Originating in Seattle, Washington, from which grunge music originated, Alice in Chains is a rock band formed in 1987 with songwriter and guitarist Jerry Cantrell, lead vocalist and guitarist Layne Staley, bass guitarist Mike Starr, and drummer Sean Kinney. Their sound is a mixture of metal and grunge. Heavy metal is characterized by dark, nihilistic and theatrical themes and has its roots in psychedelic rock and blues. The sound is highly amplified and, thus, distorted and dissonant harmonies. Grunge, having originated in Seattle, incorporates the heavily distorted sound of electric guitars with what is called fuzz and feedback and riffs. The growling vocals are produced with gravel vocals. Jerry Cantrell identifies his band as more metal than anything else. His "pummeling riffs and expansive guitar textures" create "slow, brooding minor-key grinds" that demonstrate melody while Cantrell could blend electric guitars with the acoustic. This mixture of hard metal with melody and harmonious sound has given the band a broader audience.
In the 1990's the band became famous along with others from Seattle in the grunge movement such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam. There success continued, but was plagued after 1996 by the substance abuse of Layne Staley, who later died. After he was replaced by William DuVall in 2005, the band released their studio album entitled, Black Gives Way to Blue, which sold enough copies to be certified gold in 2010. Their 2013 album, after the death of bassist Mike Starr from drugs, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, also was a success. Currently, Alice in Chains is on tour for this last album, having sold more than 14 million albums throughout their careers and nearly 25 million worldwide.