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Diamond Alice in Chains

diamondlie.jpegI figure today's article will have a lot of people hot and bothered, but a little controversy is good for the first day of May. I have a big statement here: Alice in Chains is not grunge. Nope, they are straight up heavy metal and you can even find some Glam influences if you look hard enough.

It's true!

Fact: Dirt is one of the best rock albums ever recorded.

Fact: Alice in Chains Unplugged is the best of the entire MTV series. 

Fact: Bassist Mike Inez had (has?) his feet on solid Glam ground.

Fact: Alice in Chains STARTED as the Glam band Diamond Lie. Ha! 

As a matter of fact, here's a quote from a press kit I found online pimping Diamond Lie:

"Taking center stage for DIAMOND LIE is the energetic and electrifying [vocalist] Layne. Layne's experience with various groups of various styles has given him quite a range of vocal capabilities; from the speed metal group SLEZE, to the punchy glam rock of ALICE 'N CHAINS. Layne's versatility and uninhibited stage performance prove him to be a valuable frontman."

Doesn't that make you giggle just a little?

While Nirvana whined and produced monotone choruses, Alice in Chains were creating stadium rock. While Pearl Jam were trying to take down Ticketmaster, Alice in Chains were performing their hits all over the world.

Sure, AIC have their grunge moments - then again, so do Motley Crue. Remember Generation Swine? While Alice in Chains might not sing about chicks and parties, they do more than enough talking about drugs. Sounds like basic rock to me. Yes, Alice gets too sludgy at times...but there are times when this band owns you. My Glam goodness, the beginning of "Would?" is a bass player's fantasy - and Alice in Chains has some damn great guitar solos peppered throughout all their albums.

Do I think Alice in Chains are close to Poison? In a word, no. I do, however, think they share some things in common with Use Your Illusion era Guns n' Roses.  Of course, Axl and company apparently hate Glam and want nothing to do with the genre. I'm sure Layne Staley would also say he hates Glam...except, you know, he's dead. Still, Alice in Chains live on and their catalog of work is damn impressive.

Let's talk about "Would?" a little more. Yeah, the song is dark. It's also hauntingly beautiful and deliciously heavy. Moreover, it's an anthem-like song you'd expect to hear at every AIC concert much like you know Aerosmith will play "Janie's Got a Gun." Just a few lines ago I mentioned guitar solos: "Would?" has a great guitar part -- sounds Glam to me!

Now, to Mike Inez.  He played with Ozzy! He was also a member of Slash's Snakepit. Gee - isn't it ironic that I mentioned AIC were a lot like GnR? Interesting...incidentally, I remember reading about all of this in Metal Edge. That was before the record labels drew a line in the sand and decided fans had to choose which form of Metal they preferred. I still maintain that if the labels had just kept supporting both Glam and Grunge, the music industry today would be a lot different...but that's another article entirely.

I didn't know this, but apparently Inez formed a band with Chris DeGarmo. Yes, that DeGarmo, formally of Queensryche.  Me thinks Mike Inez loves the bands we talk about here every day on Bring Back Glam!

Here's the video for "Would?"  Guitarist Jerry Cantrell is wearing a grunge cap...but again I remind you that Trixter dressed the same way in their video for "Give it to Me Good." Comment me, people!

Reader Comments (43)

Well, Alice in Chains are grunge, because they sound grungy. I'll give you that they are better than Nirvana ( who plain sucked ) and that, like I said with your Cult story, if I like a band, I don't care what the label is, but AiC does not sound like any form of metal to me. I love man in a box, but none of their other songs really grab me especially.
May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
i cannot disagree more. they were grunge, they did have that sound. yes they started out as hair metal but so did pantera. both groups then found their own way. musically i do not hear anything in common with guns n roses at all. and i have to disagree with christian here because i do not feel that nirvana sucked. they were very good but chose to try to turn off a certain segment of their audience after blowing up big. instead of taking a step back (as pearl jam later did) from the madness of the pressures of being a major label star and taking control kurt decided to do something stupid and end it all. suicide doesn't solve anything. i will say that any of these bands music won't appeal to everyone but at some level i like all of them.
May 1, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdon
I hated every single one of those bands..They all thought they were the shit when the glam metal bands were kicked to the curb..Now they can't even sell out a club..I feel no sorrow for any of them..In fact hopefully they will all OD soon or blow their heads off with a shot gun. But now our bands are all back and I couldn't be happier =)
May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
Wow. Guess we know what kind of articles will strike a chord and draw up sides, huh? :)

