[[caption-width-right:308:L-R: Sean Kinney, Jerry Cantrell, Layne Staley, Mike Inez]]
+ Music/{{Metallica}}, Music/BlackSabbath, Music/VanHalen, Music/BlueOysterCult, Music/LedZeppelin, Music/AliceCooper, Music/{{Budgie}}, Music/{{Motorhead}}, Music/{{SexPistols}}, Music/ThePixies, Music/IronMaiden, Music/{{MercyfulFate}}, Music/TheMisfits, Music/{{Melvins}}
Related Acts:
+Mad Season
+Alice N' Chainz

A {{grunge}} / [[HeavyMetal metal]] band from Seattle, Washington. Alice in Chains was one of the biggest acts of the early '90s. Founded in 1987 by frontman Layne Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell, they are most known for their dark, gloomy sound and vocal harmonies between Staley and Cantrell. They were arguably the first band of the grunge scene to achieve commercial success with their debut album ''Facelift''. During this time their anthemic hit "Man in the Box" received significant play on MTV's ''Series/HeadbangersBall'' block, giving them an audience among metal fans. Their next release was an acoustic EP called ''Sap'', probably best known for the song "Got Me Wrong," which was featured in ''Film/{{Clerks}}''.

Their follow up full-length album, ''Dirt'', was released in 1992, and became a success with the mainstream audience, due in part to Music/{{Nirvana}}'s release of ''Music/{{Nevermind}}'' and the breakout of grunge. They released another acoustic EP in 1994, titled ''Jar of Flies'', which quickly topped the ''Billboard 200'' charts making it the first ever EP to reach the number one spot (and remained the only EP to gain this distinction until Music/LinkinPark released ''Collision Course'' with Music/JayZ in 2004.) One year later they released their self-titled final studio album which reached number one again, and is often considered the last album of the grunge era.

The group's self-titled 1995 album came around the same time that Layne Staley's heroin addiction began to overwhelm the singer and caused tension within the band. By 1996, the group disbanded and Cantrell released a solo album, ''Boggy Depot''. In 1999, the group reunited to produce a greatest hits album/box set with several new songs. Despite teasing a full-on reunion, Staley's heroin addiction culminated in him dying from an overdose in early April 2002. Staley's corpse would not be discovered until two weeks later (April 20, 2002 - according to coroners, he actually died on 5th of April, ironically on the eight year anniversary of the death of fellow grunge singer, Music/KurtCobain's death). After Staley's death, Alice in Chains officially disbanded.

Even after his death, Layne Staley remains a major inspiration for many artists today, with many singers such as Sully Erna of Music/{{Godsmack}} (the band claims that their name is not a reference to the AIC song[[note]]despite the fact they started off as an [=AiC=] cover band[[/note]] of the same name, but even if it's genuinely not, the connection is hard to avoid making), Aaron Lewis of Music/{{Staind}}, and Chester Bennington of Music/LinkinPark citing him as a major influence. In addition, Jerry Cantrell's second solo album, ''Degradation Trip'' and Music/{{Metallica}}'s ''Death Magnetic'' were both dedicated to him.

The band reformed in 2005 for a tsunami benefit concert and began touring with a number of guest vocalists, including [[Music/{{Pantera}} Phil Anselmo]], [[Music/{{Tool}} Maynard James Keenan]], [[Music/{{Metallica}} James Hetfield]], [[Music/LinkinPark Chester Bennington]], [[Music/SkidRow Sebastian Bach]], and [[Music/{{Heart}} Ann Wilson]]. They chose William [=DuVall=] as their official new vocalist in 2006 and released their first new album in 14 years, ''Black Gives Way to Blue'', in September of 2009. The album peaked at #5 on the Billboard chart and has sold in excess of 500,000 copies.

On the 8th of March 2011, the band suffered its second AuthorExistenceFailure when former bassist Mike Starr was found dead in Salt Lake City.

