Sad news for metal fans: Cory Smoot, aka Flattus Maximus, the guitarist for the hard-rocking costumed cult favorite Gwar, was found dead this morning by his bandmates as the band was preparing to cross the border into Canada for a show.

Gwar frontman Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus, released a statement to MetalSucks this morning:

It is with a sense of profound loss and tragedy that the members of GWAR must announce the passing of their long time guitarist and beloved friend Cory Smoot, also known to thousands of metal fans worldwide as Flattus Maximus. Cory was found deceased this morning as the band prepared for a border crossing. There is no word as to the cause of death and the members of GWAR are completely shocked and devastated that this has occurred.

At this point there is no word on arrangements and the disposition of the remainder of GWAR’s current North American tour, nor are there any details regarding long term plans. At this point we are just dealing with the loss of our dear friend and brother, one of the most talented guitar players in metal today. We ask that our fans and the media be respectful of our request for privacy for those that have suffered this terrible loss. A full statement will be coming in the next day or so, in the meantime please give your thoughts and your prayers to Cory, his family, and all the people that love him.

NME reports that Smoot had been with the band since 2002 and co-produced their 2006 album Beyond Hell and follow up Lust In Space. He was also the longest-serving player to embody Flattus Maximus in the band's 27-year history.

Just last week, Gwar buzz-sawed their body parts off on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon:

Although we've always been partial to their pot-brownie-fueled cameo on 1995's Empire Records: