Very sad news in the metal community broke today: reports have surfaced that Richard Brunelle, former guitarist of legendary death metal band Morbid Angel, passed away this past Monday (9/23). His former bandmate Pete Sandoval seems to confirm the news on Instagram, writing:

RIP #richardbrunelle
This is really sad!
So many great memories we shared together that I'll never forget, hope and wish you are in a better place.
My condolences to his family.
"I just received an email of his family letting me know about this sad new, please, a little respect guys, don't ask me the cause of death or something like that, does it matter? he just passed away and that's sad"

UPDATE: Blabbermouth reports that Richard's sister-in-law Megan Box-Brunelle also confirmed the news in a Facebook post, where she wrote, "this is Richie's sister-in-law. This devastating post is at the request of my husband and his mother. It is with deep regret and sorrow that we inform Richie's friends and fans that he passed away [on Monday]. Please feel free to visit the link to share memories and condolences. Rest in peace, Richie. You were so loved and will be forever missed."

Richard was 55. No cause of death has been reported at this time.

Richard joined Morbid Angel in 1985 and stayed with them through 1992, and he played on their first two classic albums, 1989's Altars of Madness and 1991's Blessed Are the Sick. Just last year, he had launched a new project, Mosaic Covenant.

Death metal as we know it wouldn't exist without Altars of Madness. Rest in peace, Richard. Your contributions to music won't be forgotten.

UPDATE 2: Former bandmate Mike Browning also posted a statement:

More From Brooklyn Vegan