Joe, personally most of the grunge bands aren't really my cup of tequila either but your statement about hoping they'll all OD or blow their heads off is pretty harsh, man... Straight up, verging on kinda tasteless. Whether you think Kurt Cobain was the new messiah or a whiney junkie that couldn't deal with his own success wishing that kind of stuff - even somewhat in jest - really isn't too cool... And I know you're much cooler than that.

I still vividly remember how the glam/hair metal scene just died when anybody wearing a flannel shirt and singing in a lower key came along... But as a muscian I can appreciate some of the music that was created by some of the "grunge" bands at that point. But you can also look at that whole thing as typical of the record company mentality of "let's pour all our resources into the next big thing." Bands went from singing about good times to how depressed they were and now we have emo-core as the bastard offspring.

Don had a real good point that I'll paraphrase: These bands won't appeal to everyone... Obviously neither will Motley, Hanoi Rocks, Kix, LA Guns, Skid Row, Vain, or any other band that gets talked about here.

Alice was grunge and yeah they did start out as Glam. As pointed out, so did Pantera. Hell, Lit started out as Razzle for crying out loud. Bands either change their image to suit the current trend or members change or times change. Hell, TYR - Tonight You Rock started out as straight out spandex and rhinestone, hardcore Glam to the nth power. (Makeup tips anyone?) Within 2 years we'd dropped the spandex and moved to black denim, leather, studs and spikes. Did that make us into the Village People? Motley Crue circa "Girls"? Sigfried and Roy? NOPE. The music stayed the same. We just stopped using so much hairspray. Tons of bands from our era readily adopted flannel shirts and combat boots where they once used to wear leopard prints and high top reeboks and yeah, they were labled "sell out"... But it's all about chasing the dream, isn't it?

Anyway, now that I've prattled on...

By the way, it's funny that GNR tries to distance themselves from their glam roots. Check out some old pictures of them when they were taking their cues straight out of the Hanoi Rocks playbook. Axl wore more makeup than a lot of people.

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterValentine
Interesting find Allyson.

I had no idea that AIC had glam roots. That is kind of funny.

I always thought that they were one of the better bands of the 90's era of rock. I wish I could have caught them live when Layne Staley was still alive.

Rob Rockitt
Grunge was horrible. I can teach kids entire grunge albums in 1 lesson. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, AIC - Not good bands at all.
May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJ. Lucas
Alice in Chains used to open for Poison, don't forget that.
May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDrCrue
Michael Starr was the bass player AIC Then Mike Inez joined later. Just wanted to pass that along. I think website is great with a ton of great information! I check it out almost everyday.
May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPat Stanton
I agree that AIC was metal... but they were also gurngy, very much so. Glam? Not so much, except for the beginning until they found their niche.

I totally don't get your GNR comparison... seems like a stretch.

The band Mike Inez and Chris DeGarmo formed was called Spys 4 Darwin. Vinnie Dombrowski from Sponge was the singer. I have the CD here -- if you'd like to hear it, email me.

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVince Neilstein
I remember watching something on AIC once and they asked Layne if AIC is a hair band and he said something to the effect of yeah we have great hair. Which is such a glam response.
May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMary
I dunno. I never really thought of them as a band that should have been heaped in with the grunge scene. So many people disagree with me, but I still listen to AIC and hate Nirvana, Pearl Jam, etc. I think AIC was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were so much more talented than the groups they were thrown in with. Hell, VH1 had "Man In The Box" listed in the Top 10 of the Top 40 Metal Videos Of All Time. Hmm...
May 1, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterwrciii
Some more facts....AIC opened for Extreme and also opened for KISS during the first-round of their 1996 reunion dates. In fact, I'm guessing those were some of their last shows together.