Their fifth album, ''The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here'', was released May 28, 2013. By its second day, it reached #1 on the iTunes' rock album chart. They are currently close to finishing an as-of-yet untitled sixth album. Even over a decade and a half since the untimely demise of one of their most established members, the band continues their stride and stands strong.

* William [=DuVall=] - vocals, guitar
* Jerry Cantrell - vocals, guitar
* Mike Inez - Bass
* Sean Kinney - Drums

'''Former Members:'''
* Layne Staley - vocals, guitar 1987-2002
* Mike Starr - bass, 1987-1993

In addition to several demos, compilations and live albums, the band has released the following:
* 1990 - ''Facelift''
* 1992 - ''Sap''
* 1992 - ''Dirt''
* 1994 - ''Jar of Flies''
* 1995 - ''Alice in Chains''
* 2009 - ''Black Gives Way to Blue''
* 2013 - ''The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here''

See also [[Creator/JerryCantrell Jerry Cantrell's solo work]]
!!"Gonna end up a big ole page of them tropes":

* AteHisGun: "Dirt" mentions this. [[{{Squick}} And scraping brains from the walls]].
* BadassBoast: comparatively rare in their lyrics compared to some metal bands, but still there:
** From "Last of my Kind" : " A wolf alone upon the hillside / I live on what they throw away/ I go to sleep behind the 8 ball/ i live to fight for one more day"
** And "Phantom Limb": " My regrets are many, true.../ Still so much worse lies ahead.... for you!
* BerserkButton: Making fun of his addiction was a surefire way to make Layne Staley extremely angry. When ''The Rocket'' (a now-defunct Seattle-area music 'zine) wrote an article on the retirement of Alice in Chains' longtime manager that included the words "But who's to wipe and change Alice in Chains now?", Layne evidently took great umbrage to this and sent them [[{{Squick}} a jar of urine and a bag of human feces]] with an attached note that read "Wipe and change this, motherfuckers!".
* BigRockEnding: A particularly disturbing variety in "Head Creeps". Kinney's drum fills become chaotic, slowing down behind the guitar's dissonant squeals. "Hate to Feel" has a similar ending.
* {{Bowdlerise}}: In the radio and video edit versions of "Man in the Box," the word "shit" is censored and rewritten in the lyrics, so that they say "Buried in my ''pit''" in the first verse, and "Shove my nose in ''spit''" in the second verse. Ironic, as the song is about censorship.
** At least the above example tries to make some sense. There's another hilariously bad radio edit where the aforementioned curse words are just edited in reverse instead of actual words. Staley's upward inflections in the words are also reversed [[AcCENTUponTheWrongSylLABle and it sounds very off]].
* BreakupSong: "Down in a Hole" was Cantrell's way of admitting to his long-time girlfriend that the life he had chosen as a member of a major touring act was simply not something that would allow him to maintain the relationship.
%% ** "Over Now" was also this.
* CarefulWithThatAxe: Layne's screams at the beginning of "Them Bones" and one in the middle of "Sickman."
* ConceptAlbum: The eponymous album; with the exception of three of the singles, every song on it was written by Layne Staley about addiction. To a lesser extent, ''Dirt'', as many of the lyrics are in some way about a gloomy topic like death, depression or addiction ("Rooster", which is about Jerry's father's experiences in Vietnam, and "Down in a Hole" about a failed relationship are both depressing enough to qualify; "Dam That River", which was about an incident where Cantrell and Kinney got into a fight that ended with the latter smashing the former over the head with a coffee table, may be the lightest song lyrically, and that's if you don't interpret it as having a DualMeaningChorus about Gary Ridgway dumping his kills in the Green River).
* DarkerAndEdgier / LighterAndSofter: In the Staley era, their studio albums is the former and their [=EPs=] are the latter. Their full-length [=LPs=] are all heavy metal albums that become gradually heavier; their debut ''Facelift'' is heavy, but still very glam-inspired. ''Dirt'' is much darker and heavier than the previous album, and the self-titled album is by far the heaviest of the lot. In between those three albums are the two acoustic [=EPs=], ''Sap'' and ''Jar of Flies'', which are more folksy and blues-inspired than the metal albums.
