Last updateMon, 29 Apr 2019 1pm


Alice and Chains Are Lost in a Fog

Alice and ChainsGrunge pioneers Alice In Chains released their first album in five years, Rainier Fog, on Aug. 24.

When AIC announced the arrival of a new record earlier this year, fans and critics had divided expectations.

Many fans I spoke with were excited to have a new record following a five-year silence; but there was also a strong amount of those who felt apathetic and even angry.

Following lead singer Layne Staley’s death in 2002, it seemed the band would be over forever.

However, in 2006, William Duvall succeeded Staley on lead vocals and rhythm guitar.

Duvall’s vocal style sounded like Staley’s iconic drone of a voice and many noticed.

12 years after joining AIC, Duvall captured the acclaim of critics, including Staley’s father, Phil.

Aside from Duvall, the original lineup of Jerry Cantrell on guitar, Sean Kenney on drums, and Mike Inez on bass play on their latest album.

Cantrell is a guitarist who deserves a lot more credit.

Although a rock star, he was raised on country music and was even president of his high school choir.

In Fog, his chord progressions, raw emotive notes and licks show his country music roots.

The harmonies learned in choir have found their place within Cantrell’s songwriting.

Cantrell is credited with finding the “Alice sound” after toying around with his guitar and pedalboard for their first big single in 1990, “Man in the Box.”

Although Rainer Fog is a dud, Cantrell’s playing is top notch.

It must be difficult to fill the shoes of a legend, especially if that legend is a vocalist.

Guitarists and drummers are in the background, and won’t be such a noticeable change, but not singers.

Fans will nitpick the singer’s voice, trying to hear the emulation of their hero, but often, their hopes fall short.

I believe Alice should have retired after their voice passed away out of respect for Layne.

Still, the band plays on.

The first single released and first track on Fog, “The One You Know,” surprised me with a classic tone reminiscent of their masterpiece album, Dirt.

The harmonies were incredible, and the lyrics captured Staley’s dread and desperation.

However, that was the pinnacle of the album.

The remainder of Fog was a monotonous and sloppy fifty-minutes.

Songs such as “Drones,” “Red Giant,” and “Maybe” are forgettable.

“So Far Under” had the potential to be a fan favorite, but was skewered by trite production and lame repetition.

It sounded as if Alice was trying to recreate Dirt, nevertheless it doesn’t sound genuine.

A pivotal aspect to Alice’s success since the early 1990’s was Staley’s heartfelt poetry surrounding addiction, depression, and rejection, along with his even more chilling delivery.

Albums since his passing try desperately to recreate the sorrow and sincerity of Staley. 

Unfortunately, Staley’s touch is lost in the Fog.

As a longtime fan of AIC, I found myself in the excited half of the fan base leading up to Rainer Fog.

Yet, after a few close listens to the entire 55 minutes, I’m not impressed.

 Artists should relish their time in the spotlight and let their legacy remain untainted as opposed to becoming a fragment of what they once were.

Replacing a central figure is a universally unpopular decision that results in a loss of fans. As for me, I’ll stick to the old Alice In Chains.

PHOTO TAKEN from Rock ‘N Roll Insight

Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151