Steeve Hurdle’s Facebook profile is still adorned with a slogan he put up on May 10: “If we all understood that everyone has their own battles to fight, insecurities to face, loves to contend and goals to attain, the world would be a gentler place.” Though one might be forgiven for finding that slogan surprising given Hurdle’s creation of caustic and visceral death metal with PURULENCE, GORGUTS and NEGATIVA, he was, in his giant heart, a gentle man who died before his time on May 20 at the age of 41 after post-surgical complications.
I met Hurdle in 2006 when he invited me to his Montreal apartment for a BW&BK interview to discuss Negativa, his Quebec supergroup that also featured Luc Lemay (Gorguts), Étienne Galo (AUGURY) and Miguel Valade (ION DISSONANCE). Negativa’s self-titled debut EP was about to be released, and it was an impressive coronation of what made Hurdle’s contributions to Gorguts so great: it was innovative, impressive and, most strikingly, intensely without compromise. This new band was the real deal, and no mere side project. Steeve Hurdle was intensely proud of his latest creation, as he should have been. Hurdle was once again teaching a generation of metal fans how real innovation is fostered.
Hurdle’s compassion and kind nature was evident in the interactions one had with him. Hurdle was a sensitive and good man whose passionate love of a wide spectrum of different music was impressive, as one week he recommended TALKING HEADS or DEAD CAN DANCE, and the next he was spinning CATHEDRAL, CONFESSOR and IMMORTAL.
Hurdle’s philosophical approach to life is also to be commended, as his inquisitive and truth-seeking nature was always on display. Though not a Buddhist per se, he practiced many of the tenets of the faith, and his love and respect for others was always in full view. He was a proponent of the “Garder espoir, prendre le temps de vivre, respirer à pleins poumons, et devenir conscient de soi meme” (French for: “Stay hopeful, take the time to live, take deep breaths, and become conscious of yourself” ) ethos that was not only a part of his everyday life, but also a part of his song-writing and musical vision. One needs only to take a look at the meditating figure on the cover of Gorguts’ beyond influential Obscura to see this influence.
Hurdle’s thoughtful nature was again on display online when he posted the following two slogans: “Le premier ennemi à combattre est à l`intérieure de soi. Souvent, c`est le seul” (“The first enemy to fight is your inner self. Often, it’s the only one) by Christine Orban and, “In 20 years, you will be more disappointed by what you didn’t do than by what you did” from Mark Twain. Hurdle always gave us material to think about both in his music and in his life away from metal, and for that we will remain grateful.
In a year that has already lost too many Canadian metal friends in David Gold (WOODS OF YPRES), Robert Cranny (NORTHERN STORM RECORDS), Rob Doherty (FINAL DARKNESS, ex-INTO ETERNITY) and now the affable and always very kind Hurdle, we utter a large sigh of sadness and hope these deaths in 2012, and beyond, will come to an end. This is a Canadian metal scene that is still shocked by the loss of our dear friend Adrian Bromley (UNRESTRAINED! magazine) and incredible metal architect/figurehead Denis “Piggy” D’Amour (VOIVOD).
Steeve, répose en paix, mon ami. Here’s hoping you’re somewhere philosophizing with the best of them while listening to your favorite records and playing your double-neck guitar.