In fall 2004, Montreal metalcore band A Perfect Murder seemed destined to enter the hallowed halls of Hot Topic. Their sophomore album, Unbroken, released that summer, met with favorable reviews as a major buzz built around an upcoming New York showcase.
But singer Frank Pellerin, guitarist Kevin Lemire and bassist Luc Verville all quit at once days before the concert, and A Perfect Murder were forced to cancel not only the showcase but also their entire U.S. tour. Then, two weeks after its final concert with the old lineup, the band's van was broken into and all of its gear and merchandise stolen.
"We were in Quebec City and there was a winter snowstorm, so we decided to leave the van and trailer together in the parking lot of our rehearsal place and come back the next day," guitarist Carl Bouchard recalled. "We lost about $30,000."
Discouraged and broke, Bouchard thought breaking up the band would be easier than finding replacements. But the closer he came to giving up, the more an inner voice cried out in protest. "Music is my life," he said, "so I was like, 'Man, I don't want to stop doing this.' But it was just me and the drummer. So I went up to [drummer] Yan [Chausse] and said, 'Well, maybe that's it.' And he said, 'F--- off. I don't want to work in a factory. I just want to play music.' So I was like, 'All right, let's do it right, then.' "
Fans of bands like Lamb of God and Unearth will be glad A Perfect Murder didn't surrender. The band's third album, Strength Through Vengeance, is punishing and raw. It's far more metallic and technical than Unbroken but brutal enough to placate the band's hardcore fans. Of course, before A Perfect Murder could create the album, they had to rebuild from the ground up.
The first new member to step onboard was guitarist Pierre Remillard, a local engineer who had previously played in the band Obliveon. Next came Dave B, who originally wanted to play guitar but switched to bass when he found out Remillard was aboard. In December, a brief search for a singer led them to Kevin Randel, a Nashville belter who sent A Perfect Murder an e-mail saying he sounded like Pantera's Phil Anselmo and wanted to join. Bouchard, whose nickname is Dimebouch after the late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, was excited about having a vocalist who resembled his hero.
"I told him to fly over here and then I asked him to record his vocals on some of the preproduction songs," Bouchard said. "After we had a listen to what he'd done, we said, 'OK, that's the man for the job.' "
Bouchard wrote much of Strength Through Vengeance while A Perfect Murder were looking for the perfect members. Driven by the turbulence he'd experienced, he penned relentless, angry and energetic material. "It was a pissed-off time for me, so I wanted something totally thrash metal like Slayer, Metallica and Testament," he said. "Everything came from that. But of course it was all combined with my other influences, so it has maybe a more modern sound."
A Perfect Murder entered a Quebec studio to record Strength Through Vengeance in March and worked for three weeks. Although the pressure was on, the process was fairly smooth. The calm didn't last, however. When the record was done, Remillard quit because he didn't want to tour and A Perfect Murder had to begin their guitar search anew. Rather than undergo exhausting auditions, Bouchard hired his friend Dominic Poisson, whom he knew would be loyal and diligent. "He has always wanted to play with us," Bouchard said, "so I taught him the songs and he worked out really well."
With the lineup secure and musically tighter than ever, A Perfect Murder are plowing through North America with Soilent Green (dates run through September 17 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana). And while they're happy to finally be seen by U.S. audiences, Bouchard said exposure is only part of the goal. "I really want to show people we're different from what's going on right now," he said. "Metalcore bands are everywhere, so I want to be more midtempo and technical like Metallica or Pantera. In my heart, I always wanted to sound like a thrash-metal band."