** Of course, the [=EPs=] are ''only'' light and soft as far as [=AiC=] music is concerned; compared to any other acoustic record, the two are still as heavy and dark in their own right as is possible for acoustic songs.
** Strangely, ''Facelift'' alone manages to fit this description. The first half, "We Die Young" through "Love, Hate, Love", is the dark and heavy style familiar to [=AiC=] fans that was kept for their following albums. The second half, "It Ain't Like That" through "Real Thing", has an extremely noticeable glam sound left over from their predecessors Alice N Chainz[[note]]Of course, the A-side still has a bit of glam in it; even "We Die Young"[[/note]].
** Its also visible in the lyrics depending on which member is writing them. Layne's lyrics were by far the darkest, often being about hopelessness, depression, and suicide. Jerry's tend to be more about failed relationships and introspection. Duvall's, while not lighthearted by any stretch, seem to be more standard metal lyrics, full of BadassBoasts and the like.
* {{Determinator}}: Kinney almost didn't play on ''Facelift'' because he had broken his hand; Greg Gilmore of Mother Love Bone was slated to do session drums for the album. The producer felt that it wouldn't be the same without Kinney, however, and so Kinney wound up taking his cast off and recording drums with a broken hand, a bucket of ice by his side at all times for whenever the pain became unbearable.
* DoomMetal: They could be seen as a more {{alternative|Metal}} take on the genre, especially in ''Dirt'' and ''Alice in Chains'', given the slow tempos, heavy {{Epic Riff}}s and serious subject matter. Though select songs such as "Hate to Feel" can be considered straight-up doom.
** SludgeMetal: Starting with ''Dirt'', strengthening in ''Alice In Chains'', and now this is their default metal style upon their revival (listen to "Lab Monkey" or "Acid Bubble").
* DrugsAreBad: Very, ''very'' bad; many of their songs, especially on ''Dirt'', are about drugs' destructive influence and the pain they've caused.
* DualMeaningChorus: There are multiple theories on the meaning of the chorus in "Would?" and also several regarding "Dam That River"; the latter is definitely referring to the uncontrolled bleeding from a head wound that Sean Kinney gave Jerry Cantrell after he smashed him over the head with a coffee table (confirmed by WordOfGod), but it could very well be referring to Gary Ridgway's habit of dumping the bodies of his victims in the Green River as well.
** "God Am" has ''three'' potential meanings. Its obviously a pun on the word "goddamn", but it also refers to the well known name of God which is often translated as "I Am". It could also be construed as a way of emphasizing the idea of God being far beyond human understanding, using broken English like a small child might.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: While ''Facelift'' had all of the standard Alice in Chains elements firmly in place, it also had ''extremely'' prominent glam influences from their earlier days. The lyrical content was way different too, slightly more standard to what you'd expect from a mainstream metal band at the time.
** Pre-Facelift demo songs like "I Can't Have You Blues" and "Social Parasite" are perfect examples of 1980s glam-metal era [=AiC=].
* EpicRocking: They have several songs between six and eight minutes long. The only song over eight minutes is "Frogs" at 8:18.
* EtTuBrute: "Again".
-->''Hey, let them do it again, yeah''\\
''Hey, you said you were my friend''\\
''Hey, turn me upside down, Oh''\\
''Hey, feelin' so down.''
* FakeOutFadeOut: "Rain When I Die" does this.
* GenreBusting: Have incorporated influences ranging from DoomMetal, {{Grunge}}, AlternativeRock, HardRock, HardcorePunk, {{Blues}}, and even CountryMusic into their sound at various points. AlternativeMetal is really the only genre label that is relatively uncontroversial when describing them.
* GoneHorriblyRight: After his parents' divorce, Layne became convinced that his father would return if he became a celebrity. Fast-forward 15 years, Layne is a famous rock star, his father does get in contact with him...and then ''both'' of them fell into heroin abuse.
* GriefSong: "Get Born Again", "Would?" and "Died". And especially "Over Now." And a good portion of ''Black Gives Way to Blue'', especially the title song.
