Mat Arluck, guitarist for Chicago metallers Sweet Cobra, has died at a medical facility in Seattle, where he was receiving cancer treatments. Arluck was first diagnosed with cancer three years ago, and had been battling the disease ever since. He was 39 years old.

"We were definitely a lucky bunch of guys to have him join our band," says Sweet Cobra drummer Jason Gagovski. "He's one of the most honest and amazing people we've met. We've learned a lot from him. We're just thankful that we had him for the time that we did."

Arluck, who also played in the bands Cooler by the Lake, Stabbed by Words and Closing In, did not let his illness stop him from playing with the band, at first. Then, about a year ago, when it became too much for him, he left the fold. He decided he wouldn't be able to accompany the band on a tour with Russian Circles and Pelican but urged the remaining three members to follow through with the trek as planned. In recent years, Arluck underwent several surgeries to remove tumors from his liver and spine.

Arluck's passing comes just as word of mouth is starting to spread about the group. He did contribute music to the group's forthcoming third LP, 'Mercy,' which hits record stores this spring through Black Market Activities.

Sweet Cobra will carry on as a band, just as Arluck would have wanted it. "He would've smacked us around a bit if we'd pussed out," says Gagovski.