I can fondly remember attending Warped Tour 2010 as a hormonal teenager with an insatiable need for breakdowns. The roster sent my heart aflutter, including Bring Me The Horizon, Attack Attack!, Whitechapel, Parkway Drive, Emmure and Suicide Silence. Every set seemed to trump the one that preceded it and cause my moshing body to push back even harder in the pit. By the time SS initiated their set with the ominous buildup of ‘Wake Up,’ I was soaked from the rain, exhausted from the day’s packed schedule and bruised from fellow fans’ flurrying fists. Despite anticipating their set all day, every inch of my body ached to leave and relish in a car ride nap on the ride home.

Then he took the stage.

Scrawled on seemingly every speck of skin was a carefully crafted ink design conveying years of careful planning and insightful creativity. His scraggly hair swung around his face as he stalked about the stage. His eyes and overall demeanor implied a sense of impishness backed by a deeper understanding of compassion, gratitude and positivity. And despite his frame being arguably smaller than my then still developing sixteen year old body, his stage presence, performance and overall energy took over the entire crowd and incited more circle pits, walls of death and overall violence than any other band that I saw play that day. I may have gone to see Suicide Silence, but that performance proved to me one crucial thing: Mitch Lucker was Suicide Silence. Unfortunately, it is with great sadness that in this last phrase, I must now use “was” instead of “is.”

Mitch’s passing marks the first time a personal musical hero of mine was lost during my lifetime. Admittedly, my tastes have evolved significantly during the past few years, and SS’ records don’t receive the same amount of playtime as they used to. However, regardless of tangible prevalence, SS and Mitch specifically will always hold personal relevance with me. His band provided me the ability to begin weaning myself off of the deathcore crutch and start appreciating straight-up death metal. His exuberance as a frontman ignited within me a dream of becoming a metal vocalist. And most importantly, his abrasive anti-Christian lyrics supported my growing Atheism and assured a young me that I was not alone with my questions and doubts.

While these reflections all took place yesterday with my roommate, a couple of drinks and a commemoratory spin of No Time To Bleed, I felt the need for a sense of closure and public recognition. He meant a lot to me, and judging from the countless posts from friends, bands and record labels that appeared on my news feed, that is a widely shared sentiment. My deepest condolences go out to his wife & daughter, family & friends, bandmates & fans and anyone else who he may have had an impact on. His voice may never again bellow through a microphone, but his words will soar from headphones and speakers for countless years to come.

Rest in peace Mitch, and thanks for everything.

-SM

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