Metal File: Iron Maiden, Mastodon, Cannibal Corpse, Turbonegro & Strapping Young Lad In This Week's Hard News

British metal legends to miss last several dates of Ozzfest.

Devin Townsend's not crazy. It's not that he's defensive about it ("I'd like to say I'm fine," he said, "but then I listen to some of the music and I'm like, 'No, you're not' "), but the truth is he's not crazy in the purest sense of the word. However, the exalted, follicle-challenged Canadian guitarist behind Strapping Young Lad (as well as a host of epic-sized progressive solo projects he's released through his Hevy Devy label) is an insane musical genius — in much the same vein as Mozart.

Seriously.

Take his approach to writing lyrics. While there's no underlying theme to Strapping Young Lad's latest, Alien, a record that took a year to write and record, "if there is a message at all, it's I don't know what's going on," he said.

"With Alien, it was just random firings of information. I'm in the dubious position, as a singer, of having to write lyrics. So what am I interested in? Screaming, random thoughts, and I really like chaos. As opposed to having any theme, it's everything in the kitchen sink, and then put echo on it, and then put an explosion on that."

SYL's been around awhile, and for those in the metal know, they're almost a closely guarded secret. But this summer they'll get the kind of exposure only a festival tour can bring, thanks to the Sounds of the Underground. Townsend's excited about hitting the road: "I've got a new amp and a bunch of new guitars, so I look forward to getting out there and shaking my head and going 'RAAH' a lot."

Strapping recently shot a video for the track "Love?," and Alien hits stores Tuesday.

The rest of the week's metal news:

Roadrunner Records will mark its 25th anniversary with the tentatively titled Roadrunner All-Stars album, due this fall. To be produced by Slipknot's Joey Jordison, Fear Factory's Dino Cazares, Machine Head's Robert Flynn and one other yet-to-be-named Roadrunner alum, the disc will include original tracks written and performed by current and former members of Coal Chamber, Soulfly, Chimaira, Spineshank and Obituary. Each song will feature a different vocalist. ... According to Iron Maiden's Web site, the band will not be performing on the final seven dates of this year's "Longhairs Across America" tour — also known as Ozzfest 2005 — disappointing fans in New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina and Florida. Why? Previous touring commitments overseas conflict with the dates, according to informed sources. It's believed — but far from confirmed — that Ozzfest will soon add another high-profile band to this year's main-stage lineup. ...

Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler will issue Ohmwork, the second album by his solo band, GZR, on May 10. The release will be Butler's first solo album in eight years and will include the single "I Believe." Any touring in support of the release will have to happen after the completion of Ozzfest, which is once again being headlined by Sabbath. ... Ozzfest 2005 prog-metallers Mastodon recently shot a video with director Jonathan Rej for the track "Blood and Thunder" from the sludge purveyors' Leviathan. The band will kick off its U.S. headlining tour Wednesday at New Orleans' House of Blues. ... Anomalies, the next album from self-described "Rocky Mountain hydro-grind" specialists Cephalic Carnage, will drop March 21. ... Mathcore's finest, the Red Chord, will release Clients on May 17. They'll also shoot a video for the track "Lay the Tarp" just before hitting the road with Bury Your Dead, A Life Once Lost and If Hope Dies on March 27. ...

Catch 33, the latest from experimental Swedish metallers Meshuggah, will see the light of day May 31, according to the band's American label, Nuclear Blast. The album's going to feature one uninterrupted track that clocks in at 47 minutes but is broken into 13 distinct parts. ... Guitarist Rob Barrett will once again be teaming up with Cannibal Corpse next month for the death metal collective's headlining gig at the Northwest Death Fest in Seattle, according to a posting on the band's Web site. It is unclear whether Barrett, who was with the band from 1993 to 1997, will continue on with the Corpse after this one show. Metal File will keep you posted. ... Following numerous show cancellations and the departure of their two guitarists, Eric and Brian Hoffman, Deicide will return to the road May 26 in Ottawa, Ontario. Frontman Glen Benton and drummer Steve Asheim will be joined by touring guitarists Jack Owen (ex-Cannibal Corpse) and Dave Suzuki (Vital Remains). Dates run through June 22 in San Antonio, Texas, with Skinless, Misery Index and With Passion opening all shows. ...

