Rainier Fog is the sixth studio album by the American rock band Alice in Chains, released on August 24, 2018, through BMG, the band's first release on the label. The title was inspired by Mount Rainier, a volcano that overlooks the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area, and the title track is a tribute to the Seattle music scene. This is the band's 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 was partially recorded at Seattle's Studio X (formerly Bad Animals Studios), the same studio where the band recorded their 1995 self-titled album. Rainier Fog is also Alice in Chains' third collaboration with producer Nick Raskulinecz.
The tracks "The One You Know", "So Far Under" and "Never Fade" were released as singles to promote the album.
Background and recording
In August 2015, bassist Mike Inez said in an interview that Alice in Chains had been "throwing around riffs for a new record" and "taking it nice and slow." Asked if the band had been recording any new material during an interview with Detroit radio station WRIF in June 2016, vocalist William DuVall stated that was still early and the band would probably talk about that over the next few months, after they finished touring with Guns N' Roses. DuVall also talked about Alice in Chains' songwriting process and how it has evolved over the years: "We make a habit of kind of starting pretty much with a clean slate every time we've gone in. And that challenges you, so we'll have to see how it manifests this time. But we're not there yet."
In January 2017, Mike Inez stated in an interview that the band had begun work on a new album. Speaking with Good Celebrity on May 1, 2017, guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell revealed that Alice in Chains would return to Studio X (formerly Bad Animals Studios) in Seattle to record a new album in the following month. Studio X was the studio where Alice in Chains recorded their 1995 self-titled album, their last record with original lead vocalist Layne Staley.
In June 2017, Mike Inez revealed that the band was not signed to a label, having completed its previous two-record contract with the Universal Music Group. Inez recalled that the band financed their 2009 album Black Gives Way to Blue, so they were not too worried about not having a label yet. Inez also said that Alice in Chains is a global band, so it had to be a significant label that has the infrastructure to get the album in stores in places like Singapore or South America.
William DuVall revealed on his Instagram account that the band started recording the album on June 12, 2017. The sessions were helmed by Nick Raskulinecz, who produced the band's last two albums, Black Gives Way to Blue (2009) and The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (2013).
During an interview with Eddie Trunk on his radio show Trunk Nation on August 21, 2017, Jerry Cantrell said about the new album; "We're in the process of cobbling together some tunes, and hopefully in the very near future we'll have something out for you guys." When asked about a release date, he replied; "I don't know. We'll see. When we're ready we'll let you know – but we are in the process of working on stuff." During an appearance on the TV show Fantasy Live on September 19, 2017, Cantrell said that the band had been working all summer on writing some music and hopefully something would come out "next year".
In December 2017, the album was ranked by Ultimate Guitar as the No. 2 out of the "Top 25 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018".
On January 11, 2018, producer Nick Raskulinecz announced via Instagram that the album was nearly finished and that there was only one more day left of recording.
During an interview with Guitar World published on April 11, 2018, Jerry Cantrell said that the album was recorded at four studios. After recording at Studio X in Seattle, the band went to Nashville to record vocals and lead guitars at Nick Raskulinecz's home studio. But Cantrell had to take an unexpected break from work after getting sick on a trip to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico to celebrate Sammy Hagar's birthday. Cantrell ate something bad, then was prescribed antibiotics that his body rejected, sidelining him for six weeks to recover back in Los Angeles. Cantrell had Alice in Chains' engineer, Paul Figueroa, come in to his house and record a lot of his vocals and solos there. The band finished recording the album at the Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles. Cantrell also said he expected the album to be released "probably sometime this summer". The album was mixed at JHOC Studio, Joe Barresi's studio in Pasadena.
Gear-wise, Cantrell reported that he used "a lot of the old standard stuff", his G&L and Les Pauls guitars, and his signature Dave Friedman ‘Double J’ amp. Cleaner amps like AC30s and Fenders were also used. A cigar box amp that Nick Raskulinecz bought at the Pike Place Market in Seattle was used on three or four songs with a baritone guitar.
At the press room of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on April 14, 2018, Cantrell revealed that Alice in Chains had just signed with BMG, and that they had finished mixing their new album.
Music and lyrics
Speaking of the first single, "The One You Know", Jerry Cantrell said that he was inspired by David Bowie's 1975 hit "Fame". Cantrell said in an interview with Rolling Stone that he wrote the song around the time that Bowie died, and he must have been in his head a little bit.
The title track, "Rainier Fog" is a tribute to the Seattle scene that launched bands such as Alice in Chains themselves, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees and Nirvana. Cantrell took the title from the Mount Rainier, which overlooks the Seattle area. The original demo for the title track was recorded at Cantrell's house in Los Angeles, with the help of Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan, who also came from Seattle. McKagan played bass on the demo and said to Cantrell that it was his first single, although Cantrell didn't have lyrics for the song yet. The lyric "With you here we shared a space that's always half-empty" is about Layne Staley and Mike Starr.
"So Far Under" was written by William DuVall, who also played the guitar solo on the track. DuVall explained the song saying; "It's about feeling completely up against it – outnumbered, surrounded, facing seemingly unbeatable odds and being really pissed off about it. It was inspired by personal circumstances, as well as events in the wider world."
Cantrell wrote the music and the chorus to "Never Fade", but he did not have a good verse and was intending to write it throughout the recording process. However, DuVall stayed at the Studio X in Seattle alone until 3am and wrote the lyrics. "Never Fade" is DuVall's major composition in Rainier Fog. He wrote the lyrics inspired by the deaths of his grandmother and of Soundgarden lead vocalist Chris Cornell, among others. DuVall sings the verses and the pre-chorus of the song, while Cantrell sings the chorus. DuVall later told Kerrang! magazine that he was also thinking about Layne Staley while writing the lyrics.
