They had just finished tracking drums for their second full-length album 'Core,' and were getting ready to finish the record when Gollum's drummer Hunter Holland suffered a fatal heart attack.

"It was September of 2008," guitarist Frank Stroehmer told Noisecreep. "We had just gotten signed and were all excited about the future, and Hunter had a heart attack out of the blue. It really shocked everyone because he was really healthy and always exercised. He'd quit eating meat for over a year, became a vegan and was in really good shape."

The band -- Stroehmer, his brother and bassist Serge, Holland and their new vocalist and sampler Shawn Corbett -- had just practiced the night before. Then, Holland drove up to Raleigh, N.C. to spend the night with his girlfriend. "The next morning he had a heart attack in his girlfriend's bed and died at her apartment," Stroehmer said. "She called all of us and told us the ambulance came and rushed him to the emergency room. She didn't know what was wrong with him. Everyone was freaking out. A couple hours later he was pronounced dead."

At first, Gollum considered breaking up. Then, at their friend's funeral, Holland's family members and friends urged them to find a new drummer and continue. "I was surprised that absolutely nobody wanted us to stop," said Stroehmer. That helped encourage us to keep going."

When he got back home, Stroehmer called drummer Seth Long, who had played with in his old instrumental prog rock band Triad, and asked him to join. "I knew he was really talented and he was the only one around town I would have considered that was fit to do the job," Stroehmer said. "I felt very comfortable bringing him in and to everyone's surprise, in a short amount of time he learned everything on 'Core' almost verbatim."

The band finished recording the album, which came out last April, then toured sporadically through the rest of the year. Gollum will play a handful of songs with Long through May 8 in Virginia Beach. After that, they plan to work on new material for their next album. "Having Seth has been a real blessing, to say the least," said Stroehmer. "For a little while we really thought it was all going to be over. I miss Hunter every day, but I know in my heart he would have wanted us to keep going."