One of the widely regarded rock bands of all time, Alice in Chains has always managed to give its audience a musical feast, running from one success to another. So, we have gathered all Alice in Chains albums ranked to take a short glimpse at the band’s successful career and some reviews they have received.
Formed in 1987, Alice in Chains started gaining regard as the rock band kept catching so much success with its following albums, even though it has remained chiefly inactive throughout its ongoing career. The famous rock band became prominent, along with other famous bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, as a part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s. And ever since the band debuted with Facelift in 1990, it has kept growing its fanbase and receiving critical acclaim with the efforts they have released so far.
Alice in Chains has gained huge regard with its special vocal style, which is often harmonized between Staley and Cantrell while also incorporating heavy metal music’s elements; it achieved so many successes, releasing 6 studio albums, 3 EPs, three live albums, five compilations, 2 DVDs, 44 music videos, and 32 singles, so far. So, let’s take a glimpse at those albums the band released along with seeing some of their reviews, as well.
Every Alice in Chains Albums Ranked In Order
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
- Released: May 28, 2013
Back in 2013, Alice in Chains sure made a quite impressive comeback with its fifth studio album, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, although there had also been lots of troubles on their way as the band had to delay the anticipated album several times. But still, nothing could hold them from reaching top places on charts all around the world as the album was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical in 2013. The album peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200 chart as well as number 1 on the Top Rock Albums chart, while it was mostly received well alongside some mixed reviews by music critics.
Even though Alice in Chains showcased their strong presence after their hiatus, the album was seemingly suffered by the band’s usual passion as they seemed in rush for delivering some goods for fans, while Rolling Stone expressed mixed reviews similarly, writing:
“It’s the band’s second LP since the 2002 death of singer Layne Staley, and though new vocalist William DuVall doesn’t have his predecessor’s talent for shaping Seattle sludge into molten-dread anthems, founder Jerry Cantrell’s expressively torpid guitar steps up to become its own kind of lead voice, chugging mordantly on ‘Hollow’ and wailing like My Bloody Valentine on ‘Pretty Done.'”
- Released: August 24, 2018
The sixth and latest studio album of Alice in Chains, Rainier Fog came along at the time showcasing the band’s increased appetite for their music compared to their previous album. While featuring William DuVall sharing lead vocals with Jerry Cantrell for the third time, the album was also the first Alice in Chains album in 22 years to be recorded in their hometown of Seattle as it is also a tribute to the Seattle music scene, as well.
Debuting at number 12 on the Billboard 200 chart, Rainier Fog also reached on top on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums, Alternative Albums, and Hard Rock Albums charts. The album also made Alice in Chains get into the top 10 in the UK for the first time, peaking at number 9. Alice in Chains was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album in 2019 for the album and won a 2018 Metal Storm Award for Best Alternative Metal Album, while receiving mostly positive reviews from critics, as well. But still, the album was also received some mixed reviews for sticking in the past to recapture their heyday, while it could also be seen as promising for the future of the band. AltWire wrote that the album “has a little bit of everything that makes this band one of the most influential rock acts of the past 30 years. Jerry Cantrell proves once again why he is one of the most underrated guitarists of our time with some excellent soloing that ranks amongst his best work.”
Alice in Chains
- Released: November 7, 1995
The self-titled third studio album of Alice in Chains was the follow-up to the band’s highly successful previous album, Dirt, although it didn’t bring the band as much success for its release at the end. No matter how good the album is, it has always been overshadowed by the band’s other releases as it showcases a sound relying more on melody and texturally varied arrangements rather than metallic riffs, which are also heard mostly down-tuned and atonal. Accompanying its sound, the album mostly focuses on heavy topics such as depression, isolation, drug use, relationships, anger, and death, along with a darker theme.
But even though the album wasn’t as successful as its previous one, it still peaked at number one on the Billboard 200, guarding its possession on the chart for 46 weeks. The self-titled third album of Alice in Chains also made the band for the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1996 and 1997, respectively as also its music video for “Again” was nominated for Best Hard Rock Video at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards, as well, although none of the nominations couldn’t be won.
