GWAR guitarist Cory Smoot -- known by the stage name Flattus Maximus -- was found dead by his bandmates this morning (Nov. 3), as GWAR prepared to cross the Canadian border for a stretch of tour dates. He was 34.
In a statement first released to the blog MetalSucks and later confirmed by Billboard, GWAR leader Dave Brockie (aka Oderus Urungus) wrote: "It is with a sense of profound loss and tragedy that the members of GWAR must announce the passing of their long time guitarist and beloved friend Cory Smoot, also known to thousands of metal fans worldwide as Flattus Maximus. Cory was found deceased this morning as the band prepared for a border crossing. There is no word as to the cause of death and the members of GWAR are completely shocked and devastated that this has occurred."
As for the Richmond, Va. act's future plans, Brockie wrote in his statement: "At this point there is no word on arrangements and the disposition of the remainder of GWAR's current North American tour, nor are there any details regarding long term plans. At this point we are just dealing with the loss of our dear friend and brother, one of the most talented guitar players in metal today. We ask that our fans and the media be respectful of our request for privacy for those that have suffered this terrible loss. A full statement will be coming in the next day or so, in the meantime please give your thoughts and your prayers to Cory, his family, and all the people that love him."
According to GWAR's rep, no additional information surrounding Smoot's death is yet known.
The guitarist joined the Grammy-nominated band in the role of Flattus Maximus in 2002. As for the man behind the red face and dreadlocks, Smoot operated his own music production company/recording studio, Karma Productions, where he mixed, engineered and produced for the likes of GWAR, Skeletonwitch ("Beyond the Permafrost" album) and Municipal Waste.
Born Aug. 25, 1977, Smoot previously played in metal bands Misguided and Locus Factor and continued to play with Mensrea, in addition to establishing his own solo endeavor, the Cory Smoot Experiment.