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Alice In Chains

In many ways, Alice in Chains was the definitive heavy metal band of the early '90s. Drawing equally from the heavy riffing of post-Van Halen metal and the gloomy strains of post-punk, the band developed a bleak, nihilistic sound that balanced grinding hard rock with subtly textured acoustic numbers. They were hard enough for metal fans, yet their dark subject matter and punky attack placed them among the front ranks of the Seattle-based grunge bands. While this dichotomy helped the group soar to multi-platinum status with their second album, 1992's Dirt, it also divided them. Guitarist Jerry Cantrell always leaned toward the mainstream, while vocalist Layne Staley was fascinated with the seamy underground. Such tension drove the band toward stardom in their early years, but following Dirt, Alice in Chains suffered from near-crippling internal tensions that kept the band off the road for the remainder of the '90s and, consequently, the group never quite fulfilled their potential.

Staley formed the initial incarnation of the band while in high school in the mid-'80s, naming the group Alice N Chains. Staley met Cantrell in 1987 at the Seattle rehearsal warehouse the Music Bank and the two began working together, changing the group's name to Alice in Chains. Cantrell's friends Mike Starr (bass) and Sean Kinney (drums) rounded out the lineup, and the band began playing local Seattle clubs. Columbia Records signed the group in 1989 and the label quickly made the band a priority, targeting heavy metal audiences. Early in 1990, the label released the We Die Young EP as a promotional device and the song became a hit on metal radio, setting the stage for the summer release of the group's debut, Facelift. Alice in Chains supported the album by opening for Van Halen, Poison, and Iggy Pop, and it became a hit, going gold by the end of the year. As the band prepared their second album, they released the largely acoustic EP Sap in 1991 to strong reviews.

Prior to the release of Alice in Chains' second album, Seattle became a media sensation thanks to the surprise success of Nirvana. As a result, Alice was now marketed as an alternative band, not as a metal outfit, and the group landed a song, the menacing "Would?," on the Singles soundtrack during the summer of 1992. "Would?" helped build anticipation for Dirt, the group's relentlessly bleak second album that was released in the fall of 1992 to very good reviews. Following its release, Starr left and was replaced by Mike Inez. Dirt went platinum by the end of 1992, but its gloomy lyrics launched many rumors that Staley was addicted to heroin. Alice in Chains soldiered on in the face of such criticism, performing successfully on the third Lollapalooza tour in 1993, which helped Dirt reach sales of three million.

The band released the low-key EP Jar of Flies in early 1994. It debuted at number one upon its release, becoming the first EP to top the album charts. Despite the band's continued success, they stayed off the road, which fueled speculation that Staley was mired in heroin addiction. Later that year, Staley did give a few concerts as part of the Gacy Bunch, a Seattle supergroup also featuring Pearl Jam's Mike McCready, the Screaming Trees' Barrett Martin, and John Saunders. The group subsequently renamed itself Mad Season and released Above in early 1995. Later that year, Alice in Chains re-emerged with an eponymous third album, which debuted at number one on the American charts. Again, the band chose not to tour, which launched yet another round of speculation that the band was suffering from various addictions and were on the verge of disbanding. The group did give one concert -- their first in three years -- in 1996, performing for an episode of MTV Unplugged, which was released as an album that summer. Despite its success, the album did nothing to dispel doubts about the group's future and neither did Cantrell's solo album, Boggy Depot, in 1998.

Cantrell basically released Boggy Depot because he couldn't get Staley to work, but its very existence -- and the presence of Inez and Kinney on the record, not to mention Alice producer Toby Wright -- seemed to confirm that the group was on moratorium at best, and defunct at worst. Staley, for his part, stayed quiet, conceding his spot on Mad Season's second album to Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan. In 1999, Sony put together a three-disc Alice in Chains box set, Music Bank, divided between the group's best work and assorted rarities. At the turn of the new millennium, Columbia Records issued Live, which plucked material from bootlegs, demos, and festival shows covering the years 1990, 1993, and 1996.

