Alice in Chains

Alice in ChainsAlice In Chains are an sludge/alternative metal band from Seattle, Washington that were part of the popular “grunge” movement in the early 1990’s. The band came into the spotlight with their first major hit in 1990, “Man in the Box.”  This preceded the craze of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by one year. Alice in Chains lineup on Facelift was Layne Staley (vocals, backing vocals, rhythm guitar), Jerry Cantrell (backing vocals, lead vocals, lead guitar), Mike Starr (bass, backing vocals), and Sean Kinney (drums, percussion, piano).

Alice in Chains recorded their initial EP We Die Young as a teaser to their upcoming album, Facelift. The EP We Die Young, released in July 1990, featured the title track “We Die Young,” “It Ain’t Like That,” and “Killing Myself.” Their debut album Facelift, was recorded throughout 1989-1990, and spawned four radio singles: “We Die Young,” “Man in the Box,” Sea of Sorrow,” and “Bleed the Freak.”

Following Facelift, the band released the acoustic EP Sap. It was originally intended to be a recorded session for the follow up album to Facelift, but the end result were five excellent acoustic tracks including “Brother,” “Right Turn,” “Got Me Wrong,” “Am I Inside,” and “Love Song.” Two of the songs included vocals from Ann Wilson of Heart, while Chris Cornell lends vocals to “Right Turn.”

The band, commonly abbreviated AIC, received commercial and critical acclaim for their 1992 album Dirt. The overall feel of the album was darker than Facelift, and spawned many successful singles, including “Would?,” “Them Bones,” “Rooster,” “Dam That River,” “Down in a Hole,” and “Angry Chair.” The band toured in support of the album with thrash metal bands Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth on the Clash of the Titans tour in 1992. Mike Starr would leave the band in the midst of the touring for Dirt. He was replaced by Mike Inez.

Following Dirt, the band recorded a seven song EP titled Jar of Flies. It was massively successful, spontaneous, and like Sap, contained mostly acoustic songs. The album reached number one on the Billboard Top 200, and the first EP in history to ever reach number one. Jar of Flies featured the successful singles “No Excuses” and “I Stay Away.” Other tracks like “Rotten Apple,” “Nutshell,” and “Don’t Follow” also received radio airplay. The success of these acoustic songs paved the way for many other grunge, post-grunge, alt metal, and metal bands to freely experiment and release acoustic songs and albums.

In 1994, the band began recording their self titled album, Alice in Chains, led by the leaked single “Grind.” The album successfully blends their acoustic EP sounds with their full length “signature” sound. It featured the songs “Grind,” “Heaven Beside You,” “Over Now,” and “Again.” The album, released in  is unofficially sometimes referred to as Tripod. The album performed well, and reached This is the final studio album to feature Layne Staley on vocals.

In 1996, the band peformed live on MTV Unplugged, and introduced the new song “Killer is Me.” Their renditions of “Brother,” “Nutshell,” “Over Now,” and “Rooster” were powerful that made one of the best episodes of the MTV Unplugged series.

The band went on hiatus following MTV Unplugged. Guitarist Jerry Cantrell embarked on a solo career, while other band members contributed to various projects. In 2002, Layne Staley was found dead in his Seattle apartment after no one had heard from him in two weeks. Staley is believed to have died on April 5, 2002, the victim of a heroin-cocaine overdose. Alice in Chains announced the band was disbanded following the announcement of Layne Stayey’s death.

Until 2005, the band refused to play together, finally reuniting for a tsunami benefit concert. With new singer William DuVall as the new singer for Alice in Chains, the band started to work on new studio material with the approval of fans and the family of Layne Staley. The result was the well received 2009 album, Black Gives Way to Blue. The album featured the singles “Looking in View,” “Check my Brain,” “Your Decision, ” and “Lesson Learned.” In 2013, the band released their album The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, which continued with DuVall on vocals. The singles “Hollow” and “Stone” were released in 2013.

You can hear Alice in Chains’ influence in bands like Staind, Days of the New, Godsmack, Creed, Nickelback, Tantric, Breaking Benjamin, Mudvayne, Cold, Incubus, and Taproot.

Discography

  • We Die Young (EP, 1990)
  • Facelift (1990)
  • Sap (EP, 1992)
  • Dirt (1992)
  • Jar of Flies (EP, 1994)
  • Alice in Chains (1995)
  • MTV Unplugged (1995)
  • Black Gives Way to Blue (2009)
  • The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (2013)

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