ALICE IN CHAINS

Alternative Metal / Non-Metal • United States
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Alice in Chains are one of the most influential American rock bands of the early '90s. Drawing equally from the heavy riffing of metal and the gloomy strains of post-punk, the band developed a bleak, nihilistic sound that balanced grinding metallic riffs 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/vocalist 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.

Formed in 1987 by
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ALICE IN CHAINS Discography

ALICE IN CHAINS albums / top albums

ALICE IN CHAINS Facelift album cover 3.76 | 61 ratings
Facelift
Alternative Metal 1990
ALICE IN CHAINS Dirt album cover 4.38 | 129 ratings
Dirt
Alternative Metal 1992
ALICE IN CHAINS Alice In Chains album cover 3.85 | 50 ratings
Alice In Chains
Alternative Metal 1995
ALICE IN CHAINS Black Gives Way To Blue album cover 3.91 | 62 ratings
Black Gives Way To Blue
Alternative Metal 2009
ALICE IN CHAINS The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here album cover 3.96 | 31 ratings
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
Alternative Metal 2013
ALICE IN CHAINS Rainier Fog album cover 3.85 | 13 ratings
Rainier Fog
Alternative Metal 2018

ALICE IN CHAINS EPs & splits

ALICE IN CHAINS We Die Young album cover 2.91 | 7 ratings
We Die Young
Alternative Metal 1990
ALICE IN CHAINS Sap album cover 3.76 | 26 ratings
Sap
Non-Metal 1992
ALICE IN CHAINS Jar Of Flies album cover 4.00 | 44 ratings
Jar Of Flies
Non-Metal 1994

ALICE IN CHAINS live albums

ALICE IN CHAINS MTV Unplugged album cover 4.60 | 26 ratings
MTV Unplugged
Non-Metal 1996
ALICE IN CHAINS Live album cover 3.55 | 6 ratings
Live
Alternative Metal 2000
ALICE IN CHAINS Live Facelift album cover 4.50 | 2 ratings
Live Facelift
Alternative Metal 2016

ALICE IN CHAINS demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

ALICE IN CHAINS The Treehouse Tapes album cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
The Treehouse Tapes
Alternative Metal 1988
ALICE IN CHAINS Publisher Demos album cover 3.00 | 2 ratings
Publisher Demos
Alternative Metal 1989

ALICE IN CHAINS re-issues & compilations

ALICE IN CHAINS Jar Of Flies / Sap album cover 3.65 | 6 ratings
Jar Of Flies / Sap
Non-Metal 1994
ALICE IN CHAINS Nothing Safe: The Best Of The Box album cover 4.00 | 5 ratings
Nothing Safe: The Best Of The Box
Alternative Metal 1999
ALICE IN CHAINS Music Bank album cover 4.00 | 3 ratings
Music Bank
Alternative Metal 1999
ALICE IN CHAINS Greatest Hits album cover 1.44 | 4 ratings
Greatest Hits
Alternative Metal 2001
ALICE IN CHAINS The Essential Alice In Chains album cover 4.17 | 3 ratings
The Essential Alice In Chains
Alternative Metal 2006

ALICE IN CHAINS singles (25)