As if the group hadn't been repackaged as many times as possible with its limited repertoire, a ten-track best-of set, Greatest Hits, appeared in July 2001. With no sign of the group reclaiming their spot atop the alt-metal heap (and such copycat acts as Godsmack, Days of the New, Puddle of Mudd, and Creed taking the Alice in Chains formula to the top of the charts), Cantrell completed his sophomore solo effort, Degradation Trip, in 2002. But just two months before the album's release, in April 2002, the news that every Alice in Chains fan had been fearing for years had finally come to pass: Layne Staley was found dead due to a lethal overdose of cocaine and heroin. (Former bassist Mike Starr also battled his own addictions through the years, and in fact appeared on the VH1 reality show Celebrity Rehab in 2010; Starr continued to fight chemical dependency until his death in March 2011 in Salt Lake City, Utah.) Although understandably grief-stricken, Cantrell launched his solo album's supporting tour according to schedule, opting to open shows in the summer for another Alice in Chains-influenced band, Nickelback. Alice in Chains spent the next few years in limbo, eventually reuniting in 2005 for a benefit show with Damageplan vocalist Pat Lachman filling in for the deceased Staley. After rotating through a handful of different singers, the group eventually settled on Comes with the Fall vocalist William DuVall, who appeared on the group's 2009 comeback record Black Gives Way to Blue.

Black Gives Way to Blue was a successful comeback, debuting at five on the Billboard 200 and going gold in the U.S. and Canada, while racking up two Grammy nominations. The group toured into 2010 and then in 2011 set to work on another album, titled The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, which arrived in the summer of 2013. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Greg Prato
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Black Gives Way To Blue

1. All Secrets Known

2. Check My Brain

3. Last Of My Kind

4. Your Decision

5. A Looking In View

6. When The Sun Rose Again

7. Acid Bubble

9. Take Her Out

10. Private Hell

11. Black Gives Way To Blue.

x

Track List: The Essential Alice In Chains

Disc 1

1. We Die Young

2. Man In The Box

3. Sea Of Sorrow

4. Love, Hate, Love

5. Am I Inside

6. Brother

7. Got Me Wrong

8. Right Turn

9. Rain When I Die

10. Them Bones

11. Angry Chair

12. Dam That River

13. Dirt

14. God Smack

15. Hate To Feel

16. Rooster

Disc 2

1. No Excuses

2. I Stay Away

3. What The Hell Have I (Remix)

4. A Little Bitter (Remix)

5. Grind

6. Heaven Beside You

7. Again

8. Over Now (Alternate Version) (live)

9. Nutshell (Alternate Version) (live)

10. Get Born Again

11. Died

12. Would?

x

Track List: Greatest Hits

1. Man In The Box

2. Them Bones

3. Rooster

4. Angry Chair

5. Would?

6. No Excuses

7. I Stay Away

8. Grind

9. Heaven Beside You

10. Again

x

Track List: Nothing Safe - The Best Of The Box

1. Get Born Again

2. We Die Young

3. Man In The Box

4. Them Bones

6. Angry Chair

7. Down In A Hole

10. No Excuses

11. I Stay Away

12. What The Hell Have I

13. Grind

14. Again

15. Would?

x

Track List: Alice In Chains

1. Grind

2. Brush Away

3. Sludge Factory

4. Heaven Beside You

5. Head Creeps

6. Again

7. Shame In You

8. God Am

9. So Close

10. Nothin' Song

11. Frogs

12. Over Now

x

Track List: Jar Of Flies

1. Rotten Apple

2. Nutshell

3. I Stay Away

4. No Excuses

5. Whale & Wasp

6. Don't Follow

7. Swing On This

x

Track List: Dirt

1. Them Bones

2. Dam That River

3. Rain When I Die

4. Down In A Hole

5. Sickman

6. Rooster

7. Junkhead

8. Dirt

9. God Smack

10. (Untitled)

11. Hate To Feel

12. Angry Chair

13. Would?

x

Track List: Facelift

1. We Die Young

2. Man In The Box

3. Sea Of Sorrow

4. Bleed The Freak

5. I Can't Remember

6. Love, Hate, Love

7. It Ain't Like That

8. Sunshine

9. Put You Down

10. Confusion

11. I Know Somethin (Bout You)

12. Real Thing

x

Track List: A Looking In View (Radio Single)

1. A Looking In View

x

Track List: Check My Brain (Radio Single)

1. Check My Brain

x

Track List: Hollow (Single)

1. Hollow

x

Track List: Stone (Single)