While the third album of Alice in Chains was mostly received positive reviews, Ground Control Magazine wrote:
“If indeed Jar of Flies turned out to be the gateway that got so many more people hooked on Alice in Chains, it can only be said that the band’s self-titled album implies withdrawals or a sense of significant unease or discomfort. The signs that something is just not right appear everywhere both on and in Alice in Chains; the front cover features a photo of a three-legged dog (one too few) while the back cover presents a picture of a three-legged mandolinist (one too many). The album’s liner notes feature images of ghastly, contorted fairies with no flesh on their arms, sinister, personified bottles swimming through black oceans, cartoons of mutant animals standing on trial, synthetic limbs, and more. They are images of turmoil, disease, and discomfort, and it’s difficult to look at them.”
- Released: August 21, 1990
The debut album of Alice in Chains, Facelift, has sure become one the greatest albums of all time, as it was also the first grunge movement that could reach the top 50 in America on the Billboard 200 as well as being certified platinum for the first time, too. Yet, not only those successes the album brought to Alice in Chains, but it also gathered everyone’s regard as it still grows with even young generations, as well as other regarded artists as Ozzy Osbourne also named the album as one of his favorite metal albums, as well. Facelift peaked at number 42 on the Billboard 200 chart, while it also made Alice in Chains nominated for a Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal of 1992’s Grammy Award for the track “Man in the Box,” which song was also nominated for Best Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Video at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, too.
Among mostly positives reviews, AllMusic wrote about the debut album of Alice in Chains that:
“Although some parts of Facelift sink into turgid, ponderous bombast (particularly over the erratic second half), and the lyrics are sometimes immature, the overall effect is fresh, exciting, and powerful. While Alice in Chains would go on to do better and more consistent work, Facelift was one of the most important records in establishing an audience for grunge and alternative rock among hard rock and heavy metal listeners, and with its platinum sales certification, it also made Alice in Chains the first Seattle band to break through to a wider, less exclusively underground audience.”
Black Gives Way to Blue
- Released: September 29, 2009
The fourth studio album of Alice in Chains, Black Gives Way to Blue, was the band’s first album with their new vocalist and rhythm guitarist William DuVall sharing vocal duties with lead guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell after their original lead singer Layne Staley had died in 2002. So, the album is also the longest hiatus Alice in Chains gave between studio albums throughout its career, while also its title track is a tribute to their former singer Staley as it also features Elton John on piano. Black Gives Way to Blue provided fans much heavier and harder music style as the band was also seen returning to its heavy metal roots along with being accompanied by some acoustic elements, too.
While the album was received positive reviews, AllMusic criticized the album, writing:
“To everybody’s credit, Black Gives Way to Blue sounds like it could have been delivered a year after Alice in Chains: it’s unconcerned with fashion; it’s true to their dark, churning gloom rock; and if you’re not paying attention too closely, it’s easy to mistake DuVall for his predecessor. There’s a difference between desperately attempting to recapture past glories and reconnecting with their roots, and Alice in Chains fall into the latter category. While they’ll never be mistaken for a feel-good band, there is a palpable sense of relief that they get to play together again as a band, and what’s remarkable is that they still sound like themselves, capturing that weird murk halfway between ’80s metal and ’90s northwestern sludge, reminding us that we were missing something in their absence.”
- Released: September 29, 1992
Even though there might have been some disagreements above the list, we are most likely at the best option we could be for the top of this list. The second studio album of Alice in Chains has been gaining high regard and acclaim ever since it was released by both fans and music critics. Selling over 5 million copies worldwide, Dirt has also become the band’s highest-selling album as it was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance and an MTV Video Music Award for Best Video from a Film for its music video for “Would?”, which was featured on Cameron Crowe’s 1992 film “Singles” soundtrack.
While it is also the band’s last album recorded with all four original members of Alice in Chains, Dirt has been credited as the band’s best album by many fans and critics, as well. It was received critical acclaim and often considered as one of the most influential albums to the sludge metal subgenre while focusing on depression, pain, anger, anti-social behavior, relationships, drug addiction, and many more emotionally charged topics on its lyrics as its music incorporates hardcore punk and doom metal elements.
Among many other positive reviews, critic Steve Huey described Alice in Chains best album Dirt as “monstrously bleak, closely resembling the cracked,” and said:
“The album holds out little hope for its protagonists (aside from the much-needed survival story of “Rooster,” a tribute to Cantrell’s Vietnam-vet father), but in the end, it’s redeemed by the honesty of its self-revelation and the sharp focus of its music. [Some versions of Dirt feature “Down in a Hole” as the next-to-last track rather than the fourth.”