Alice in Chains have never been exactly who everyone thought they were. That’s not to say they weren’t awesome the entire time.
But frontman Layne Staley, guitarist-singer-songwriter Jerry Cantrell, drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Inez and the late Mike Starr were already an established metal band with a Grammy-nominated album out by the time Nevermind dropped. They were never a grunge band in the Sub Pop sense of the word, but they came to define a metallic edge to the genre – one that Staley cut with seething charisma and an incantation-like drone that would burst into searing confessionals about heroin. When he died in 2002, it was a tremendous loss, but not without warning – Alice in Chains hadn’t recorded together in seven years.