Former Absu guitarist Melissa Moore (known as Vis Crom during her time with the band) has been sharing details about her exit from the band in recent days, detailing how she was let go by Russ R. Givens (Proscriptor McGovern in Absu) after coming out as transgender in 2017, and the transphobic treatment she endured immediately following that. These revelations came directly after the announcement last Friday that Givens and bassist Paul Wiliamson (aka Ezezu) have re-branded the outfit as Proscriptor McGovern’s Apsû after announcing Absu’s allegedly permanent dissolution earlier this year.
Moore has already leveled a number of disturbing accusations against Givens, including a screen shot of a text exchange in which he expressed concern for his legacy by having a transgender person in the band and saying that “there is no place for a woman” in Absu. In the days since her initial posts, Melissa has continued explaining what has happened since, detailing how Givens attempted to use music Moore wrote for new Absu material against her express wishes, culminating in a potential legal standoff that instead saw Givens abandon ship, change the band’s name and start over.
Here is the entirety of Melissa’s three recent posts condensed into one and edited slightly for clarity:
“Agonia Records said that none of my music is being used in any way. I’m surprised because until the bitter end my ex-band kept trying to sneak it through the old label Spinefarm/Candlelight (who did the right thing by not being willing to release an album under the self inflicted circumstances). This is a relief as I have plans for those songs. I will still tell this story in full. It’s been a heavy weight for 3 years and I’m sick of carrying it around.
“The second I hung up on Russ [after this conversation] he texted me something like ‘I really hate this situation can we talk’ and I said I hate it too and maybe we can talk at some point but definitely not now.
“Keep in mind this is a nightmare situation in every way for me. It’s not like I get anything positive by pulling my tracks from the Absu album we had been working on for years and years. Everything I put into that is just a complete waste. But no matter what, I was going to be erased. My choice was to erase myself, or let them take what they wanted from me and then erase me.
“So over the next weeks Russ left me a bunch of voicemails and text messages being like ‘I’m sorry I raised my voice at you on the phone’ and ‘you know I didn’t even fire you in that text, I was drunk’ etc. This was a lie. Before our ‘You fired yourself’ phone call he told the other members that he had kicked me out and even texted Dan from Possessed to ask if he would join for the live lineup to take my spot because I was ‘going through some things’ He literally messaged Dan the second after he text fired me.
“He only ever apologized because I was taking something away from him that he wanted. He had to act sorry to get it back. It sounded like he was literally reading from a script. The apology didn’t even acknowledge the treating me like shit for being trans, he was just sorry for yelling back at me when I called him out on it.
“Also, when I came out to them it was on our last scheduled tour and we literally had nothing coming up but finishing the vocals for the album on the horizon. It was totally pointless to fire me right after the final tour. I was monstrous on stage as always. And there was limitless time ahead of us. Like I totally get that this was shocking and unexpected but I literally didn’t ask them to do anything. There weren’t any future gigs. Nothing was imminent for the band. Maybe they’ve played live since 2017, but not that I know of. I know they definitely didn’t put out a record. Zero logic.
“In early 2019 Candlelight/Spinefarm reached out to me because Absu was trying to finish the vocals on the album and wanted more money. They needed all musicians to sign off but Russ told them I quit the band so there was no need to get my approval.
“The label was suspicious and did their research.
“Here’s a summary of my conversation with the label (they did their best in an awkward situation and I’m grateful):
“-The album was not legally able to exist unless I was willing to sign something. An Absu album can’t legally come out with my songs and performance unless I want it to.
-Usually these kinds of disputes between band members are about money. Something about royalties was brought up and I was asked ‘Is there any way you would rejoin the band?’ Not a chance.
-The label brought up that Russ would probably be asked about me in every interview so how could there be peace? – I said he’ll just try to gloss over me being trans even if he ‘praises’ me. This is already ruined for me, but it’s a shame because maybe some gendery kid in a Bathory shirt would have cracked their egg if they read about the guitarist of Absu being a trans chick.
“So nothing happened.
“9 months later the label reached out to me AGAIN with the same basic question. Whats it going to take to get this album out.
“Meanwhile I’m thinking ‘Why am I even having this conversation. I literally don’t want this album or band in my life any more. How can I scare them off once and for all?’
“Tell Russ if they put the trans symbol on the front cover of the album I’ll sign the paper.’ I allowed just enough time for them to panic over this defacement of their legacy as a final fuck you and then I quickly announced that I wasn’t letting them use my songs.
“They broke up.
“I hope they aren’t trying to steal my songs again for all of our sakes.”
Horrifying stuff. Bravo to Melissa for sharing all of us after holding in those painful experiences for the past three years.
Givens has yet to comment on any of the accusations raised by Moore in the past week.