In both past and present, Alice in Chains have managed to garner quite some attention. At the moment of writing, they are close to releasing a new studio album for the first time in almost 14 years. That album, featuring new vocalist William DuVall, who has replaced the late Layne Staley after the long years that passed since the most recent original material on Alice in Chains (1995), has been entitled Black Gives Way to Blue, and is to be released on September 29th. Before that event, however, we will now take the proper time to look back on AiC’s very influential past in the 90’s, and how they managed to become a force in Seattle’s famous grunge scene. Starting this September 22nd, 7 reviews will work their way up to the eventual Black Gives Way to Blue. Because after all, to REALLY know how Alice got to their newest, one would have to know more about their past.
Once Upon a Time in Seattle...
Alice’s tale starts with vocalist Layne Staley. When his band Sleeze fell into demise in ’86, Staley formed Alice N’ Chainz, a speed metal act. They started playing around the Seattle area, performing covers of Slayer and Armored Saint. This all changed, however, when guitarist Jerry Cantrell ended up as Staley’s roommate, and was invited by him to join a newly formed funk rock band of his. In turn, Staley would join Cantrell’s project Diamond Lie, which already consisted of him, bassist Mike Starr and drummer Sean Kinney. When Staley’s funk band afterwards broke up in ’87, he permanently joined Diamond Lie, but eventually, their name was changed to Alice in Chains.
We Die Young
The band was discovered by Columbia Records, and were able to release a three-song debut EP, We Die Young, in the summer of 1990. Two of its tracks, the title cut and It Ain’t Like That would be re-appearing on their full-length debut Facelift about a month later.
We Die Young’s Alice in Chains was:
- Layne Thomas Staley (R.I.P.) ~ Lead Vocals
- Jerry Fulton Cantrell ~ Lead Guitar, Vocals
- Michael Christopher Starr ~ Bass Guitar
- Sean Howard Kinney ~ Drums, Percussion
The material found here is a good indication of what early Alice in Chains was like, and a stepping stone for things to come. The title track is a very dark metal song that punches you right in the face, and especially Staley stands out, because of some very demonic and powerful wails behind the mic. It is short, it is effective, and it is most of all showing what Alice was capable of.
It Ain’t Like That effectively changes things around and slows the pace down, but still it remains as dark and captivating as its heavier-hitting predecessor. The track is heavy, but more so in a moody way(something Alice In Chains would be showing a lot in the future), and built upon a doomy, Sabbath-esque guitar section that creates a drowning feel..
The last and least impressive track is Killing Yourself, unsurprisingly the one that didn’t make Facelift. It feels more of a repetition of the title track, but then without the power that makes the latter so effective. Nevertheless, it still showcases that typical early sound of the band, and remains a fitting contribution to the first glance we ever got of Alice in Chains.
Because as most will know, Alice went on to achieve greater things, and this was just a good start. An enjoyable EP, that still will be wanted only by the most diehard collectors, as 2/3 of the material would be reappearing on Facelift.
I always thought that Alice N' Chainz was more of a hair metal act but, I could be wrong. Anyway, on a different note, I once read/saw that Buzz Osborne of Melvins fame said if he could go back in time and do one thing, it would be to kill Alice in Chains.
I always thought that Alice N' Chainz was more of a hair metal act but, I could be wrong
But yeah, I have this on a really, really old cassette, I must have been about six when my dad acquired it. I credit the song We Die Young almost solely for getting me into some really kickass music.
The track is heavy rather in a moody way, something we would get to see a lot still from Alice, and is built upon a very doomy, Sabbath-esque guitar section that creates a drowning feel.
into something like this: The track is heavy in a rather moody way (something Alice In Chains will exhibit a lot in the future), and is built upon a doomy, Sabbath-esque guitar section that creates a drowning feel.. Otherwise, good job, sorry to nitpick.
Also, haha, I love it how the first paragaph is a perfect excuse, just so you could write about another discorgraphy again. You maniac!