Usually abbreviated AIC, Alice in Chains is an American rock band that was formed in Seattle, Washington, United States, in the year 1987. The band consists of drummer Sean Kinney, bassist Mike Starr, lead vocalist Layne Staley and vocalist and guitarist Jerry Cantrell. Since then, they’ve had a few members leave or pass away, but even so, they have been producing music that is distinctly theirs since the start. They are a part of Columbia, Virgin, EMI, Capitol and BMG labels.
Alice in Chains had a wide variety of influences and a unique sound, one that is usually associated with the grunge movement. The band incorporates heavy metal elements that give them their distinct sound and helps them stand out among the rest of the artists in the genre. The band has a unique vocal style that helped propel them to stardom, including the harmonization that isn’t commonly found in the genre. The group was informed by a variety of genres, including rock and roll, blues, metal and a bit of punk according to Cantrell, who also said Black Sabbath was one of his most prominent inspirations. These influence are all clear to hear in their music.
Groups like AC/DC, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Scorpions, Thin Lizzy, Van Halen, U2 and others influenced their sound. In return, bands including Braking Benjamin, Avenged Sevenfold, Incubus, Korn, Smile Empty Soul, Stone Sour and Theory of a Deadman all claimed to have been influenced by the famous group. Through this, it is clear how much of an impact Alice in Chains made on the genre and the rock music industry as a whole.
There are many inspirations that make their music stand out in the genre. As a unique part of the grunge movement in the early 90s, Alice in Chains grew in popularity and international fame alongside other famous groups such as Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Since the band’s formation, they have sold more than 30 million records around the world with more than 14 million of those being in the United States. They even had 18 of their songs make it to the Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart, a feat for their genre. Beyond that, they received 11 Grammy nominations and were even recognized by VH1 as number 34 in their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.
Even though they’ve been technically inactive since the mid-nineties, they are still an influential and relevant group today. Biographies have been written about them, and their Claymation dolls still exist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to commemorate them. All of their studio albums including Facelift, Dirt, Alice in Chains, Black Gives Way to Blue, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here and Rainier Fog still receive frequent play today, marking them as not only one of the most influential but one of the longest-lasting grunge metal groups to have ever existed.