None of Killjoy’s various projects was destined to make him a household name, not in thirty years, but his importance to death metal belies his notoriety. He wasn’t universally well-known for the gory death metal supergroup of The Ravenous; not for the raw blackness of Viking Crown, or for the thrash of his eponymous band, or for the death / thrash hybrid of Cabal, or for any of the rest. He was rightly best known for the lengthy career of his primary outfit, the seminal Necrophagia, of which he was both the leader and only consistent member. One of the founding pillars of death metal, alongside Death and Possessed, Necrophagia garnered the least accolades of any of those, and remained underground like the zombies and ghoulies that inspired them. Nevertheless, they should not be overlooked.
After one influential album in 1987’s roughshod Season Of The Dead, Necrophagia disbanded and sat out death metal’s early-90s explosion, reforming in 1998 for Holocausto de la Muerte with only Killjoy from the original band. Through four additional full-lengths in 20 years, Killjoy guided his rotating band of horror junkies, his infectious array of growls and gurgles one of the band’s finest attributes, no matter who backed him up. (He cited Linda Blair’s character from The Exorcist as a vocal influence.)
Their final effort, 2014’s White Worm Cathedral showed Necrophagia in fine form, still creating quality creepy-crawly death metal with those Killjoy growls and Mirai Kawashima’s eerie keyboard textures. Thirty years into their career, Necrophagia had refined their attack, and yet, they were very much still the same, still inspired by the horror and gore movies that Killjoy had long championed, still creating that fetid, oozing atmosphere that permeated their metal through and through. White Worm didn’t make them well-known either, but for those of us who’d been keeping up, it was another feather in a finely rotten cap, one that’s gone too soon.
RIP Frank “Killjoy” Pucci — the legacy of horror, gore, and sickness lives on.