Alongside their Seattle grunge brethren in Nirvana, the original Alice In Chains had one of the greatest impacts across one of the shortest timeframes in the history of rock. Formed in 1987 by guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell and drummer Sean Kinney, they would work with bassists Mike Starr and Mike Inez, and one-of-a-kind frontman Layne Staley on three EPs, three LPs and an iconic MTV Unplugged live album between 1990 and 1996, when Layne’s spiralling drug use ground activity to a halt. The vocalist’s death, from a heroin overdose in 2002, seemed to draw a line under an unprecedentedly innovative, unassailably brilliant catalogue.
Eyebrows were understandably raised by 2005’s ‘reunion’ show for a south east Asia tsunami relief benefit, with stars like Maynard James Keenan and Ann Wilson of Heart performing Layne’s parts. The decision, the following year, to give Comes With The Fall vocalist William DuVall – a friend of Jerry’s from years before – a chance to play with the band was revelatory, however, and his permanent position kickstarted an unlikely resurgence that’s seen three excellent albums produced between 2009 and 2018 – as well as breathing new life into Layne’s old songs in the live arena.