.. Album Cover
3.83 | 3 ratings
Man In The Box
Alternative Metal 1991
.. Album Cover
3.25 | 2 ratings
Bleed The Freak
Alternative Metal 1991
.. Album Cover
3.25 | 2 ratings
Sea Of Sorrow
Alternative Metal 1991
.. Album Cover
3.50 | 2 ratings
Would?
Alternative Metal 1992
.. Album Cover
3.50 | 2 ratings
Rooster
Alternative Metal 1992
.. Album Cover
3.50 | 2 ratings
Down In A Hole
Alternative Metal 1993
.. Album Cover
3.25 | 2 ratings
What The Hell Have I
Alternative Metal 1993
.. Album Cover
3.83 | 3 ratings
Them Bones
Alternative Metal 1993
.. Album Cover
3.67 | 3 ratings
Angry Chair
Alternative Metal 1993
.. Album Cover
3.25 | 2 ratings
No Excuses
Non-Metal 1994
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Don't Follow
Non-Metal 1994
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
I Stay Away
Non-Metal 1994
.. Album Cover
3.00 | 3 ratings
Grind
Alternative Metal 1995
.. Album Cover
3.25 | 2 ratings
Heaven Beside You
Alternative Metal 1995
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Again
Alternative Metal 1995
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Fear The Voices
Alternative Metal 1995
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Over Now
Alternative Metal 1996
.. Album Cover
3.00 | 2 ratings
Get Born Again
Alternative Metal 1999
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Your Decision
Alternative Metal 2009
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
Lesson Learned
Alternative Metal 2009
.. Album Cover
3.00 | 2 ratings
A Looking In View
Alternative Metal 2009
.. Album Cover
3.00 | 2 ratings
Check My Brain
Alternative Metal 2009
.. Album Cover
4.06 | 5 ratings
Hollow
Alternative Metal 2013
.. Album Cover
3.25 | 2 ratings
Stone
Alternative Metal 2013
.. Album Cover
4.50 | 1 ratings
What The Hell Have I / Get Born Again
Alternative Metal 2017

ALICE IN CHAINS movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
3.00 | 2 ratings
Live Facelift
Alternative Metal 1991
.. Album Cover
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Nona Tapes
Alternative Metal 1995
.. Album Cover
4.00 | 5 ratings
Unplugged
Non-Metal 1996
.. Album Cover
3.25 | 4 ratings
Music Bank: The Videos
Alternative Metal 1999

ALICE IN CHAINS Reviews

ALICE IN CHAINS Dirt

Album · 1992 · Alternative Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Necrotica
Last month, I published one of the hardest poems I’ve ever had to pen. For me, writing a new piece always starts with one difficult question: “how much do I want to reveal to the reader and how much do I want to leave up to interpretation?” From the time my alcoholism started to the time it (thankfully) ended, I always left a few breadcrumbs here and there about the subject in my poetry. It’s as if I wanted to address the problem while skirting around it at the same time; perhaps it was a mechanism to maintain some subtlety in my writing, or perhaps I was unwilling to confront the issue directly. Yet it was always there, and no amount of avoiding it would have changed the fact that I’d need to confront it directly someday. As it turns out, 2022 was that someday; I wrote everything that needed to be spelled out to the letter, and it was gut wrenching. What finally inspired me to face the whole ordeal head-on? Dirt. Alice in Chains’ masterpiece served - and still serves - as proof that being open and revealing about personal conflict can be the best form of therapy in one’s darkest moments.

It seems as though Layne Staley never had a problem expressing such frankness with his lyrics and vocals. One listen to Dirt reveals a man constantly spilling his guts and bleeding out on record, as if he had nothing to lose any time he approached the mic. Very few albums are less open to interpretation than this one, and that’s what makes it one of the best records of its era; Nevermind might have been the flagship album of the grunge movement, but nothing expressed the subculture’s dark pathos or downcast nature quite like Dirt. Even the songs that aren’t directly related to Staley’s drug abuse, such as Jerry’s Cantrell’s war-themed “Rooster” or the tribute to early grunge icon Andrew Wood that is “Would?”, are delivered with the same brutal honesty and manage to stay consistent with the album’s overall theme: personal demons. Dirt has nothing to celebrate and no one to congratulate, instead focusing on how horrifying our real-life hells can be if we let them consume us. In the case of some of these songs, the outcome of these ordeals is even more harrowing - especially on “Junkhead”, in which our narrator finally succumbs to his addiction altogether and says “it ain’t so bad”.