* HairMetal: Started out as this, as some 1980s demos will demonstrate; while they obviously shed all traces of it later on, there were still some very noticeable traces left over from that era on ''Facelift'', particularly on the second half.
* ImportantHaircut: About the same time Layne began using heroin, he cut off his signature dreadlocks.
* InNameOnly: To no one's surprise, there are some that categorically refuse to accept the "new" Alice in Chains, deriding [=DuVall=]'s voice and songwriting talents as less than Staley's before the album was released. Even though Cantrell has done most of the singing since that album.
* LoudnessWar: Both ''Black Gives Way to Blue'' and ''The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here'' are extremely loud in comparison to the Staley-era albums.
* LyricalDissonance:
** "No Excuses" sounds like an upbeat song, but it's actually about Layne's addiction alienating him from the band.
** "Real Thing", the closing track of ''Facelift'', is about a drug user[[note]]not Staley's; ''Facelift'' was recorded before his heroin addiction, and the song makes subtle references to cocaine being the drug in question[[/note]] who rejects his friends' concern for help. Just like other songs on the last half of ''Facelift'', the song is very glam-metal inspired despite the gloomy lyrics.
** "Check My Brain" has a very upbeat and poppy chorus where Jerry (a former addict) wonders why the hell he ever moved to an environment like Los Angeles.
* MadnessMantra: "Love Song."
* MeaningfulEcho: A {{t|earJerker}}ragic, RealLife one. In his last interview, Staley essentially said goodbye to the world and talked about how he wished his life ended differently.
-->This fucking drug use is like the insulin a diabetic needs to survive. I'm not using drugs to get high like many people think. I know I made a big mistake when I started using this shit. It's a very difficult thing to explain. My liver is not functioning and [[{{Squick}} I'm throwing up all the time and shitting my pants.]] The pain is more than you can handle. It's the worst pain in the world. Dope sick hurts the entire body. [...] I know I'm near death, I did crack and heroin for years. I never wanted to end my life this way. I know I have no chance. It's too late. I never wanted [the public's] thumbs' up about this fucking drug use. Don't try to contact any AIC (Alice in Chains) members. They are not my friends.
** Now, read the lyrics to "Would?" and [[http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0821655/bio#quotes this]].
* MetalScream:
** Sometimes used really effectively by Layne.
--->''Heeeeeeere, here comes the rooster,''\\
''AH YEAH!''\\
** [[Music/{{Slayer}} Tom Araya]] provides one in his guest appearance on "Iron Gland."
* MohsScaleOfLyricalHardness: They are masters of depressive, hopeless lyrics. While they rarely have gory lyrics and aren't ''too'' bad with profanity, the sheer despair that their lyrics give off keep them firmly in the 8 - 10 range. A few songs on ''Facelift'' and ''Jar of Flies'' are in the 5 - 6 range though. Their Alice 'N Chainz material was about 3-5.
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: Their heavier material is generally in the 6 to 8 range. Their acoustic material, meanwhile, is in the 2 to 4 range.
* MurderBallad: "Dam That River", ''maybe''. It was definitely about Cantrell and Kinney getting into a fight that resulted in Kinney getting so angry that he picked up a coffee table and smashed Cantrell over the head with it, and the song was Cantrell's middle finger to Kinney in regard to that chain of events. A few may interpret it as having a dual meaning as a song about Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, who was still active and at large at the time that the song was written and had racked up an immense body count in the King County area.
** "Love, Hate, Love" is absolutely about a serial killer however. The lyrics wouldn't be out of place in a Slayer song.
* NewSoundAlbum: ''Dirt'' sounds ''very'' different from ''Facelift'', having a more DoomMetal sound and completely excising all of the last vestiges of their GlamMetal days. ''Alice In Chains'' also sounded very different from ''Dirt'', having a more psychedelic influence, and the heavier songs being more SludgeMetal than straight doom metal. Naturally, after a long {{Hiatus}}, ''Black Gives Way to Blue'' also sounds unique from its predecessors. The trope was finally averted by ''The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here'', which, while still sounding distinct and having its own voice, was just a natural streamlined progression from ''Black Gives Way to Blue''.
