Atlanta-based hard-rock outfit Moonlust will take the stage at Boggs Social & Supply on Sunday with Sasquatch, Hippie Death Cult and Buzzards of Fuzz for a night of heavy music and wild abandon. The show is part of a recent flurry of activity for the band that has seen their local star on the rise. But for Moonlust bassist Jenny Mac, the show is part of a slow and steady healing process in the face of a tragedy that shook not only her own life but the music world as a whole.

On May 11, Michigan-based death metal band The Black Dahlia Murder announced that lead vocalist Trevor Strnad — who had recently moved to Atlanta — had passed away. The band’s official statement indicated that the death was the result of suicide.

The news was devastating for millions of heavy-metal enthusiasts the world over. For fans, Strnad was a god among men: the thundering growl that ruptured eardrums with dark tales of apocalyptic horror and visceral catharsis. For 21 years, he led his band on an upward trajectory with a series of albums that garnered critical acclaim and levels of commercial success often believed impossible for extreme metal acts: 2011’s Ritual, 2013’s Everblack, and 2017’s Nightbringers all placed in the Billboard Top 40, securing the band’s position as titans of the music world.

But for Mac, Strnad was much more: he was a lover, a partner, and, above all, a friend. Theirs was a relationship that began in fandom before graduating into friendship and eventually blossoming into love. At the time of his passing, they had just declared their engagement to one another but had not yet made the news public.

Trevor Strnad
Mac says that Strnad (center) felt pressure to live up to the persona that he built on stage with The Black Dahlia Murder.

Mac had been a fan of The Black Dahlia Murder after listening to the album Miasma at age 15, falling in love with the band’s intense music and Strnad’s metal-god aura. “I was so enraptured by him and his stage persona,” she says. “He looked like he came alive on stage. It looked like he was having the time of his life. I loved the way he would conduct the crowd — people called it ‘casting spells’ — the stuff he was doing with his hands.”

Many years later, a chance encounter would bring them together. “I met Trevor for the first time at the original Masquerade in 2014,” says Mac. “I was there with the guy I was seeing at the time, who knew one of the bartenders. So we were there after the venue cleared out and Trevor had come up from the basement. I saw him and said, ‘You were wonderful’ and he gave me a hug like we’d known each other for a thousand years.”

The meeting was Mac’s introduction to the man behind the rock-star persona and it was one that she found to be warm, inviting and deeply sincere. “He made you feel like you were the only person in the room when you talked to him,” she says. “He made you feel like he had been your best friend for 20 years. He was one of those wonderful, genuine people.”

Mac’s friendship with Strnad blossomed into romance in 2021.

In the years that followed, Mac and Strnad would continue to encounter one another through mutual friends and connections in the death-metal community, eventually developing a personal rapport. “We were friends for a few years before we started dating,” she says. “We didn’t think either of the other was a romantic possibility at all, so we told each other everything.” The result was a mutual awareness of a burgeoning connection that went deeper than either expected.

The friendship became a relationship in late 2021 and Strnad relocated to Atlanta to live with Mac, bringing his infectious personality with him. The result was a pairing full of mutual enthusiasm that the couple enjoyed in both their social and private lives. “We always said we rolled high for charisma,” jokes Mac, a reference to the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. But for all their wild exuberance, there was no doubt in Mac’s mind that the relationship was rooted in a deep and incomparable love. “That man showed me a love I never knew was possible. I never knew that somebody could love any other person so completely.”

Mac paints a detailed portrait of the man she loved, always highlighting his insatiable passion for creating that infused everything from his work as a vocalist to his regular editorial column for the heavy-metal news site Metal Injection and private interests such as his love of drawing and art. Still, she acknowledges that public adoration weighed heavily on Strnad. “I think he felt a lot of pressure from the persona that he built and maintaining that for everybody,” she says. “And he knew with me he didn’t have to do that. I like to say we were one weirdo in two bodies.”

For all his warmth, Strnad’s magnetic, larger-than-life personality had its own dark underpinnings. “He struggled with a lot of anxiety,” says Mac. “That’s part of this persona that he felt he had to live up to and that’s sometimes why he partied the way he did. That breaks my heart for him because he was incredible and he didn’t have to be anybody but who he was and I wish that he had known that.”

As Mac would learn from Strnad and those that knew him best, the singer had faced a lifelong battle with cycles of depression and anxiety, something that fueled the band’s darkly introspective lyrics. “I would assume writing some of those lyrics probably helped,” she says. “Maybe for a time.”

Nevertheless, Strnad would eventually tell his fiancee, “I feel like I’ve run out of words.” Mac realized in retrospect just what that despairing observation implied.

Trevor Strnad
Mac says the death of Strnad’s mother left him in a vulnerable state of mind. (Photo by Marc Caseres)

On May 7, Strnad joined Mac at the wedding of her best friend and appeared to be in good, celebratory spirits. He socialized in his usually gregarious manner and spoke lovingly of Mac and their relationship. The good cheer belied a much deeper pain — Strnad had recently experienced his first birthday without his mother, who had passed away the previous fall. Her death left him in a dark and vulnerable emotional state.

Three days after the wedding, Trevor Strnad ended his life. Mac had invited him to join her at a Moonlust band practice but he opted to stay home. “I didn’t get home in time and I’ll never forgive myself for that,” she says. “But he was texting me like everything was normal and we got to say ‘I love you.’”

The loss of Strnad sent Mac into a nightmare world of personal anguish, one she’s navigated with close support from friends and family. As is the case with so many creatives, she’s found solace and healing in her craft, one that developed alongside her ongoing relationship with Strnad. She found a home with Moonlust earlier this year.

The band’s particular brand of Southern-fried, doomy hard rock has caught on with Atlanta audiences, thanks to recent gigs at the Catacombs and the 529. Their concert at Boggs will be a high point of the band’s career, opening for the Los Angeles-based stoner-metal band Sasquatch.

For Mac, the performance at Boggs will be a homecoming of sorts, as it was there that she originally met Moonlust frontwoman Major Leigh in March. “Since I lost Trevor, playing with Moonlust has been the only peace I’ve felt,” says Mac. “These people have been so good to me and they loved Trevor too.”

If you or a loved one is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.


Jordan Owen began writing about music professionally at the age of 16 in Oxford, Mississippi. A 2006 graduate of the Berklee College of Music, he is a professional guitarist, bandleader and composer. He is currently the lead guitarist for the jazz group Other Strangers, the power metal band Axis of Empires and the melodic death/thrash metal band Century Spawn.

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