Photographers: Rocky Schenck; Jay Blakesberg; Danny Clinch.
Although Alice in Chains enjoyed both commercial and artistic success during their heyday, it is only in hindsight that their achievements can be properly assessed. The band has proven a key influence on scores of alternative metal acts that came after them, many of which outdistanced Alice in Chains in popularity. Moreover, the band's dark, winding, drone-oriented sound can be heard in everything from screamo to the mainstream rock of the early 2000s.
THE ESSENTIAL ALICE IN CHAINS is an excellent two-disc set that provides a definitive overview of the Seattle quartet's output. Relying heavily on the band's debut, FACELIFT, and its breakthrough follow-up, DIRT, the set best represents the band's tough, grungy sound, yet balances it with eerie acoustic numbers from the JAR OF FLIES EP and elsewhere. Few compilations live up to the adjective "essential," but this fine package is the ideal distillation of this important band's work.