Trevor Strnad, the lead vocalist and co-founder of the American black metal band Black Dahlia Murder, has died at the age of 41. His bandmates confirmed his death on social media. No cause was given, but contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was shared with the announcement.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Trevor Scott Strnad,” the Michigan group said in a statement. Dear son, brother and [shepherd] of the good times, he was loved by all who were with him. A walking encyclopedia of all things music. He was a hugger, a writer and truly one of the best artists in the world. His lyrics provided the world with stories, spells, horror and fantasy. It was the life of him to be your show.”
The band’s lead guitarist, Brandon Ellis, called him “one of the funniest, most entertaining people on earth. The life of the party that is Black Dahlia Murder, as well as any room it occupies. A lyrical mastermind. A champion of all heavy music culture. Also my greatest support.”
The metal world in general also paid tribute to Strnad. Trivium’s Matt Heafy called him a “modern metal icon”.
“He was such a sweet guy,” said Machine Head’s Robb Flynn. “I had him on my podcast about 10 months ago, he was very open about his struggle with depression. It’s a sad day for the metal community.”
The Black Dahlia Murder formed in 2000 and named itself after the unsolved 1947 murder of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short. and citing acts like Metallica, Pantera and Judas Priest as influences.
After releasing several EPs independently, they signed with Metal Blade Records in 2003, which became their long-term home. His most recent release for the label was 2020’s Verminous. The title referred to metal fans being the bearers of a cultural plague.
Rhythm and string guitarist Brian Eschbach were the only constant members of the group, which had a fluctuating lineup. His highest-charting album was 2011’s Ritual, which reached No. 31 on the US Billboard album chart.
Strnad came to heavy metal as a kid obsessed with horror movies and fantasy. “I used to walk down the metal aisle and look at all the artwork in record stores in the past,” he told Echoes and Dust in 2020. “I really found out once that there was music about dragons and skeletons and things like that. , seemed perfect. once i opened that book, there was nothing to stop me.”
He described horror and metal as “healthy outlets for negative energy”, although he admitted that being the only metal fan in his teenage community could be isolating. “I feel like the average person doesn’t see the merit in our culture and our world and doesn’t see how passionate we are, how it gives us so much life. It’s definitely been instrumental in shaping who I am.”
In a 2021 interview with Metal Injection, Strnad spoke openly about the cost of drinking on tour as a way of maintaining the persona fans had come to expect from him, and about the aesthetic pressures he felt as the band’s leader. “He’s built up some self-doubt, more anxiety for me as the band has gotten bigger and bigger, and there’s more eyes and more pressure,” he said.
“I want my 40th to be amazing,” he said, expressing his hope that Black Dahlia Murder would last another 20 years and that he would “gracefully transition into older metal.”
Strnad said being alone with his thoughts for two years of the pandemic had been “very dangerous” for him, and that he was exploring ketamine and psychedelic therapy as a way to break old counterproductive thought patterns and help him push past a creative block.
Speaking publicly about his mental health had helped him, he said. “And I figure I might be helping someone else to know that I’m a human being and that someone they maybe look up to for inspiration goes through that too.”