Left To Die’s Gus Rios on ‘Leprosy’ as the Sound of Perseverance

Last year I summoned up the courage to write an editorial about the worst day of my life, my suicide attempt in 2019. Some of you may have read it, many sent me messages, a few were very moving… which made the severe discomfort of sharing that with world completely worth it. Earlier this month, I completed a tour that would have never happened—for me anyway—if I had succeeded with my permanent solution to what I have learned was a temporary problem. Not that life isn’t still difficult—and am I hardly a ball of sunshine either. I still have therapy once a week and fight off the demons daily, but with said therapy I have learned to cope with my childhood trauma and live in the present with much weaker demons.

In 1988 I was in middle school and got a copy of Death’s Leprosy album from my buddy Scott. I had already heard Scream Bloody Gore and was fan, but Leprosy was the death metal version of Reign in Blood for me…in that genre defining and game changing kind of way. DEATH METAL was now a thing! This was no longer thrash metal and I was hooked! This little-known and sonically atrocious genre would go on to become an integral and life changing force in my life. The countless friends I’ve made along with the several countries and many continents that I have performed in—all because of death metal.

As I explained earlier, I recently completed a tour with my heroes and good friends Terry Butler and Rick Rozz playing Leprosy—an album that means the world to me—in its entirety. The significance of this didn’t really hit me until the last few days. It’s the summer and I will never forget where I was mentally in July of 2019. I not only had no will to live, but almost a compulsion to end my life. Now here I am three years and one pandemic later partaking in a dream tour.

I can’t help but think of that tormented version of me from before. A lifetime of unresolved trauma and self-hatred almost prevented me from simply “seeing where this goes.” Life isn’t easy, and I am certainly not here to throw on rose-colored glasses and bullshit anyone. Life is ugly, hard and very often unforgiving. But in the face of adversity and disaster, coming out on the other side can also give such a sense of strength and accomplishment. If we can learn to take that strength and use it to our advantage and fight…well, I am living proof of what can happen. And that, my friends, is the sound of perseverance. Let the metal flow…

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Help is available 24 hours a day in English or Spanish.