"Sea of Sorrow" was released as a single in 1991. "Sea of Sorrow" peaked at number 27 on the BillboardMainstream Rock Tracks chart. "Sea of Sorrow" was a moderate success and is still occasionally played on hard rock radio stations.
Ned Raggett of Allmusic said that the song "showed that even as a fairly young group Alice in Chains wanted to fool around with expectations at least a bit" and that "just about every member gets a little moment of flair on the track."
The first version was directed by Paul Rachman, who had previously directed the "Man in the Box" music video for the band. The first (and ultimately discarded) version is in color and features the band playing in multicolored spotlights. Vocalist Layne Staley also has most of his dreadlocks cut off, but some intact, giving him an odd hairstyle. The video is available on the home video release Live Facelift.
The second version, directed by Martyn Atkins, was the one the band eventually decided to release and is shot mostly in black and white. Segments from the color video are used in the later black and white one, often glowing momentarily into color from monochrome. There was some editing involved to make the final video appear seamless, as Staley has the half-dreadlock hairstyle in the color video, but shorter and more even cut in the second. The video is available on the home video release Music Bank: The Videos.