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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

Report as inappropriate
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!
Report as inappropriate
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!
Report as inappropriate
Rip dude!! Love your music. You will be missed
Report as inappropriate
Don't read this. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. Don't stop this is freaky. Put this on 15 songs in 143 minutes. When you're done press the space bar and you're crush's name will appear in big letters on the screen. This is so creepy because it actually works
Report as inappropriate
WOW would have been his 49th yesterday... RIP Angel
Report as inappropriate
Rip my my man
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mjmathison
Happy birthday Layne
Report as inappropriate
Coffin?
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Why U act CRAZY? A I C MAN!!!
Report as inappropriate
killerkennya s
R.i.p. Tommy aka lil boosie.. This song makes me think of you bro. Peace
Report as inappropriate
i grew up listing to james brown ,led zepplin it sucks when r favorites die i miss lane and scott
Report as inappropriate
damon.morgan 6 2
F**k you matty you suxk
Report as inappropriate
NO EXCUSES FOR NOT LIKING ALICE IN CHAINS!!! JERRY CANTRELL IS A ROCK GOD CUZ A I C COULD BE GONE!!! BUT JERRY HUNG IN THERE!!!!! VERY F**KIN COOL!!! THEY ARE AN EPIC BAND
Report as inappropriate
DOES ALICE IN CHAINS F**KIN ROCK OR WHAT? KIDS THESE DAYS DON'T CARE WHO SEE WHAT ABOUT WHOM!!WHY?? NO EXCUSES IS AN AWESOME SONG BY A F**KIN COOL BAND....TG FOR JERRY!!
Report as inappropriate
hedrick_stev e n
naw Matty I believe you suck.....the n spit or swallow?
Report as inappropriate
So does your mom, have her LAP me up matty boy.
Report as inappropriate
These guys suck. That is all
Report as inappropriate
...I bleed for you
you think it's funny
you're drowning in it too..
Report as inappropriate
edgar.gl
Both The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, and Black Gives Way to Blue are excellent.
Report as inappropriate
edgar.gl
AIC is still an amazing band!
Report as inappropriate
Walk in the same addiction we had live suck. Best song righter ever
Report as inappropriate
A I C ROCKS N ALWAYS WILL
Report as inappropriate
Grand Theft Auto San Andreas X Radio For Thee Generation X Victims....
Report as inappropriate
Layne had an amazing voice. It saddens me to think of such a waste of talent. Will always love Alice in Chains!!
Report as inappropriate
I sure wish Mike Starr had had a chance to be on the album!
Report as inappropriate
Wish i could. Hear. More
Report as inappropriate
THEY R ALSO ONE THE BEST BANDS TO COME FROM LATE 80-90s!!!!!!
Report as inappropriate
JERRY IS A COOL GUY WHO IS SO F**KIN TALENTED!!!! HE IS THE HEART N SOUL OF A I C !!!! N HES HOT:)
Report as inappropriate
Jerry Cantrell is the sound of AIC, if you guys would listen to his solo albums you would find that out. He wrote most of the music, especially the guitar...
Report as inappropriate
Layne has the vocal chops of an aligator on some oxy with a speed buz
Report as inappropriate
Alice n chains is one of my favorite bands Layne was so awesome
Report as inappropriate
chel137
I saw them live many times and it will never be aic without Layne. He took the band with him.
Report as inappropriate
Layne, in my opinion, was one of the best rock singers to walk the earth. One of my regrets was that I never got to see him live. However, I did get to see Alice with their new singer William. They are still great, but definitely missing Layne. I named my last son Layne, after my vocal idol. I do miss him dearly. RIP....
Report as inappropriate
bricelands1
Layne was amazing. Thanks for the memories and the great music!
Report as inappropriate
This song slaps you upside the face and begs you for more
Report as inappropriate
maresgift
Rip layne stayley
Report as inappropriate
Can't count the gods out just yet
Report as inappropriate
Just picked up Jerry's solo albums really good, check em out.
Report as inappropriate
AIC RULES!!
Report as inappropriate
shkourko
AIC Forever !! RIP Layne
Report as inappropriate
I am about to slit my throat. Lord forbid.
Report as inappropriate
Awesome song!
Report as inappropriate
I live in a Sludge Factory surrounded by Dirt.I need the Man in the Box to Dam the River for me...Layne for life.
Report as inappropriate
song6garden
Love AIC. Such heavy sludgy guitars accompanied by Layne & Jerry's beautiful harmonies-th e contrast of them-in and of itself- is insanely brilliant. Miss Layne constantly. Mike & him r jamming somewhere, hopefully. New AIC- commendable effort, but no thanks, I pass.
Report as inappropriate
I Totally agree that Jerry Is very talented. Love Chains!
Report as inappropriate
For my brother... love you and miss you!!!��.... R.I.P.
Report as inappropriate
Rip ls
Report as inappropriate
You'll never know Alice less u saw Alice... R.I.P L.S
Report as inappropriate
One of the greats. Just saw them for the first time open up for Guns N Roses. What a show.
Report as inappropriate
Alice in chains, unique, almost out of tune like? but I f-----g love them, even their name is heavy man, be cool- shame bout laney
Show more

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