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Alice In Chains

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Alice in Chains is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1987 by Jerry Cantrell and original lead vocalist Layne Staley. Although widely associated with grunge music, the band's sound incorporates heavy metal and acoustic elements. Since its formation, Alice in Chains has released four studio albums, three EPs, two live albums, four compilations, and two DVDs. The band is known for its distinct vocal style which often included the harmonized vocals of Staley and Cantrell.

Alice in Chains rose to international fame as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s, along with other Seattle bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. The band was one of the most successful music acts of the 1990s, selling over 25 million albums worldwide, and over 12 million in the US alone. The band achieved two number-one Billboard 200 albums (Jar of Flies and Alice in Chains), 14 top ten songs on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and eight Grammy Award nominations.

Although never officially disbanding, Alice in Chains was plagued by extended inactivity due to substance abuse, culminating in the death of Layne Staley in 2002. Alice in Chains reunited in 2005 with new lead vocalist William DuVall and released Black Gives Way to Blue, their first studio album in 14 years, on September 29, 2009. The album was a success, being certified gold by the RIAA in March 2010.

Although Alice in Chains has been labeled grunge by the mainstream media, fans and critics alike have disdained the grunge label and have felt the grunge label is innaccurate. Jerry Cantrell identifies the band as primarily heavy metal. He told Guitar World in 1996; "We're a lot of different things... I don't quite know what the mixture is, but there's definitely metal, blues, rock and roll, maybe a touch of punk. The metal part will never leave, and I never want it to".

Jerry Cantrell's guitar style combines what Stephen Erlewine of Allmusic called "pummeling riffs and expansive guitar textures" to create "slow, brooding minor-key grinds". While down-tuned distorted guitars mixed with Staley's distinctive "snarl-to-a-scream" vocals appealed to heavy metal fans, the band also had "a sense of melody that was undeniable", which introduced Alice in Chains to a much wider pop audience outside of the heavy metal underground.

The band has been described by critics as "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". Three of the band's releases feature all acoustic music, and while the band initially kept these releases separate, Alice in Chains' self-titled album combined the styles to form "a bleak, nihilistic sound that balanced grinding hard rock with subtly textured acoustic numbers".

Alice in Chains is also noted for the unique vocal harmonies of Staley and Cantrell, which included overlapping passages, and dual lead vocals. Alyssa Burrows said the band's distinctive sound "came from Staley's vocal style and his lyrics dealing with personal struggles and addiction". Staley's songs were often considered "dark", with themes such as drug abuse, depression, and suicide, while Cantrell's lyrics dealt more with personal relationships.

Alice in Chains has sold more than 16 million albums in the United States, and around 25 million worldwide, released two number-one albums and 21 top 40 singles, and has received seven Grammy nominations. The band was ranked number 34 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Alice in Chains was named 15th greatest live band by Hit Parader, with vocalist Layne Staley placing as 27th greatest vocalist of all time. The band's second album, Dirt, was named 5th best album in the last two decades by Close-Up magazine. In August 2009, Alice in Chains won the Kerrang! Icon Award.

Alice in Chains has had a large impact on many bands, such as Godsmack, who, according to Jon Wiederhorn of MTV, "have sonically followed Alice in Chains' lead while adding their own distinctive edge". Godsmack singer and founder Sully Erna has also cited Layne Staley as his primary influence. Staind has covered Alice in Chains' song "Nutshell" live and also wrote a song entitled "Layne", in Staley's dedication. Three Days Grace also performs a cover of "Rooster". Other bands that have been inspired by Alice in Chains include Creed, Nickelback, Taproot, Puddle of Mudd, Godsmack, Smile Empty Soul, Avenged Sevenfold, Cold, Hurt, Days of the New and Tantric. Metallica said they've always wanted to tour with the band, citing Alice in Chains as a major inspiration for their 2008 release, Death Magnetic. Metallica also recorded "Shine" as a tribute to Layne Staley, but the song was left off Death Magnetic due to manufacturing restrictions.

Alice in Chains has also had a significant influence on modern heavy metal. Their songs were covered by various metal bands such as Opeth, Dream Theater, Suicide Silence and Grave. Pantera and Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell expressed his admiration for Jerry Cantrell's guitar work in an interview for Guitar International saying that "the layering and the honest feel that Jerry Cantrell gets on [Alice in Chains' Dirt] record is worth a lot more than someone who plays five million notes". Anders Frid´┐Żn of Swedish melodic death metal band In Flames cited Layne Staley as an inspiration for his vocals on the band's later albums. In addition to fellow musicians, the band has also received praise from critics, with Steve Huey of Allmusic calling them "one of the best metal bands of the '90s" upon reviewing the 1999 compilation Nothing Safe.
 

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