Alice In Chains' sixth album takes it back to the origins, to the place where it all began, and also to the place where a period ended, "Rainier Fog" was released on August 24, 2018 !!
With 15 years of alcohol and drugs rehabs in his history book, Jerry Cantrell and his bandmates decided to return to the origins, to where the grunge scene took place, the birthplace, and the growth of the big grunge bands.
The recordings of the album were set by Alice's members at the famous "Studio X" in Seattle, where the band's last album with Layne was recorded in 1995 and bears the band's name. At this age (54) Jerry recounted: "You are no longer concerned about record companies, schedules, marketing, and distribution, you just come and do the work” (by the way, they financed their previous album “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” themselves). The band members came to this album with a "blank page", with no prior preparations or solid ideas. They decided to start the writing process in this studio to get inspired.
Following the development of William DuVall in the band, which is very reminiscent of the development of Layne, DuVall gets more space and participates in the writing of the lyrics and music. Jerry said that in most cases, especially on recent albums, that was the challenging part for him. He could not write again about his father, write again about his brother or the girlfriend he broke up with, and the days of addiction and hard times were over. It is not difficult to look for topics that are insane, exciting, or touching, but nonetheless, it was very challenging for him. Here DuVall came to the rescue, and beyond the more significant presence in vocals, he was also expressed in writing.
The album was mostly recorded in "Studio X", but additional recordings took place in five more studios. One of the studios was Jerry's house and here comes the connection to the MTV Unplugged show. We told you in the review of the Unplugged show that Jerry almost did not come up to perform. That day he ate a rotten sausage and suffered from severe food poisoning that almost completely shut him down. So here the story repeats itself... During the recordings for the album, Jerry had to take a break to attend the birthday party of Sammy Hagar (Van Helen) which took place in Mexico. Apparently, during the party, he ate something bad and caught severe food poisoning that shut him down for six weeks. Since he did not want to delay the release of the album, he decided to continue the recordings, he invited the recording technician Paul Figueroa to his house and continued from there.
We talked about how this album is a return to the origins and especially to the city where it all started. Apart from the studio where the album was recorded, the band held another tribute with the name of the album and the theme song. The name of the album is a tribute to the volcano "Mount Rainier" that dominates the entire Seattle-Tacoma area. On the cover of the album, you can see a triangle of a kind of mountain with the "Eye of God" in the center with a fog around it watching over everyone.
The album opens with the song "The One You Know" which leads it to a heavy, strong, and endless riff.
The song released as the first single from the album is inspired by the death of David Bowie. Jerry said the song is not at all reminiscent of Bowie's "Fame" song but it is the one who planted the inspiration for writing the song.
The second song on the album that bears the name of the album is a tribute to the grunge scene from which this amazing band came out. The tribute is to everything that happened in that scene, where they came from, what shaped them, all the victories, and all the losses. Jerry and the rest of the band buried many friends from that time and he said it was hard for him to talk all the time about the friends he had lost and the grief.
The next song "Red Giant" is very reminiscent of the band's first songs with the heavy riff and the quiet dynamics and the creeping rhythm. Some say that this album in general sounds like a return to the style of the band's first albums in terms of sound, riffs, and melody.
(Photo: Johnny Buzzerio)
The fourth song on the album is "Fly" which is really reminiscent of the band's previous songs but there is a short and breathtaking solo section !!
The song "Drone" features guitarist Chris DeGarmo who was in the band "Queensrÿche", also originally from Seattle. Jerry told (and we do not know if to believe him) that he had a hard time with the parts of the acoustic guitar so he turned to his good friend Chris who happened to be around at the time.
Let's jump to the song "So Far Under" which is all (lyrics and music) written by DuVall, he even plays the guitar solo in the song. There is an interpretation that says that the text of the song reflects the wars and difficult struggles that DuVall experienced in front of the band's fans when he came to fill Layne's place.
If we ttalkabout the tribute of this album to the grunge scene in all sorts of aspects then the next song on the album "Never Fade" is a song written by Jerry (music) and DuVall (lyrics). The music was there but Jerry did not find suitable lyrics, One day DuVall was in the studio alone until late and began writing the song. He said he was inspired by the death of his grandmother and the death of Chris Cornell. The song is a tribute to all the friends from Seattle who passed away, friends who will never forget.
The album ends with the song "All I Am", Hard Rock's seven long minutes which according to Jerry reflect the scars a warrior carries on him after all the hard struggles he went through over the years, the scars that shaped his character, and reflect what he is.
An interesting ending with introspection!
The album reached number 12 on the Billboard 200, a huge success for a band that did have a huge reputation but did not release an album for five years. The band was also surprised by the success of the album in Europe, where it took the top five places in the various charts in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, and more. The album also earned the band a Grammy nomination in the Best Rock Album category that year.