Hails and Horns: Honoring the life and legacy of metal's biggest advocate, Trevor Strnad

Hails and Horns: Honoring the life and legacy of metal's biggest advocate, Trevor Strnad

- By Ramon Gonzales

As both a veteran frontman and a passionate advocate of metal culture, the voice of The Black Dahlia Murder was also an important contributor to the Knotfest editorial team - his colleagues offer their tribute to a true one of one.

It's been about a month since we lost Trevor and the void he has left is a chasm.

For the Knotfest editorial team, the loss not only meant one of our favorite frontmen was gone, but equally if not more of of our favorite humans was gone. We had the unique vantage point of being able to work with someone we were fans - it was surreal in the most amazing way.

Trevor was a wealth of knowledge and yet, he was adamant on consuming more. More importantly, Trevor was generous with that knowledge and wanted nothing more than to share what he knew with as many people as possible.

To say he will be missed is an understatement of the biggest proportion. He was one of the most commanding frontmen in extreme music. He was a champion of horror cinema. He was an ambassador for the next generation of metal musicians... yet above all, he was a phenomenal example of what this community can be.

His fans turned colleagues shared some thoughts.

It’s rare when a person lives up to all the expectations people have set about them.
It’s even more rare when they exceed them.
That was Trevor Strnad.
I was nervous as hell the first time we had a stream together. Dude has forgotten more about heavy metal than I’ll ever know, and there was definitely a bit of imposter syndrome felt on my end. But within minutes he’d made me feel like we’d known each other for ages.
That was Trevor.
His love for heavy metal and the underground was so large that, not only did he agree to spend two hours every other week streaming with someone he didn’t know, but he was actively excited to hear what Cori and I had to play.
His personality was only exceed by the passion he had for the music. Whether it was a band that had been around for decades or one that only had 150 listeners on Spotify, he knew what he loved and wanted to share it with anyone who would listen.
That’s so rare nowadays, but that was Trevor.
One of the best vocalists and lyricists in the genre, more influential and inspiring than he probably ever knew, hanging and cracking jokes like he was just some other guy.
I’ll miss that most about him. Forget the fact he was the reason I’m listening to No / Más, Astronoid or countless others. His enthusiasm for extreme music was just so infectious it made you want to dig as hard as he did.
He showed that even a musician of his stature could be human. Not some unapproachable, out of touch visage that only cared about his own success. He wanted the bands he loved to succeed.
The heavy music works lost its biggest champion, and it’s impossible to understate what that man did for metal.
But more than that, he was just a great dude. Someone that found his passion, wanted to share it with the world, and made you just as excited about it as he was
That was Trevor, and his loss is a void that can’t be filled.

- Co-host Jon Garcia // Pulse of The Maggots

Trevor was one of the funniest and kindest people I've ever met. His legacy as an outstanding musician is no secret. But Trevor was so much more than an amazing death metal vocalist. He was a friend. He was a champion for the underground. And he was, and will always be, someone I truly admire. He had a way of making you believe in yourself, simply because he believed in you. Getting the Trevor Stamp of Approval, whether you were an up-and-coming band or just someone trying to do something in this industry, was a badge of honor. And I hope that all those people who got that badge, wear theirs with pride and continue to spread the same joy he always did. The metal world lost one of our brightest lights, so we all have to shine that much brighter, for Trevor.

- Co-host Cori Westbrook // Pulse of The Maggots

Trevor Strnad leaves behind the best set of death metal lyrics ever written by a single person. His was a pen that could truly get inside the minds and mannerisms of his macabre characters, that could take any stock death metal concept and turn it into the most beautiful and eloquent rallying cry for death metal horror freaks everywhere. Lycanthropy became “Moonlight Equilibrium”. Jack the Ripper became “The Leather Apron’s Scorn”. Halloween became “A Shrine to Madness”. The worst kind of criminals even most death metal lyricists would shy away from touching became “Threat Level No. 3”. The Black Dahlia herself became “In Hell is Where She Waits for Me”. “Catacomb Hetacomb” is just about a big stupid zombie spider eating people, and it reads like Poe.

These were songs that frequently showed the absolute worst in humanity, and when that had been done went far beyond. The man behind them though became known as the sweetest and most infectious in his passion for his art form person this scene had. Through sheer force of enthusiasm, Trevor got the music of not just his own landmark band but about a thousand smaller ones behind him into the hands of budding extreme music lovers around the world. No one spread joy in the blood-spattered world of death metal like Trevor did, and that’s important to people. That makes you feel at home. Can you imagine what the members of any tiny slam band from Thailand or Ecuador or South Africa with 50 local Bandcamp supporters felt like when the frontman of The Black Dahlia Murder published a column to thousands of rabid death metal lovers saying how sick they were?

The audiences that some of these bands played to that they’d have no business doing normally, because Black Dahlia thought they were cool? If you dig out your most obscure illegible brutal death metal logo shirt, you can guarantee that the one other person you could name who’d have that shirt too would be Trevor Strnad.

We all need to work doubly hard to give new death metal bands the leg up to make up for Trevor not doing it all himself. If you are one of the many extreme music fans whose first favourite band there was The Black Dahlia Murder, there was no better hand than Trevor’s to welcome you into that underworld and show you all of what it had to offer.

- Perran Helyes // Knotfest Editorial

Trevor was the very best of us - a down to earth, lovely guy who made friends with anyone he came into contact with, and who brightened everyone's days and lives. He was not only one of the best frontmen this scene has ever seen, but a great ambassador for the metal world with his love of showcasing the underground and his countless guest appearances for other bands. The world is a darker place without Trevor Strnad.

- Matt Rushton // Knotfest Edtorial

November 2009.

Photo by Jerry Nicholl

The Black Dahlia Murder played a free show at a small club I began working at called Slidebar in Fullerton. The Greenery opened and at that time, The Greenery would have packed the place out on their own.

To give you some idea of the mayhem that was that night, the band performed in a room that was the size of a suburban living room - 200 people were supposed to fit in that space but the flood of humanity that crammed in was so dense, the walls were sweating.

Trevor held court over that crowd with the kind of command that reaffirmed some people were just put on this earth to do something specific. This was his element. These were his people.

Flash forward more than a decade later and we are talking about the release of Verminous during a historic global pandemic and the same guy that I remember skillfully riding a wave of live bedlam is the same guy that is articulating brilliant one-liners about music, art, culture, and the kind of community that nurtures metal.

He was at the head of that community and probably didn't even know it.

He was rattling off emerging bands that should be on people's radars - back then he was accurately singing the praises of Undeath. In addition to how engaging, entertaining and enthusiastic he was, Strnad's likely most lasting legacy is that of the culture's biggest advocate on a greater scale. In a world of gatekeepers, he seemed adamant on breaking down those dividing lines and megaphoning a think-and-grow together mentality that this community has sorely needed for... ever.

It made complete sense that he became a part of our editorial team and a presence on the Pulse of the Maggots series. Trevor genuinely gave a fuck about new artists in a way that most veterans in the game have become disconnected from. He was active, locked in and committed to exchanging music in a way that made him a true one of one.

Talented - obviously. Game-changing, no question. Yet while the catalog of The Black Dahlia Murder is a testament to his creative prowess, what will be missed the most is the kind of authentic advocacy Trevor injected into our space. His give-a-fuck is something you can't fake and more importantly, it was truly infectious. It's why he was so convincing onstage, on record, and in a conversation - Trevor cared and for that, the world of heavy music owes him a debt of gratitude.

- Ramon Gonzales // Knotfest Editorial

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