While the band was recording at Studio X in the summer of 2017, former Queensrÿche guitarist Chris DeGarmo played acoustic guitar on the track "Drone", which Cantrell was struggling to get right in the studio. DeGarmo had previously collaborated with Cantrell as a touring guitarist on the tour for Cantrell's debut solo album, Boggy Depot, in 1998, and made a guest appearance on his 2002 solo album Degradation Trip. DeGarmo also worked with Mike Inez and Sean Kinney on the short-lived project Spys4Darwin.
The album closes with the seven-minute track "All I Am", described by Rolling Stone as "a swirling hard-rock tune that takes a long look backward, with sweeping guitar and echoes of Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin."
During Alice in Chains' concert at the House of Blues in Boston on April 28, 2018, Jerry Cantrell announced that a new song would be released the following week, and the new album would be released in August.
The album's first single, "The One You Know", was released via Spotify, Amazon and iTunes on May 3, 2018. It features Cantrell on lead vocals. A music video directed by Adam Mason was released on YouTube the same day.
During an interview with Eddie Trunk on Trunk Nation on May 7, 2018, Jerry Cantrell stated that the new album would be released at the end of August 2018, and that a new single would be released in 8 weeks.
On June 27, 2018, the album's second single, "So Far Under" with DuVall on lead vocals, was released via YouTube, streaming and digital download. The band also announced that the new album will be titled Rainier Fog and that it woul be released on August 24, 2018. The album's cover art and the track listing were also revealed on the same day, and the album was also made available for pre-order.
The album was released digitally, as well as on CD and limited-edition double 180-gram clear LP with white and black splatter available only from Alice in Chains' online store.
The third single, "Never Fade", was released on August 10, 2018 via YouTube, streaming and digital download. DuVall and Cantrell share lead vocals in the song.
One day ahead of the official release, the full album was played by Seattle radio station KISW along with an interview with the band.
The song "Red Giant" was released on Alice in Chains' official YouTube channel on August 23, 2018.
Alternative UK cover
The cover art was revealed on June 27, 2018. It features a black and white image of a triangle floating on the sea surrounded by fog. The triangle has an eye in the middle, similar to the Eye of Providence (or the all-seeing eye of God). A person can be seen inside of the eye. The artwork was designed by Ryan Clark, who also designed the artwork for Alice in Chains' previous album, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (2013).
An animated version of the artwork was also used in the audio visualizer for the tracks "So Far Under", "Never Fade", and "Red Giant" on YouTube.
An alternative vinyl cover with a white background was made available for UK indie stores in a limited edition of 1,000 copies.
The baseball team Seattle Mariners hosted a special "Alice in Chains Night" at the Safeco Field in Seattle on August 20, 2018 to promote Rainier Fog, with the team offering the fans a package that included a Safeco Field terrace club ticket, access to a pre-game listening party of the album, an Alice in Chains t-shirt and a Rainier Fog CD. Jerry Cantrell also threw out the ceremonial first pitch and delivered a strike before the Seattle Mariners vs. Houston Astros game.
To mark the launch of the album, on August 21, 2018, Alice in Chains performed an acoustic set at the top of Seattle's Space Needle and debuted the song "Fly". Alice in Chains were the first band to perform on the Space Needle's new "Loupe" glass floor, the world's first and only revolving glass floor 500 feet high. The concert was exclusive for an audience of SiriusXM subscribers. SiriusXM will broadcast the concert on August 31 at 5 p.m. EST.
On August 22, 2018, Alice in Chains sent fans on a Scavenger hunt to access a secret gig that the band would be performing in Seattle on August 24. Ten signed CD copies of Rainier Fog were hidden around the city as a ticket into the show, and the band asked the fans to keep an eye on their Instagram story for details on the 10 hidden locations. Once all 10 albums were found, the band revealed that the secret gig would be at the rock club The Crocodile, with limited tickets available with the purchase of their album at a pop-up event at the same venue the next day. Preview clips of each of the album tracks were posted on the band's Instagram.
The band also commemorated the release of the album with a pop-up museum installation at The Crocodile in Seattle on August 23 and 24. The museum featured rare Alice in Chains photos, limited-edition merchandise and memorabilia that showcased the band's 30+ year career.
Rainier Fog reached No. 1 on US iTunes Top Albums shortly after it was released on the iTunes store. Hours later, the album dropped to No. 2.
For Revolver magazine, Rainier Fog "delivers something for old and new fans alike, and leaves listeners with a feeling of great anticipation, and optimism, about what the future holds for the Seattle band."
Metal Hammer said that "each track showcases masterful songwriting and inspired lyricism. Rainier Fog sees the band breathing new life into their signature sound, with a diverse and deeply emotional collection that history will surely view as a career-defining statement."
For Billboard, "Cantrell's increased vocal presence and his tandem vocals with DuVall have made this "mark two" version of Alice such a vital force in the thinning field of hard rock acts on modern radio."
Loudwire wrote that Rainier Fog might be the finest album from Alice in Chains' current lineup, and that "Cantrell and DuVall have become such a good vocal team, it's sometimes difficult to determine where one voice ends and the other begins (this has always been the case with AiC and is why Cantrell is somewhat under-appreciated as a lead vocalist)."
Jerry Cantrell – lead vocals, lead guitar
William DuVall – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, guitar solo on "So Far Under"
Mike Inez – bass
Sean Kinney – drums
Chris DeGarmo – acoustic guitar on "Drone"
Produced by Nick Raskulinecz
Engineered by Paul Figueroa
Mixing by Joe Barresi
Artwork by Ryan Clark
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