Chicago death/thrash lords USURPER have officially parted ways with vocalist General Diabolical Slaughter. However, the band, who have no intentions of breaking up, will still go ahead with their previously announced performance at the "Holidays Of Horror Six" Festival (with the help of a "special guest vocals) on December 26, according to a posting on the group's web site.The following is USURPER guitarist Rick S. Scythe's official statement on the matter: "The rumors are true, General Diabolical Slaughter has quit USURPER! I would like to say this is a shock, but it isn't. Unfortunately the General's substance abuse problems and his declining health have been factors for the last year or so. The last tour we did this summer with ENSLAVED was definitely an eye opener. Not only did we have a lame replacement drummer in the band, but the General was so fucked up that he couldn't remember most of the lyrics, even to songs we've been playing for 10 years. On top of that, his health problems negatively affected his stage presence, as well as his shitty attitude. We knew we had a problem with the General, but we were optimistic. "We thought that getting the original drummer back in the band would spark an interest in USURPER again. For the rest of us, it did. USURPER was running like a well oiled tank again! We were playing old songs that we haven't played in many years with a new surge of energy, and the songs off 'Twilight Dominion' sounded even better than on the album. Unfortunately that wasn't the case for the vocals. On the days that the General actually did show up to practice, he not only couldn't remember any lyrics, but he couldn't catch his breath while singing and he was visibly unhealthy looking. "We all tried to talk to the General about his decline, but he never wanted to discuss the matter. The rest of the band was feeling he needed some time away to get healthy again. Not that we're straight edge health nuts or something, because we're not. We all love to drink and have a good time, but the difference is that the rest of us know our limits. We never let any substances alter our ability to perform. And none of us would ever hit the stage without being 100% able to deliver the goods both musically and physically. "We wanted to tour Europe early 2004, but knew that the General was in no shape to walk up a few flights of stairs, much less travel to Europe and hit the road. So we figured we would do the Internet concert and then finish the year with the 'Holidays Of Horror' festival here in Chicago. After our obligations for 2003 were done, we decided that me and Joe (Apocalyptic Warlord, drums) would work on some new songs, and then regroup, tour Europe in the summer, and then come back and prepare to record a new album. We felt that by April 2004, if General wasn't up to par both musically and physically, then we'd officially do the Euro tour and the next album without him. "We did our Internet radio concert on November 8th this year, and he seemed fine. He had to sit down during the performance, and he needed to read all the lyrics off a piece of paper, but we had a blast. Even the General had a new sense of energy... or so it seemed. But then out of nowhere he left me a voice message on my phone on Monday November 10 saying that he 'was done' and that he felt he was a wreck, and never wanted to sing again. He said he just wanted to smoke weed, drink, eat and play video games. I talked to him on the phone after I got the message and tried to convince him to at least do the 'Holiday Of Horror' Fest. He said he would get back to me, but never did. "The rest of the band called him and tried to convince him to end his career on a high note. To do the show, announce his retirement on stage and give the fans something to remember him by. We thought he should do it out of respect for the name USURPER, out of respect for the die-hard USURPER 'Necrocult Warriors of Iron and Rust' as well as for Chicago Metal history... this was the first time, (and possibly the only time) the two biggest extreme metal bands from Chicago, (MACABRE and USURPER) were to do a show together. General said that he didn't care about any of those factors... So that's it. The General is officially out of USURPER. "What does all this mean? First of all, USURPER IS NOT BREAKING UP!!! The rest of the band is sounding better than ever, and we all knew that the General was probably not going to be part of the band starting in 2004. We knew that we almost definitely needed to get a new singer, someone who has the ways of old metal pumping through their metal heart, we just thought the General would handle his departure from the band with some dignity and class. We thought he would want to end his career on a high note, finish his obligations, and pass the torch down to next heir to the USURPER mic... but he didn't. "Also, lyrically nothing will change. Since 'Skeletal Season' was written (1997,1998), I wrote about 90% of the lyrics, and on 'Necronemesis' (2000), I actually wrote 100% of the lyrics, and I always wrote almost all of the music. So lyrically and musically the General's departure will have no effect on USURPER. "Finally, USURPER will still play the December 26 concert here in Chicago (directly supporting MACABRE for the Holidays Of Horror Fest at Metro, 3730 North Clark Steet, Chicago, Illinois 60613). Instead of marking the end of one phase, it will triumphantly mark the beginning of a new phase. Once again USURPER IS NOT BREAKING UP!!!"