April 5this the 23rd anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain, which really sucked. But April 5th is also the 12th anniversary of the death of the equally iconic, and oft-overshadowed Alice In Chains frontman, Layne Staley. Staley’s voice is instantly recognizable as the wailing cry for help that it came to be. His rail thin frame moved the air in locomotive sized gusts and coupled with Jerry Cantrell’s baritone brought a harmonic tone to aggressive music that has yet to be matched.
AIC, while grouped with the grunge giants of the early 90’s, were more on the metal spectrum where Staley’s voice excelled, but there are tender moments in songs where his voice was powerful enough to hold the monsters at bay, but tender enough to cradle them as emotions
This is no better seen than on the album Dirt and in the song “Down in a Hole”. The first lyric is haunting; “Bury me softly in this womb”, with Staley pulling as Cantrell slightly nudges him along, culminating in the release of the chorus “I’d like to fly, but my wings have been denied”. Staley struggled with addiction eventually shutting himself off from the world and succumbing to a heroin overdose in 2002. Whatever demons he was fighting are taunting him in “Down in a Hole”.
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