Frank "Killjoy" Pucci, founder of macabre death-metal band Necrophagia died on March 18th, 2018. He was 48 years old. Pucci was one of those guys that toiled in the fringes, and Necrophagia was truly a labor of love and dedication. He melded his obsessive love of horror movies with his craft for making extreme music, creating a catalog of disturbing, taboo-challenging work that would span decades. It was art that pushed the envelope, be it with brutal lyrics, gruesome album art or nightmarishly deranged music videos. In our current climate of literalism and recreational outrage, it's surprising that Necrophagia never came under fire as a result of the litanies of nastiness they rendered. Satanic corpse desecration, cannibalism, blasphemy, torture, drug abuse and bloodletting are rampant. For sure, a lot of questionable stuff happens in the Necrophagia oeuvre, but it's all done with a pitch-black sense of humor and a crude D.I.Y. sensibility.
Pucci formed Necrophagia in 1983 and, along with Possessed and early Sepultura, helped create the prototype for death metal. The argument can be made that with the exception of Black Sabbath, Necorphagia were the first heavy-metal band to incorporated direct horror-movie elements into their music. Early demos and LPs such as Season of the Dead and Ready for Death set the precedent for the slasher-film violence, savage lyrics and overall creepy atmosphere that would define bands like Cannibal Corpse, Pestilence and Mortician. Even more modern bands such as Hooded Menace, Ghoul and Exhumed, who base much of their music around horror movies, owe a nod of gratitude to Pucci for paving the way.
Necrophagia broke up in the late Eighties and re-formed a decade later with Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo on guitar under the pseudonym Anton Crowley. It was also during this period that desperado filmmaker Jim Van Bebber (My Sweet Satan, The Manson Family) produced a series of demented music videos collected as Through the Eyes of the Undead. Made on a shoestring budget, the films are raw, punishing vignettes that hinted at future collaborations that would never be actualized.
Necrophagia continued into the 21st Century, releasing some of their best work on The Divine Art of Torture, Harvest Ritual Volume I, Death Trip 69 and WhiteWorm Cathedral, which be their final LP. Pucci also kept busy with other projects such as Wurdulak, Anselmo's black-metal project Viking Crown and death-metal all-star band the Ravenous.
Necrophagia never reached the same heights of popularity as some of their contemporaries, but they captured a hardcore underground following. Undoubtedly, they have made an impact on extreme metal. To this day, any underground metal musician who draws inspiration from the macabre, darker elements of the imagination and who pushes the accepted lines of good taste, most likely owes at least a passing sense of gratitude to Killjoy. R.I.P.