AIC doesn't fit some of the glam molds, but think about it, Skid Row's "Slave to the Grind" era didn't sound overly glam-y either. Sounded very sludgy to me.

I got tired of the grunge sound after a while but the previous comment that "Now they can't even sell out a club" isn't really true. Pearl Jam still plays arenas, Dave Grohl has done pretty well with Foo Fighters, and Chris Cornell from Soundgarden had successful stints with Audioslave and can pack a theatre size venue with his solo stuff.
May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
The first AIC album, FACELIFT is Metal. I thought they were a cool band and I always followed them, unlike Nirvana and Peral Jam. I think they got unfairly put into the "grunge" label because they were from Seattle but whatever. Layne killed himself and basically killed a solid band.

Excellent digging on the Diamond Lie angle. I sent the link to a friend of mine who is heavy into alternative/grunge/modren rock and hates glam/hair bands. I can't wait to hear him explain it away. It's kind of like those Pantera "fans" that have no idea they were a "hair" band for their first four records.

Heavy Metal Addiction
I like "Jar of Flies," but most of their electric stuff makes my skin crawl.
May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJT
Personally I think Alice in Chains and Soundgarden were 2 of the best metal bands of the 90s. They were only lumped in with those other bands due to geography.I do love Nirvana and Mudhoney, but Pearl Jam is the absolute bottom of the barrel. The most BORING band ever.Can't beleive they're as sucessful as they are. Don't wanna come off as a jerk, but they just plain suck!
May 1, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterpete
C'mon people lets quit this I hate this and I hate that and these guys suck and these guys don't talk. The bottom line here is that all these people that have been mentioned above have been blessed with the gift of making music whatever form it maybe. This was their art and they were accptionally well at it the only thing that let most of them down was their inability to deal with the fame that came with their prized possession.
May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBillyKiss
I LOVE alice in chains I HATE grunge. i totally agree with you. While i don't think they are 'glam' i do think they are straight up metal. same as soundgarden. depressing they may have been, they were a great band.

My mom's fave band is Pearl Jam. they're ok. so boring though.
May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChey
Thru the years, AIC evolved. Labels suck, but I suppose you could say they started out as glam, evolved into metal, and that evolved into grunge.

In April/May of 1991, Headbanger's Ball world debuted the 'Man In The Box' video by some unknown band called Alice In Chains. I'm still not sure what about it grabbed me, but I went out the next weekend to the record store and bought Facelift...complete with Parental Advisory sticker on it (a big deal back then!). I was 15. 2 months later, I had learned the album, and then was notified that there was a free show in Indianapolis, and that that same no-named band was opening up for Anthrax, Megadeath, and Slayer. That was my first metal show. It was *awesome*. Staley had just cut his hair. The drummer was playing this purple drum set that look liked it could have been played on by Animal. They came out on stage and just wrecked everybody. People were like, "Who the hell *are* these guys?", to which my response was, "Man, they are going to be *so* huge...keep an eye on them!".

The rest is history. 'Facelift' is one of my top 10 favorite/influencial albums of all time. Tho I wasn't awfully thrilled with the whole evolution of their sound, it was *still* AIC, and they *still* moved me. You could say the same for a lot of bands in history.

In the end, I'm not sure it matters what genre a band is, what label you put on them, or what their evolutionary progress was. As long as you take something from their music, that's what is most important!

*sigh* I miss Staley...
May 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermissy
someone mentioned pantera ealrier....

here's the facts: yes both alice and chains and pantera were glam bands. the only reasons they changed genres was to gain popularity and ride the current "waves". in essence what they did was an outright lie and insult to the respective genres and hundreds of bands slogging it out from the beginning. they had no respect for the styles of music that they played. if new disco had been the big thing at the time, they both would have been sellout disco bands.
July 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterasshat
I think AIC definitely displays hints of metal, but think, overall, they are grunge. Grunge was also more than its sound, but a movement - its own culture, and AIC was a large part of that.

Yeah, maybe their roots came from a glam band, but that's not to say they developed into an entirely different entity that left glam in the rearview mirror.

Happy birthday, Layne!
August 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKen

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