Six Feet Under, the death metal band fronted by ex-Cannibal Corpse singer Chris Barnes, will release their new album, 13, on Tuesday. The disc follows up 2003's Bringer of Blood and will include the tracks "Decomposition of the Human Race," "Somewhere in the Darkness" and "Shadow of the Reaper." The band recently shot a video for the latter with director Gary Smithson. In addition, Six Feet Under filmed their March 16 concert in Berlin for possible inclusion on their box set, due later this year. ... Throwdown have finished recording "Vendetta," the follow-up to 2003's Haymaker, with producer Zeuss (Hatebreed, Shadows Fall) at his Planet Z Studios. The album is due in July and will include a guest appearance from Killswitch Engage vocalist Howard Jones, who joined the band onstage at a couple of Ozzfest stops last year. ... Evanescence drummer Rocky Gray, better known in metal circles as guitarist for the defunct Christian bands Living Sacrifice and Soul Embraced, has formed a side project called the Burning, who are busy demoing material. In related news, Solid State Records will release the Living Sacrifice best-of collection In Memoriam, which includes a handful of newly recorded songs, on March 29. ...

As I Lay Dying singer Tim Lambesis has formed an imprint through Pluto Records called Clockwork Recordings, which will release the debut album from Arizona's Life in Pictures on April 19. ... Terror will head out on a U.S. tour with Remembering Never and the Acacia Strain in April. ... D.C. thrashers Darkest Hour have been hard at work in the studio in recent weeks with producer Devin Townsend (Lamb of God, Soilwork), recording the follow-up to 2003's Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation. So far, the band's written 10 songs. Darkest Hour's new DVD, "Party Scars and Prison Bars - A Thrashography," is now available and features live footage, music videos and behind-the-scenes hilarity. Yes, hilarity. ... Canadian deathcore six-piece Despised Icon will embark on a massive Canadian tour alongside Ion Dissonance and Premonitions of War later this month. In addition, the band will be making its first U.S. appearance during the Maryland Deathfest, which will rattle Baltimore's House of Rock May 28 and 29; the group's latest, The Healing Process, will be in stores April 5. ...

Everyone's favorite Norwegians Turbonegro will release their latest gem, Party Animals, on May 9. Alas, American fans of punk metal's answer to the Village People will be sad to learn the album, featuring tracks titled "Wasted Again" and "Blow Me (Like the Wind)," will only be available in Europe — initially, anyway. ... Sludgy doom merchants Eyehategod's tour will kick off May 15 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and wrap up June 18 in Kings Fort, Tennessee, at the Tennessee Metal and Hardcore Fest. Grindcore pioneers Napalm Death are getting ready to return with their first studio album in nearly three years. The Code Is Red ... Long Live the Code, due April 19, features their fastest and most political songs since 1992's Utopia Banished. "The title is a play on the phrase 'The king is dead, long live the king,' " explains guitarist Mitch Harris. "It's about the color code system that went along with the terrorist activity in the U.S., and the viciousness of the record is really a reflection of the political climate." ...

Canadian death metal band Cryptopsy won't release their next album until the end of the year, but they're offering fans a teaser now. The group has posted a pre-production version of "Carrionshine" on its Web site, cryptopsy.net. The track features the return of original vocalist Lord Worm, who quit after 1995's None So Vile. Cryptopsy will tour with Cattle Decapitation, Devilinside and the Autumn Offering thru April 22. ... Energetic Canadian riff-rockers Danko Jones will release their third album, We Sweat Blood, on April 19. Six days later, the group will launch a North American tour in New York that will circle the country before returning to wrap up in Brooklyn on May 24. ...