Alice in Chains is one of the most influential and successful rock bands of all time. The Seattle-based group emerged in the late 1980s as part of the grunge movement. They also incorporated elements of heavy metal, alternative rock, and acoustic music into their sound. Alice in Chains has released six studio albums, three EPs, three live albums, and several compilations, selling over 30 million records worldwide. The band has also received multiple Grammy nominations and won several awards, including MTV Video Music Awards and American Music Awards. But which Alice in Chains songs ranked from worst to best?
10 Alice in Chains Songs Ranked
Alice in Chains is known for their distinctive vocal harmonies, dark and introspective lyrics, and powerful riffs. The band has had two lead singers: Layne Staley, who died of a drug overdose in 2002, and William DuVall, who joined the band in 2006. Both singers have contributed to the band’s legacy and have earned the respect and admiration of fans and critics alike.
With such a rich and diverse discography, it is hard to rank Alice in Chains’ songs from worst to best. However, based on popularity, critical acclaim, and personal preference, here is our attempt to do so. We have selected 10 songs that represent the band’s evolution and impact over the years. These are the 10 Alice in Chains songs ranked worst to best.
10. Check My Brain
Check My Brain is the second single from Alice in Chains’ fourth studio album, Black Gives Way to Blue. It marked the band’s comeback after a 14-year hiatus. The song showcases the band’s new vocalist William DuVall, who blends well with Jerry Cantrell’s guitar and vocals.
The song also features a catchy chorus and a heavy riff that uses a drop C# tuning. Check My Brain is a tribute to the band’s hometown of Seattle. It is also a reflection of Cantrell’s adjustment to living in Los Angeles. Fans and critics acclaimed the song, propelling it to number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and securing it a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance. This song ranks tenth on our list of Alice in Chains songs ranked.
9. Down in a Hole
Down in a Hole is one of the most emotional and personal songs by Alice in Chains. The song was written by Cantrell as a love song for his then-girlfriend. He was reluctant to show it to the band because he felt it was too soft. However, Staley convinced him to record it, and he sang the lead vocals with passion and sincerity.
Down in a Hole is a ballad that conveys the emotions of feeling trapped and hopeless in a relationship destined to fail. The song features acoustic guitars, piano, and strings, creating a contrast with the heavier songs on the album Dirt. They released the song as the fourth single from Dirt, and it climbed to number 10 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. This song ranks nineth on our list of Alice in Chains songs ranked.
Rooster is one of Alice in Chains’ most iconic and popular songs. Cantrell wrote the song as a tribute to his father, nicknamed “Rooster” by his fellow soldiers, who served in the Vietnam War. The song tells the story of his father’s experiences and struggles during and after the war, as well as his relationship with his son.
Rooster is a powerful and epic song that combines hard rock and blues influences. The song features a memorable guitar riff, a soaring chorus, and a haunting outro with gunshots and helicopters. It was released as the third single from Dirt and reached number seven on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. The song also has an acclaimed music video that depicts scenes from the war and from Cantrell’s childhood. This song ranks eighth on our list of Alice in Chains songs ranked.
7. Man in the Box
Alice in Chains‘ breakthrough hit, Man in the Box, stands as one of their signature songs. Staley and Cantrell wrote the song as a critique of censorship and media manipulation. The song employs metaphors of animals and religion to articulate the message of society controlling and silencing individuals. Man in the Box is a hard-hitting and catchy song that showcases Staley’s powerful vocals and Cantrell’s guitar skills.
The song features a distorted wah-wah pedal effect that creates a distinctive sound. They released it as the second single from Facelift, and it reached number 18 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. The controversial music video also reveals Staley wearing a crown of thorns and enduring torture by masked figures. This song ranks seventh on our list of Alice in Chains songs ranked.
6. Them Bones
Them Bones is the opening track and the second single from Alice in Chains’ second studio album, Dirt. The song was written by Cantrell as a reflection on his own mortality and the inevitability of death. The song is based on a dream he had where he was lying in a graveyard surrounded by bones. Them Bones is a fast and furious song that lasts less than three minutes.
The song features a complex time signature of 7/8, a heavy guitar riff, and a dual vocal harmony between Staley and Cantrell. Fans and critics warmly embraced it, propelling the song to number 24 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and securing it a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance. The song also has a dark and surreal music video. It shows the band performing in a desert with skeletons and coffins. This song ranks sixth on our list of Alice in Chains songs ranked.