Of course, a big part of Dirt’s twisted magic is that the music matches the subject matter so well. Any of the 80s influence that was found on Facelift has been completely wiped away in favor of a sludgy metallic murk, perfectly conveying the desert burial on the album cover. While there are a few songs that run at a quicker pace - the off-kilter groove of “Them Bones”, the punkish tempo of “Dam That River”, etc. - their chunky riffs and oppressive atmosphere ensure that they aren’t out of place with the rest of the tracklist. As for the slower tunes, many of them approach straight-up doom metal territory: “Junkhead”, “Hate to Feel” and the title track trudge along at a snail’s pace as they leave the listener enveloped in a thick haze of despair and dread. All of this perfectly supplements the messages Alice in Chains wanted to deliver on Dirt, as well as making them one of the only grunge bands to have crossover appeal with the metal crowd. More importantly, Dirt saw the full mastery of one of Alice in Chains’ biggest trademarks: the incredible vocal harmonies between Cantrell and Staley. These were on Facelift as well, but Dirt is where they really started to shine; songs like “Down in a Hole”, “Sickman”, and “Hate to Feel” simply wouldn’t have the same impact without them, especially the former and its soft, sorrowful verses.

In hindsight, however, the most depressing aspect of Dirt - much like the self-titled followup - was how prophetic it was. Staley knew he was digging his grave prematurely with every needle, and the lyrics of Alice in Chains’ 90s output make this distressingly clear. Yet it can’t be denied that he had one of the most unique and incredible voices of that entire era of rock; the way he juggled technical ability, emotion, and - as stated before - brutal honesty was only matched by a small handful of other artists at the time. Just watch the live performance of “Love Hate Love” at The Moore and it becomes clear just how much of a loss the rock world endured in 2002 with Staley’s passing. I like to see Dirt as the American grunge equivalent of Manic Street Preachers’ The Holy Bible, in the sense that the album is every bit as much a tortured character portrait as it is a record. Cantrell, Sean Kinney, and Mike Starr might have been involved in the writing of Dirt (though the latter two only contributed to one song), but this really feels like Staley’s record first and foremost. It also remains his finest hour, serving as a foreboding message to those with personal demons: don’t let them drag you down and destroy you, or else you’ll find yourself in the grave before you can pull yourself back out.

~R.I.P. Layne Staley 1967-2002~

ALICE IN CHAINS Facelift

Album · 1990 · Alternative Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Unitron
"I know somethin'"

Best thing Alice in Chains ever did, partly because of the band transitioning from hair metal to grunge. I love the unique sound that some bands had during the time hair bands were leaving the metal mainstream and grunge was entering it, there's this balancing act between dark heavy shit and dumb party hooks that isn't heard anywhere else. I love AiC's following two albums too, but it's almost all doom and gloom. This is dark, Layne's drug addicted lyrics are all over this thing, but the music's got a party vibe backed by massive grooves and swaggering sleaze. A song like Put You Down sounds right at home with the likes of Dr. Feelgood and Welcome to the Jungle.

We Die Young is one of the best openers to any metal album, and just perfectly sets the stage for the perfect blend of depressive lyrics with pumped up heavy metal hooks. Put You Down and funky banger I Know Somethin' (Bout You) are probably my favorites, but Sunshine is the best showing of the contrast. It keeps switching between the brooding sludge of songs like It Ain't Like That with the hooks of Put You Down.

There's nothing like some good glam grunge.

ALICE IN CHAINS Alice In Chains

Album · 1995 · Alternative Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Unitron
Alice in Chains' self titled album, their last album to feature frontman Layne Staley, is one that is often forgotten or pushed aside in their discography. It is probably overshadowed by Dirt, which is often seen as the band's magnum opus and a crown jewel of the grunge genre, as well as the band's 2009 comeback album Black Gives Way to Blue, which is often seen as their best album after Dirt if not their best (Which I personally don't understand, I find that album pretty boring and bland, but that's a review for another day).

Alice in Chains is an album where you can just hear all the band tensions and what was going on at the time. While Jerry Cantrell has expressed his joy with the finished product, it sounds like Staley's heroin addiction made it a pain to get the record done. The band has never been known for uplifting music, but this album might very well be their most outright depressing and dreary album.

