Consider Rainier Fog as something as a homecoming for Alice in Chains. Named after the heavy mist that comes rolling down from nearby Mount Rainier, the album finds Alice in Chains recording in Seattle for the first time since the group reunited in 2008 with William DuVall replacing the late Layne Staley as lead vocalist. Alice in Chains are aware of the significance of their return to Seattle, the place where they formed and rose to fame, so they wrote a tribute to all of their compatriots in the grunge scene, but that title track obscures how the album as a whole feels as if this incarnation of the band is exceedingly comfortable in its own skin. By this point, this latter-day version of Alice in Chains has recorded as many albums as the original lineup and has been together nearly twice as long, which means there's an easy, evident chemistry to these ten songs. Alice in Chains smartly decide to lean into this coziness, never attempting something new -- the closest to a new wrinkle would be the ballad "Maybe," which has a bit of an '80s AOR bent -- and focusing on their interplay and craft instead. It's a gambit that pays off. Rainier Fog is, from front to back, a strong and lean record, one that benefits from its familiarity because the standard tricks -- the grinding guitars and droning harmonies -- now seem to carry not a whit of angst. This is music made from a band that has been through the wringer and is happy to settle down and play, and there's an undeniable appeal to that open heart, particularly when it's camouflaged underneath such nominally heavy music.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine