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Substance D, the heavy, heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California, began its life as a band called Black, which was made up of the three members who remain today: Todd Chaisson on lead vocals and bass, T on drums and "alternate wails", and Michael Parnin on guitars and background vocals. When the band wanted to rename itself shortly after the release of their self-titled first album (released in Europe in 1994), they looked to the work of Philip K. Dick, whose vision of a dark future filled with madness in his book A Scanner Darkly and others seemed to fit the image the band wanted to project. Substance D is the name for a destructive, addictive substance called "Dumbness and Despair and Desertion . . . finally Death. Slow Death."
The first recordings made under the name Black were done in bits and pieces on studio time paid for by other bands. Parnin was working as a sound engineer at a variety of L.A. studios (he has engineered for bands like Marilyn Manson, Limp Bizkit, and Coal Chamber) and when a particular band went home, often in the wee hours of the morning, he would call in the members from Black and they would lay down as many tracks as they could. The result was that their first album took about two years to make. The band struggled for six years without writing any new material, and the bleak point of view afforded by stumbling along in the music industry influenced their next album, released in 1999 by Noise. Addictions, a dark, hook-laden treatise on human wastelands, featured a dark metal/industrial sound and the kind of dystopian lyrics appropriate for a band called Substance D.