* PunctuatedForEmphasis: '''"IF! I! WOULD! COULD! YOU!"'''
* ReligionRantSong: "Bleed the Freak", "Get Born Again" and "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here".
* ShellShockedVeteran: "Rooster" is about Jerry Cantrell's father's harrowing experiences during UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar. [[note]]The song's title comes from his father's lifelong nickname, as per WordOfGod. Fan theories include ideas that the 101st Airborne Division in which he served had a bald eagle in their insignia, and since bald eagles are unknown in Vietnam, the Vietnamese called them "chicken men".[[/note]]
* SignatureStyle: Largely slower-paced material with a distinctly metallic bent, heavy usage of odd time signatures, relatively simple leadwork that involves large amounts of wah, and an extremely heavy focus on eerie vocal harmonies and tradeoffs. Jerry's riffing also tends to involve relatively unconventional usage of bends to create an uneasy, disorienting feel ("It Ain't Like That" and "Check My Brain" being good examples).
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: They were ''relentlessly'' cynical during the Layne Staley years. The William [=DuVall=] albums, though by no means idealistic, are much more optimistic.
* SopranoAndGravel: Their characteristic harmonies, usually with Layne/William having the strangled nasal whine and Jerry the smoother tone, though Jerry seems to do the nasal every once in a while. Also Ann Wilson, Chris Cornell and Mark Arm's contributions to ''Sap''.
* SpellMyNameWithAnS: In their glam days, was Alice 'N Chains spelled with an S or a Z? It doesn't help that Layne was inconsistent about it on their fliers.
* SpiritualSuccessor:
** Jerry's solo albums ''Boggy Depot'' and ''Degradation Trip'' are considered to be continuations of the Layne Staley era, "Degradation Trip'' specifically being one to ''Dirt''
** The Song "Private Hell" is generally considered to be this to "Down In A Hole". "Private Hell" in turn has its own spiritual successor in the form of "Choke" on the next album.
* StepUpToTheMicrophone: Drummer Sean Kinney sings lead vocals (actually just yelling random stuff into a megaphone) on "Love Song" from the ''Sap'' EP. In fact, all the band members switch instruments on that track. There's also old camcorder footage of them screwing around in their rehearsal space once, with Staley playing a very basic kick-snare-kick-snare beat and Kinney rolling around on the ground shrieking. They captioned it with a scroll which read: WARNING - SINGER DRUMMING, DRUMMER SINGING
* SurrealMusicVideo:
** From the Staley era: "We Die Young," "Angry Chair," "I Stay Away," and "Grind."
** From the [=DuVall=] era (so far): "Lesson Learned" and "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here."
* TechnicianVersusPerformer: Present in the original lineup, as Cantrell had some knowledge of theory and had actually been choir president in high school and wrote songs in a much more deliberate, involved manner in general, while Staley had little actual musical experience and was more or less completely self-taught, and his few songwriting contributions were often very unconventional in style due to this. Averted with the current lineup, as [=DuVall=] was a guitar player first and foremost; Cantrell even mentioned how much of a paradigm shift it was.
* TroublingUnchildlikeBehavior: "We Die Young" was inspired by Jerry Cantrell's reaction to watching young children dealing drugs while he was taking the bus to rehearsal after Kinney had kicked him out of their apartment following a fight.
* UncommonTime: Many Cantrell-written tracks use this. "Them Bones" alternates between 7/8 during the verses and 4/4 during the choruses, "Rain When I Die" is written in 7/8, and "Hollow" is 6/4 during the verses and 4/4 during the chorus.
* WordSaladLyrics: "Nothin' Song" is pretty much just nonsensical rambling put to a song, but the outright disjointed strangeness of the lyrics actually helps show you just how deteriorated Layne was becoming at this point.
* {{Yarling}}: "Ahhhhm th' Meeeiin in th' bahks..."