Guitarist Lou "Boulder" Richards, a former member of Connecticut hardcore outfit Hatebreed, died on Wednesday at the age of 35, according to a statement issued by the band Thursday night.
The official cause of Richards' death has not been released, but Hatebreed's statement suggests it may have been at his own hands. A publicist for the group would not confirm or deny rumors that Richards committed suicide.
"As many of you may have heard, and we were sorry to learn, our former guitar player Lou 'Boulder' Richards passed away yesterday," reads the statement. "It is very unfortunate that he could not see any other way to conquer his demons. We hope he has finally found some peace. Our hearts go out to Vera" — Richards' grandmother — "and his family and friends."
Richards left Hatebreed in 2002, and the band continued on as a quartet until earlier this year, when Frank "3 Gun" Novinec (formerly of Terror, Ringworm and Integrity) joined as a second guitarist. At the time of Richards' departure, Hatebreed said in a statement that they'd had "some of the best times of our lives [with Richards] and things have been going really well. But his heart just wasn't in it anymore and we totally understand and support his decision to move on with his life. He had six great years with us and we feel that he is irreplaceable so we will remain a four piece. We wish him the best."
Richards appears on Hatebreed's 1997 debut Satisfaction is the Death of Desire, as well as 2000's Under the Knife EP and 2002's Perseverance. Hatebreed's most recent studio effort, Supremacy, was released late last month — just weeks after the finale of this summer's 11th annual Ozzfest. Hatebreed shared the festival's main stage with DragonForce, Lacuna Coil, Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, System of a Down, and — on some dates — Ozzy Osbourne.
An outpouring of grief has inundated Hatebreed's MySpace page, with fans expressing their condolences within hours of the band's official confirmation that Richards had indeed passed away.
" 'Boulder' is a legend," wrote one fan. "He was an integral part of the classic Hatebreed sound and is responsible for all those classic riffs we love the most. I was fortunate enough to see my first Hatebreed show while he was still your guitarist when [you] guys opened for Sepultura. My heart and prayers go out to the band, his friends and family."
Tonight, Hatebreed will be bringing their Monsters of Mayhem Tour to Harpo's in Detroit. The band's current trek, featuring the Black Dahlia Murder, Napalm Death, Exodus, Despised Icon and First Blood, runs through October 12 in Seattle.