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Metal and mourning

The irony and poignancy of death inside a genre obsessed with the concept.

There’s been a lot of death-related news in the heavy-metal world this week. Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps in a genre typically obsessed with the subject, when it actually happens in real life and not just within the songs, it seems to hold an extra layer of poignancy. Here’s some brutal news to feast your eyes upon.

Last week, Swedish band Ghost released their fourth album Prequelle. The night before the album was due to drop, one of their fans passed away at their show in Milwaukee. At the time of writing, the man’s name and cause of death was yet to be released, but a local news report confirmed he was pronounced dead upon arriving at the hospital. The band cancelled their set midway through. Prequelle, as it is, is a concept album about the black plague that swept Europe in the 1300s, and the flourishing of human life that came afterwards. Less microscopically, it’s an album about finding growth in decay, and celebrating the cyclical nature of life and death. Poignant indeed.

Anal Cunt is an American grindcore band that ended when their vocalist Seth Putnam died of a heart attack in 2011. With their lyrical themes usually revolving around racism, homophobia, sexism, laughing at people for dying, and turning everything into the most offensive ‘jokes’ they could possibly conjure, they weren’t exactly known for being nice. ‘Your Kid Is Deformed’ and ‘You Just Got Cancer’ are among their more publishable song titles. Last week, their guitarist Josh Martin died after accidentally falling off the top of an escalator and hitting his head on a table. A witness said he was “clowning around” before the fall. Please do not listen to Anal Cunt’s 1997 album I Like It When You Die.

Tim Lambesis is the vocalist and driving force behind American (and formerly Christian) metalcore band As I Lay Dying. Lambesis got into weightlifting and juicing pretty hard, and then in 2012 the band released their sixth album Awakened. He officially renounced Jesus, and not long after that was arrested in May 2013 for attempting to solicit a hitman to murder his estranged wife. Spoiler alert: no one actually died here, and he blamed it on roid rage. His bandmates obviously left him, and he was sentenced to six years in prison, before finding God again, and being released on probation in December 2016. Last week, As I Lay Dying offered up a 45-second clip of new music. The rumour mill is rallying hard behind the fact that the full band has rejoined Lambesis, and those 45 seconds sound bloody crisp. The world has gone insane and I’m strapped the fuck in for the rest of my ride.