In February of 2005, nearly a decade after their final show with singer Layne Staley, and nearly three years after Staley's death, Alice in Chains' surviving members — Jerry Cantrell, Mike Inez and Sean Kinney — reunited to perform a benefit concert for victims of the tsunami that had decimated South Asia a few months before. Tool's Maynard James Keenan and Heart's Ann Wilson, among others, chipped in on vocals. A little over a year later, the three bandmates regrouped again, to play VH1's "Decades Rock Live" concert, and were joined this time by Guns N' Roses' Duff McKagan and, on lead vocals, Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo, for a burly rendition of iconic Dirt closer "Would?"
But Anselmo was hardly the only big-name metal singer who would join the band to perform that song that year. In June 2006, at Germany's Rock am Ring festival, Metallica's James Hetfield took the stage during Alice in Chains' set to trade vocals with Cantrell on the Singles soundtrack cut. Staley and his death would serve, a few years later, as inspiration for Metallica's 2008 album, Death Magnetic.
"The theme of our new album is that we're all gonna die sometime," Hetfield told Guitar World. "Just like the poles of a magnet, some people are drawn to death and others are repulsed by it, but we all have to deal with it. Lyrically, it started as a bit of a tribute to Layne Staley and all those who've martyred themselves in the name of rock & roll. But it grew and evolved from there."