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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, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: A Looking In View (Radio Single)

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Track List: Check My Brain (Radio Single)

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Track List: Hollow (Single)

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Track List: Stone (Single)

Comments

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tlandry is a nicko impersonator
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Love Alice awesome motherf*ckin g band Fav song is angry chair or man in the box ! N I'm 12 all u old ppl think our gen is lost dumb*ss s
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solkissbass
The dog that gets beat. Right there w nirvana saving us from 80s lack of rock n roll - passion - flouting society's norms.
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Alice in chains and grunge music is my chips and salsa. My fav combo.
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I just wish this Nicko person would die or at least get banned from Pandora. He does not deserve to listen to a great band like AiC. You too Jeslyn, if you're gonna be a p***k, just go away. Honestly I can't just listen to AiC at a low volume, or see you f**kers at the same time!
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Great band bs or no bs the 90s were a good year for music in general
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I thought I made it clear that I want to listen to this band without ruckus. The band itself already causes enough, and you're just making it worse. I mean look at you guys. I listen to a variety of music, but AiC is underrated for just this reason. I can understand why the hate on them, and you show a great reason. This was my favorite band as a child.
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One of the best Alice in chains CD ever
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Don't hate b**ch.....it jams!!!
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Listening to man in the box ^-^ <3
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and it's easy to hate them because their fans make them look awful. I understand opinions, but people like sicknick are just idiots.
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it got cool to hate aic, just like it got cool to hate nickel back.
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All of you are dumb except the ones wanting to avoid this conversation and KingWeavile4 8 . Everyone else is just going to be the death of this band, like a few of you said. First of all, I love AiC. However, if you can't prove it's a good band, then it won't work. I want to see some more positive things, no more nonsense.
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ANYONE SAY AIC SUCKS IS A DUMB F*** THAT KNOWS JACK S*** ABOUT METAL OR ANY OTHER KIND OF ROCK
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Aic is the new nickelback
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❤️ Alice in Chains!
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My all time favorite band.
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nicko252008
Alice in chains is playing this summer. Despite king weaver the fans are awesome can't wait.
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Rip Layne
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Despite the fans, this band is really underrated, and is great for going camping, or something like that. R.I.P. AiC
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Best band ever, no one will ever top Layne
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Pre overdose? One of the best bands ever.
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The best post overdose band ever
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Great band from Man in a Box to No Excuses and Would great sound.
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nicko252008
All the bands I mentioned are garbage in my opinion, whatever floats your boat ;)
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Y'know, just because of KingWeavile4 8 , I'm going to start over. However, nicko252008, you can't force anyone's opinion whatsoever. I don't care if you recommend awesome bands that are only accused of ripping them off, you can't force a 2 year old's opinion. Soundgarden ftw
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Also, thanks for recommending stone sour, i found that they are really good, I'm not gonna lie. You really do give out great recommendati o n s , except maybe Nickelback, but hey, AiC helped out, so it can't be all bad.
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Love Alice in chains BUT Aaron Lewis version is pretty awesome ♡♡♡
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All i ment was fans. I love AiC, just not most fans. Sorry for taking things seriously, I do however want to say, music is for everyone. I listened to this as a child, and for you to say that AiC is for adults, you should go to Rehab, because there is no reason you can force a child what to listen to. You're the reason for AiC's hate.
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betteredge
lol comments on here always make me laugh I grew up listening to aic got nothing but love for them bands last forever when you can relate to them and layne wrote so openly as did jerry..this last part of my comment to whom ever got to sit and listen to duran duran with layne just gotta say that made my day that's beyond epic
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nicko252008
You guys should listen to junk like, nickelback, stone sour, godsmack, creed etc...becaus e your ears don't deserve Alice in chains.
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nicko252008
Alice in Chains is an awesome band go away children this is adult music.
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I just looked at their bio, and I did not like it! I'm now on HauntedKid47 5 8 ' s side
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I wanna see how many butthurt comments are on here. Have a nice day!
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@KingWeavile 4 8 . You are absolutely right! This band would be great without their fans, which are as bad as Taylor Swift, but just look at haohmaruofth e w i n d , he makes Justin Bieber look like Chuck Norris. Not only that, but this band isn't good either.
@haohmaruoft h e w i n d . We've had enough of you. You're making AiC look like bigger idiots, and ruined them.
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Oh, so you like w***es, I never would've suspected an AiC fan to say that. I still like them, but most people just ruin this band for the rest. It's a question why anyone would enjoy those 2 things at the same time. Why don't you follow in your dad's footsteps and go fall in a hole?
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I still like the sluts that used to go to see aic
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L ead S inger D isease
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Layne F**kin Staley!!! Enough said!!!! R.I.P. another amazing talent taken by a substance that has taken far to many artists and loved ones in yours, his, hers,theirs and mine. I call that substance THE DEVIL AKA HEROIN. I for one hate it !!!!!!!!! IMO/MPT
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I'm not ever going to f**king crack. Stand strong & trudge through the rain and pain. When you're going through hell, keep going...Sir Winston Churchill
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Hey @jamieb12871 ABQ NM..Ozzy, Sepultura, AIC.. Ive met a lot of bands but Layne was special and the whole band were down to earth.. Honestly Ozzy was being a dick that night.. Off drugs and irritated.. Being a diehard Sabbath fan. Its all good..
Report as inappropriate
Is Down In a Whole, one of my faves, about king kufu, or king tut, so on... it speaks t o me in an ancient Egyptian way.. super good tune!
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I see so much of myself and my son in that album cover. I love you son!
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Friends don't let friends do heroin
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there's a new Megadeth cd coming out with 15 songs
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deannamestra d a 7 0
I love the unplugged better but, Layne's voice is so amazing still can't be replaced!!!! Rip Layne
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jamieb12871
@ bargastryan7 3 what city ...felt like ize @ the table...Dall a s , T X here...zzozz f e s t ( 1 ) . . . i g o t t h e s h i r t ( b l a c k maroon & white skeleton)
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who dont like a bit of sweet mother H?
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my link the elf doll got baptized roman catholic
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would you vote for hillary clinton ?
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