3. Stone

x

Track List: The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

1. Hollow

2. Pretty Done

3. Stone

4. Voices

5. The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

6. Lab Monkey

7. Low Ceiling

8. Breath On A Window

9. Scalpel

10. Phantom Limb

11. Hung On A Hook

12. Choke

Comments

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Love them!! Love this song!!
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�� ALICE IN CHAINS ARE SN EPIC BAND!!!! WITH SO MANY EXCELLENT SONGS THAT ARE DEEP & COOL!!! WON'T EVER BE ANY BAND LIKE THEM & ALL THE EPIC BANDS!!! WE LOVE YA ! ��������
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R.I.P. Layne...you had such a beautiful voice...we'l l see you on the other side.
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I'm 11 and my favorite bands are Nirvana and Alice in chains
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therapy!!!!! !
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Man in the box is my favorite ! Throwing it back!
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Had a few chances to see these dudes in 92. Such a disappointme n t to my self that I passed it up. Sorry I missed you layne. RIP "BROTHER"
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Love this song<3
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¥¥¥¥¥ ANOTHER EXCELLENT, KILLER SONG BY SUCH A GREAT & INFLUENTIAL BAND!!!! AIC FOREVER!!! ¥¥¥¥¥ TURN IT UP & ROCK ON MAN!!!!!!!
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Wish I would seen Aic with Layne, bummed I never did!!
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One best Rock bands of the 90s,Layne's voice with Jerry's had perfect harmony!!
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Best band ever!
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One Of MY FAVORITE BANDS!!!
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¥¥¥ ALICE IN CHAINS ARE(WERE :( ) SUCH A GREAT BAND, ONE OF MY FACES!!!! ¥¥¥
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Sludge factory easily the best
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The only BAND
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Best band of the 90s hands down.
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irish26144
Pure Talent ;))
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***A I C. HAS SO MANY GREAT SONGS!!!!*** HOW CAN U EVEN TRY TO DECIDE???
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irish26144
<3
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mikefresh197 5 5
My favorite band from the 90s ive seen every band except for them with layne wish i could have i love mad season also there is somethong about his voice that gets to me.
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man in the box
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THE best band to ever rise out of Seattle. Yes, even better than Nirvana folks. There is not one song they recorded while Layne was still alive that wasn't a good song. Period.
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THE best band to every rise out of Seattle. Period.
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Rocking out some Chains in my personal Sudge Factory scared to face the dying nothing but they say it Aint like that Anymore.Damn that River too ya'll. ..lol
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******** ALICE IN CHAINS.... WHAT AN AWESOME BAND!!!! ONE OF MY FAVE BANDS!!!! TY JERRY FOR UR GENIUS & RIP LAYNE-U R ONE OF A KIND MSN
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nicolivolkav e
STP is the led zeppelin of the 90's, there music will be played 25 years from now, they have sooo many classic tracks.
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alabastervil l i s 0
grunge and good do not belong in the same sentence. AiC never returned the favor that thrash did for them by taking them out on tour. if your talent is a needle and a spoon then you have no real talent, How many of these losers are dead now? Just bout all of them. proof enough
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This guy screamed in a high pitched voice in all his music. Nothing but grunge garbage and aggressive, non working fans.
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Well I'm impressed but still no wild nothing bad liquor pond psychic ills pulsar
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Bleed the Freak!!!
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This ain't heavy metal idk what anybody say
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Layne stayley I dedicate my 1st music recorded to you , WUZ , SOMETHING IS NOTHING= MIRROR IS LYING
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nicocamp02
Alice in Chains and Nirvana were the best grunge bands of the 90s
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justinjenny4 9 5
❤❤❤❤❤
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Nice tune....
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>I LOVE AIC..RIP LAYNE,.. ALICE WILL FOREVER BE 1 OF MY FAVORITE BANDS & WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED
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Yea baby go for it, have I got a store for baby. Yea
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Awesome song
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haha. HEAVEN BESIDE YOU, HELL WITHIN
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HEAVEN BESIDE ME. ONE of My FAVORITE SONGS!!!!
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awesome song .love this group
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√√√ALICE IN CHAINS JUST F**KIN ROCK! & WILL FOREVER√√√
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One of the best shows that I ever seen Alice in chains & OZZY
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Technically pure heroine, top dogs forever. I am gonna be at there eternally chorus in glory. Rip bro. I see ya shortly. LS JC Duo best to master mortal obligations. STARRY!
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Great drinking song
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Rest in peace Layne. Alice in Chains rocks and so does that song. No excuses it's spelled his name wrong so I that's another comment rest in peace, Layne. Rock on!
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Totally f****** awesome jam @ version of this song, from the Unplugged album by Alice in Chains. the song: No excuses, totally rocks, and sounds awesome! Alice in Chains kickass America! Rest in peace Laney. Rock on!
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Rip dude!! Love your music. You will be missed
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WOW would have been his 49th yesterday... RIP Angel
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