In the 80s Heavy Metal music evolved and was transformed into many different sub-genres, one of them being what was going to be later called Thrash Metal. The most influential and successful band of that style is Metallica that was formed by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich in 1981.
During that decade the band released their first four studio albums that showed all the heaviness they could offer but it was in 1991, that they released their most successful record, the self-titled album, nicknamed as “The Black Album” because of the cover.
They were one of the few Metal bands that were able to release a successful record at that time when Grunge was the hottest kind of music for the record companies and concert promoters at the time. Even though most part of the Heavy Metal musicians criticized Grunge and were not big fans of what the genre had to offer, Hetfield liked a lot of what was being made. He once even revealed which band from that era he consider to be timeless.
The Grunge band that James Hetfield consider to be timeless
Seattle, Washington is considered the birthplace of Grunge, that appeared in the city in the mid-80s but gained international fame in the early 90s. Bands that were formed in the city and nearby area released extremely successful albums. Some of them were Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.
Alice In Chains is probably the heaviest one that came out from that area and it is the one that James Hetfield said that is timeless. In an interview with Revolver magazine back in 2009 he said: “I just love hearing those songs. Those songs are awesome and should be heard, you know? They were so unique. So ahead of their time. And out of all the Seattle stuff, that stuff is the most timeless,” James Hetfield said.
He likes the group so much that he even did something that he hasn’t done much in his career, that is joining other bands on stage. In 2006, during the “Rock Am Ring” festival in Germany he sang and played guitar with them on their classic song “Would?”. Still in that year, he performed with them again but in San Francisco, California.
He said that Layne Staley was the second greatest singer of all time
Alice In Chains is not only known for their powerful sound but also for the amazing late singer Layne Staley. He was the voice of their first three albums “Facelift” (1990), “Dirt” (1992) and “Alice In Chains” (1995).
Hetfield loves Staley’s vocals and even placed him in the second position of the list he made to Rolling Stone magazine back in 2008 of the greatest singers of all time. He was in front of names like Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant, Steven Tyler and Rob Halford. But for Hetfield, Staley only wasn’t better than Ronnie James Dio, who was the one he picked to the first position.
In that same interview with Revolver magazine in 2009, Hetfield talked about Layne. He said that they weren’t close but that he saw Alice In Chains playing live in the 90s many times.
“I wasn’t really close with Layne. But I remember going to see Alice In Chains many times. I remember when we were down in L.A. (In 1991). I left the studio early to see them play on ‘Clash of the Titans’ with Slayer.”
James Hetfield continued:
“I was driving like a madman in this rented van, going on the median and scaring the shit out of my friend. ‘We gotta get there!’ And we get there, and they’d just got off. I was like, ‘Aw, man!’ (Laughs) I hung with them a little bit. Always just loved their music. I’d say that Jerry (Cantrell) and I share some life experiences. Like getting a second chance at life and realizing how cool things can be.”
“So we’ve got kind of a kinship that way. (…) Unfortunately, Layne just loved the junk too much, man. That was that. I just read in his lyrics his obsessiveness about it. And he knew where he was goin’! It’s like, in the school of driving, look where you want to go. That’s what he was doing, it seems like,” James Hetfield said.
Layne Staley died in 2002 at the age of 34 due to an overdose. The band was reformed in 2005 by the original members Jerry Cantrell (Guitar, vocals) and Sean Kinney (Drums), alongside the longtime member Mike Inez (Bass) and the singer William DuVall. Since then they have released three albums. They continue to tour around the world and keep the legacy of the band alive.
I am a Brazilian journalist, a Classic Rock and Heavy Metal lover. Music has always been part of my life, helped me through tough moments and was with me to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After college I did a postgraduate degree in digital communication. This has helped me to make the website better and bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG