt era Alice In Chains. The vocal lines act to sweeten the dirty riffs of the verse section, with the bridge calming the waters before the pulverizing chorus. While the song could easily have been written on any of the band’s albums from the 1990’s, the new creative energy of the group spares them from sounding contrived.
While it’s somewhat of a cliche, yes, this is one of the best Alice In Chains albums since the 1990’s. In fact, it is one of their greatest career achievements. This is a considerable accomplishment, with the Seattle band’s formidable legacy easily allowing them to coast on past success alone.The band has not disappointed on any of the three albums from band’s new era. This is most likely their best.
It’s also refreshing to see that DuVall has managed to find his role in the band quickly. While his vocal skills allow him to sing Layne Staley songs , DuVall is not out to imitate.
Legacy and future plans
Alice In Chains sound comfortable in the own skins. A good three album run has meant that questions about the band’s past are much fewer then they were when the new version of the group started.
Their consistency will make fans excited. Not only are they to get live shows that will include old favorites, the band will also be committed to delivering strong, new material.
Alice In Chains deliver a surprisingly strong album. The band finds a mix between their ace tricks and exploration. A strong collection of songs, Rainier Fog shines through especially when compared to Alice In Chains’ 2018 contemporaries. It’s the testament of a strong rock band, averting the curse of generic songs and too well-trodden paths.