At around 1 AM on May 1st, one of my best friends, a guy named Anthony, committed suicide via shotgun blast to the chest. He did it in his car, outside the apartment building where he roomed with another of my best friends (and bandmate). The angle of the shot shredded the roof of his car and the cops had to pick up pellets of buckshot from around the parking lot. My bandmate found him at about 6 in the morning, entering rigor mortis. The hole in his chest was big enough that the barrel of the shotgun actually fell into his corpse. Even better, it was then my bandmate's job to go around town and wake every one of our little circle of friends up with the news.
There was no funeral- he was cremated and there was no official service. There was a memorial party of sorts thrown by his family a couple days ago, but that's the end of it.
There's a lot of fascinating details to what he did. When we went over to my bandmate's place to look at his room for the last time, we saw that he'd cleaned and packed up nearly all his belongings for ease of removal when the time came. His computer was cleared of everything except two MP3s left on his desktop- one to his friends in general, and one to the friend he was closest to. We listened to the one that was for all of us- funny enough, it was Megadeth's 'A Tout Le Monde', which lyrically made a lot of sense given his ethos. He left very specific gifts to each of us that were clearly designed with each person in mind. In my case, he left a worn copy of 'The Brothers Karamozov', a book we'd discussed when we spoke about classic literature the last time the two of us hung out alone together. He recommended it to me and insisted that it would resonate with me the way it did him. When I saw it on his desk, I sat on his bed and wept.
Anthony was an interesting person. He was definitely one of the most cynical and nihilistic people I've ever met- he firmly believed that life was ultimately purposeless and arbitrary, that good and evil was a false dichotomy, and that reality in general was nothing but a collection of perceptions. He despised the world and everyone in it apart from the small clan of friends he was loyal to. He was basically estranged from his family, and while extremely intelligent, was essentially tortured by what he thought was his personal failure to his family, friends, and himself. His preparation for the suicide was distinct, ritualized, and most importantly, impossible for anyone to track and stop. It was not a cry for help. It was meticulously planned, and he clearly wanted no one to stop him.
Reading the description of Anthony, you might see why I'm posting this on a blog about metal and extreme music: almost every detail of his personality neatly describes the average person who is deeply invested in underground art. While he wasn't a metalhead, all the parts of his personality and mind add up. The average metalhead is uncannily similar to him: intelligent but fatalistic, only sporadically able to function in an everyday existence that seems ultimately meaningless, loyal and with high-minded romantic concepts but ill at ease with himself and uncertain about his future and place in the world. He was just one of what sometimes seems like an entire generation of children with no direction, no goal, and no deeper meaning for life beyond what we've managed to cobble together for ourselves.
The point of this is not to talk about suicide or even my friend, really. At the end of this piece, there's not going to be phone numbers to suicide hotlines, trigger warnings, or desperate pleas to not do the same. I refuse to condescend to you in that manner. However, I hope it makes you think about exactly where our impulses towards underground art come from. Anthony was not excessively different from myself or likely you reading this right now; we're simply lucky enough to have found just enough to drive us to push through the days that he couldn't. At Trial By Ordeal, we try to give a voice to his part of the population: angry, depressed, obsessive, romantic, fearful, and frustrated with the world around them. As we've been repeatedly let down by the fake movements and revolutions of our era, all we can do is try to carve out our own foxhole in a world that doesn't care about us.
Krieg ist leben, leben ist krieg.