Gearphoria Volume 7, Number 1

66 GEARPHORIA SEP/OCT 2018 REVIEWS u ARTIST: Alice In Chains ALBUM: Rainier Fog LABEL: BMG VERDICT: THE MAGPIE Salute is not The Black Crowes. That said, I’m betting they have no interest in being The Black Crowes, however with Crowes chief song-spinner and another former Crowes guitarist (that’s Rich Robinson and Marc Ford, respectively), you’d be hard pressed not to hear some similarities between some of the deeper hooks on High Water I and those dotting the extensive Crowes catalog. The first studio effort from the band is a 12-track delight of back roads and road house Americana. From the opening Tele crank of ‘Mary The Gypsy’ and the acoustic riffage of ‘High Water’ to the ho- down low-down of ‘Hand In Hand’ and Ford-led plod-nee-ballad ‘Open Up’, there is something rewarding for all fans of this group’s previous professional endeavors and for those looking for the group members to expand a bit beyond their traditional borders. Drop in the classic Crow- esque vibe of ‘Send Me An Omen’, the ballad-to-steamroller transfor- mation of ‘For The Wind’ and the backroom boogie of ‘Take It All’ and you’ve got yourself a party... and I, for one, was happy (and privileged) to get an invitation. G ARTIST: The Magpie Salute ALBUM: High Water I LABEL: Mascot/Eagle Rock Records VERDICT: Mojo Risin’ FROM THE discordant intro to ‘The One You Know’ to the reflec- tive balladry of ‘All I Am’, the new Alice In Chains record channels a band secure with its identity and not one still searching for meaningful direction in what can appear like a sea of rudderless contemporaries. Guitarist Jerry Cantrell has firmly entrenched himself as Captain of the ship on Rainier Fog , the band’s third studio album since the death of former lead singer Layne Staley, and sixth overall. Given the run some of the band’s peers have been on in recent years — Soundgarden losing Chris Cornell, Stone Temple Pilots losing Scott Weiland and Chester Bennington, etc. — the band appears more reflective on home and the good old days, and appear to be on more solid footing this time around over 2013’s The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here . The album’s title track is a batter- ing ram for your earhole, built on Cantrell’s circular, guttural guitar riff looping furiously though the verse sections. ‘Red Giant’ feels like it could have been on Side 2 of the band’s 1995 self-titled album. Fun fact: the basic tracks for Rainier Fog were recorded at Studio X (formerly Bad Animals) in Se- attle, where the self-titled effort was recorded. The band hits the breaks for the acoustically-driven ‘Fly’ — a bouncy number with a darker turn, but reloads for ‘Drone’, a forget- table, paint-by-numbers grungefest. One highlight of Rainier Fog can be found in ‘Deaf Ears Blind Eyes’ with its harmony guitar lines and tar- thick vocal layering offering a dirge for modern times. ‘Maybe’ is another memorable turn. Another song built on an acoustic skeleton and Cantrell and William DuVall’s vocal melding. ‘So Far Under’ is classic AiC, to the point where if you close your eyes and cock your ears you might be able to pick up hints of Staley’s signature drone, while ‘Never Fade’, once you strip away the Al- ice In Chain-isms is a rather ordi- nary rock-and-roll song. The album closes with ‘All I Am’ — a seven-minute dirge that allows DuVall a bit more of the spotlight vocally than most of the other songs on Rainier Fog . The song is haunt- ing and self-reflective — a pair of AiC recurring themes throughout the band’s history. Rainier Fog isn’t the perfect Al- ice In Chains record, but it serves as a good snapshot of where the band is at in 2018 — deliberate, unapologetic and still a little rough around the edges. G Of murk and mountains , a tale of post-grunge by AiC