The underlying doom metal influence that's always been with the band perhaps shows up the most on this album. However, it is blended with some bittersweet melodies, harmonies, and a creative use of the band's acoustic side shown on their EP's. The band finally brings their two sounds together on this album, and it works beautifully. Great examples of this are on the longer songs on the album, such as "Sludge Factory", "Heaven Beside You", and "Frogs". You get this mesh of sludgy riffing dripping with misery and twangy acoustic blues guitar that actually enhances the overall mood. "Sludge Factory" I believe uses this sound best and is probably my favorite on the album.

Cantrell's comment in an interview of "Our music's kind of about taking something ugly and making it beautiful", really paints a good picture of this album's sound. This is partly due to the harmonies the Cantrell and Staley always make even in a really heavy or somber song. I once again refer to the longer songs on the album, especially "Heaven Beside You", whose bittersweet chorus is always followed up by this heavy doom metal riff. There's also some great screeching soloing on this record, like with "Sludge Factory" as well as "Brush Away". "Nothin' Song" also features this combined with some excellent syncopation. For one of the more doom-sounding songs, they sure made it pretty catchy. I think they knew that with the inclusion of lyrics such as "Well the nothin' song sticks to your mouth, like peanut butter on the brain".

This album is a perfect example of a grower. While Facelift has the instant appeal of it's infectiously catchy hooks and riffs, and Dirt has classic status, it takes a few listens for this one to fully sink in. Not to say there aren't some instant hooks on this album though, as I've always loved the classic opener of "Grind" and "Head Creeps" which immediately get you headbanging to the teeth-gritting riffs. If you've only heard this album once or twice and not thinking much of it, I recommend giving it another listen. It's a real underrated gem that deserves the same appreciation as the band's other albums.

https://thewickednest.blogspot.com/2018/02/alice-in-chains-alice-in-chains-review.html

ALICE IN CHAINS Black Gives Way To Blue

Album · 2009 · Alternative Metal
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Warthur
Of course this Alice In Chains sounds older and wiser than the unit that had first emerged during the peak grunge period - just look at what they'd been through since their previous studio album. First there were the seven years whilst the band was in limbo as a result of Layne Staley's struggles with bereavement, drug addiction, and a retreat into a reclusive lifestyle suggesting that there were perhaps additional mental health issues exacerbating these; then there was the shock of Staley's death, prompting the band to temporarily dissolve itself until in 2005 they drew together again and decided to continue their legacy.

New lad William DuVall takes up Staley's spot on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, though Jerry Cantrell shares the lead vocals here. This is a smart decision because it allows DuVall to ease into the role and gives more of a sense of continuity. As far as the music itself goes, we're headed into dark alternative metal territory here which, bar for the closing title track (featuring a piano cameo from Elton John), ranks among the heaviest releases of their career, and the weight of experience clearly hasn't robbed the band of the passion of their early material. Not wholly my thing, but not bad.

ALICE IN CHAINS Dirt

Album · 1992 · Alternative Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
If you remember the 1990s and the alternative music scene of the time, putting on Dirt will instantly take you back there. The production style, performance aesthetic, and general approach of the album is absolutely rooted in the grunge era, and in the hands of a less talented crew this would put the album at risk of becoming seriously dated.

What saves it is that, as well as capturing a zeitgeist perfectly, Alice In Chains also completely burn the house down on Dirt. Mashing up a grunge aesthetic and well-honed alternative metal chops with a doomy approach which ensures the album has plenty to offer more traditional metal fans, the band wheel out classic tune after classic tune. making this perhaps one of the best grunge-metal crossover albums to ever emerge from that brief Seattle-spawned scene.

That said, the album's arguably frontloaded with the best material - Them Bones is an absolute banger - and that classic 1990s grunge production style is laid on thick here. For some, that will make this feel instantly familiar and comfortable, but for other listeners - either those who didn't live through the 1990s when this stuff was everywhere, or those who did and either bounced off it or got sick of it - that'll get old quick.

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