5. No Excuses
No Excuses is the lead single and the most successful song from Alice in Chains’ third EP, Jar of Flies. Cantrell wrote the song as a means of addressing the tensions and conflicts within the band, particularly between him and Staley, both of whom grappled with drug addiction. The song is about accepting responsibility for one’s actions and not blaming others for one’s problems.
No Excuses is a melodic and upbeat song that contrasts with the band’s darker and heavier material. The song features acoustic guitars, drums, bass, and harmonica, creating a bluesy and groovy sound. The song also features a catchy chorus and a smooth vocal harmony between Staley and Cantrell.
It was a huge hit for the band, reaching number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. It became their only top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song also has a simple but effective music video that shows the band performing in a warehouse with their friends. This song ranks fifth on our list of Alice in Chains songs ranked.
Nutshell is one of Alice in Chains’ most beautiful and heartbreaking songs. The song was written by Staley, Cantrell, Inez, and Kinney as a reflection on their loneliness and isolation from the world. The song is about feeling hopeless and helpless in life and wanting to escape from reality. Nutshell is a slow and melancholic song that features acoustic guitars, bass, drums, and strings.
The song also features Staley’s haunting vocals and Cantrell’s emotional guitar solo. The song was never released as a single. It became one of the band’s most beloved songs among fans and critics. It also has two memorable live performances. One from the MTV Unplugged album in 1996, which was Staley’s last appearance with the band before his death. Another from the KEXP radio station in 2006, which was DuVall’s first appearance with the band after joining them. This song ranks fourth on our list of Alice in Chains songs ranked.
Would? is Alice in Chains’ most famous and influential song. Cantrell penned the song as a tribute to his friend Andrew Wood, the lead singer of Mother Love Bone, who tragically succumbed to a heroin overdose in 1990. The song is about the pain and anger of losing someone to drugs and questioning their choices and fate.
Would? is a masterpiece of grunge music that combines heavy metal and alternative rock elements. The song features a distinctive bass line by Inez, a powerful guitar riff by Cantrell, and an intense vocal performance by Staley. It was released as the final single from Dirt and reached number 31 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.
The song also has an acclaimed music video. It shows the band performing in front of images of Wood and other drug-related scenes. The song also appeared on the soundtrack of the 1992 film Singles, which helped to expose the band to a wider audience. This song ranks third on our list of Alice in Chains songs ranked.
2. I Stay Away
I Stay Away is one of Alice in Chains’ most experimental and creative songs. Staley, Cantrell, Inez, Kinney, and producer Toby Wright collectively composed the song during an improvised jam session as part of the recording process for Jar of Flies. The song is about wanting to avoid negative situations and people that can harm one’s well-being.
I Stay Away is a unique and diverse song that features acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass, drums, vocals, harmonica, and strings. The song also features different sections that vary in tempo, mood, and style: from soft and harmonic to loud and aggressive.
The song was released as the second single from Jar of Flies. It reached number 10 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. It also has an innovative and award-winning music video that uses stop-motion animation to tell the story of a circus troupe that encounters a mysterious creature. This song ranks second on our list of Alice in Chains songs ranked.
1. Love, Hate, Love
Love, Hate, Love is one of Alice in Chains’ most underrated and impressive songs. Staley, Cantrell, Starr, and Kinney collaborated to craft the song, portraying a toxic and abusive relationship. The song is about the cycle of love and hate that binds the lovers together and destroys them both.
Love, Hate, Love is a slow and heavy song that features a bluesy guitar riff by Cantrell, a solid bass line by Starr, and a pounding drum beat by Kinney. The song also features Staley’s incredible vocal range and performance. He sings from low to high notes with ease and emotion. It was never released as a single, but it became a fan favorite and a staple of the band’s live shows.
The song also has a live performance from the 1991 film The Late Show: Live at the Moore. It showcases the band’s raw talent and energy. Love, Hate, Love is Alice in Chains’ best song and a masterpiece of vocal music. The song captures the band’s dark and intense style and their amazing musical abilities. This song ranks first on our list of Alice in Chains songs ranked.
The Bottom Line
These are the 10 Alice in Chains songs ranked worst to best. Do you agree with our list? What are your favorite songs by Alice in Chains? Let us know in the comments below.