Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Alice In Chains : "Rainier Fog"

I thought "Black Gives Way to Blue" was an excellent album that upheld the band's legacy, while "the Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" was unfocused and weak, showing possible signs of DuVall overextending his welcome in the studio, where Cantrell had more of an obvious hand in the writing of the first album without Layne. The opener of their newest finds them back closer "Black Gives Way..." with the title track a little more upbeat , but not a miss step , just something that needs to grow on me. Things get heavier on "Red Giant" with a huge crushing dark riff. The vocals slither out of the shadows and it's everything I could want from this band. It's when they get into the acoustic of twang of "Fly" that I begin to get cautious. Not that this is a side of the band that they should avoid it is just the side that has had the most margin for error. The verses are better than the chorus that tries to hard, but the guitar playing and some of the vocal refrains make up for this.

There is a sludgey hint of grunge going into "Drone". Midway into the song there is a more melodic touch and some great guitar playing through out. If they did not preclude the stoner metal trend this would fit neatly in that. "Deaf Ears Blind Eyes" keeps things suitably dark.  Think darker tone of this album is what places it more solidly behind "Black Gives Way..." The melodies are more minor , which is really the only thing that works for these guys. When they open "Maybe" with Eagles like harmonies it's also concerning. But it's clearly written well enough to pull it off. It might not hold my attention as well, but it's well done. "So Far Under" is another sludge tinged rock song that doesn't what you expect from these guys but almost obligingly so. The pace picks up for "Never Fade". The hook in the chorus is more memorable than that of the previous song. As it progresses its more straight up rock n roll.

The album closes with "All I Am " which is a ballad in the spirit of "Down In a Hole". Not so say it revisits that place, it just possesses a similar smooth dark dreamy quality. Things build on the chorus with it feeling like all the lighters should be pulled out for a power ballad. I'll give this album a 9, as it stands up against "Black Gives Way..." perhaps not always shoulder to shoulder with the Layne albums, unless with are talking about the self titled one. It might be better than that one. Much Like "Black Gives Way" it's hard to tell where Cantrell's vocals begin and DuVall's end, so DuVall works better as a tribute singer than showing too much of his own personality in these songs. I am glad that they have taken a turn back to a darker direction.

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