In a new interview with Decibel Magazine, The Black Dahlia Murder confirmed that they will continue as an active band following the tragic death of vocalist Trevor Strnad at age 41. TBDM co-founder and guitarist Brian Eschbach will assume vocal duties, while ex-guitarist Ryan Knight—who left on good terms in 2016—will return to the fold.

Eschbach told Decibel it’s not a decision taken lightly but one they know Strnad would want.

“We spent many days thinking things like, ‘Is this over?’ None of us wanted it to be over. We still feel like there is a lot left to do. I know Trevor would keep this band going if I went down a deep, dark path and weren’t here. It’s bigger than us. When we finally started talking about it, we thought, ‘Let’s remake it from within and see if Ryan wants to return. And I’ll take a crack on the vocals and see how it goes.’ I can’t go out there and do Trevor’s voice or try to be him. I can only execute the music of the Black Dahlia Murder with respect and try to do it the most justice I can. I’ve heard Trevor perform more than anyone else alive.”

Guitarist Brandon Ellis echoed the sentiment of his bandmates that the only way forward was from within; no outside stranger would be able to replace Strnad or enter the tight-knit family that The Black Dahlia Murder is known for being. Eschbach has been with the modern death metal institution since the beginning and is equally responsible for the band’s position today.

“It was the only way it could work. Brian has been the president and mastermind of the band from the beginning. He’s our leader. For him to take over as the face and frontman of the band is the only option. We are all so thankful that there is a path that seems to make sense. Because if we don’t continue this band, all of this music and all of these songs—everything we worked on with Trevor for over 21 years—just goes away. That didn’t seem like an option. This is the only way forward that is authentic, respectful and genuine. We have five guys that are and have been the Black Dahlia Murder. No one on the planet knows this band like Brian.”

The band members remember Strnad’s jovial personality that allowed him to connect with fans on a deeper level; he instantly became friends with his people at his shows and treated them like he’d known them for longer than a few minutes. Strnad’s friendly disposition and hard-to-forget personality aren’t easy to fill in but Metal Blade CEO Brian Slagel, who signed Black Dahlia in 2002, says the band can handle it.

“Trevor was a one-of-a-kind person on many levels. So, there are some difficulties because there are so many things he brought to the table. But the Black Dahlia Murder are all such good guys and have always been a people’s band. I think they will find a path to continue that. Strangely enough, we went through a similar situation when [GWAR frontman] Dave Brockie passed away. As everyone knows, Michael Bishop came back [as a new character Blothar the Berserker] and they are going strong. I remember now from the early days of GWAR that Bishop spoke even more than Oderus, and he was able to jump back in and continue. I hope this is a similar situation. This has not been done often, but there are occasions when this works. I feel good about this, and I know Brian [Eschbach] is putting his heart and soul into it.”

Eschbach concludes the interview by saying that while the path forward may be difficult, he is sure of this decision. The Black Dahlia Murder is what these musicians do and they will continue on.

“I don’t have any doubts about what we’re doing. We are making the best out of a shitty, horrible situation. We are the people to do it. It’s always a challenge to write a new album, but it will be a different challenge this time to keep this legacy alive without Trevor. We aren’t going to start writing a bunch of political songs. In the early days, we would always talk about horror comics. We wanted to tell dark and scary stories. That was the foundation of it, and will stay the same. [Second-guessing] is going to happen. We’re a big band. Some people will reject it just hearing about it, but this is just something we have to do. This is us, and we can’t stop it. If that bums them out, well, that bums us out, too. But we can’t stop doing it.”

In addition to the announcement that the band will continue on, they also announced a show in Detroit on October 28 at Saint Andrew’s Hall. It’s being billed as a “celebration of the life and legacy of Trevor Strnad” and will be the first time newly reformed The Black Dahlia Murder will hit the stage.

Joining TBDM that evening will be Darkest Hour and Plague Years. Tickets will go on sale via Ticketmaster this Friday at 10 a.m. EST.

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