Metal File: Opeth, Kirk Hammett, Soulfly, Venom, Darkest Hour & More In This Week’s Hard News

Swedish progressive death-metal outfit recording as-yet-untitled eighth album.

It’s been more than two months since Mikael Åkerfeldt’s progressive death-metal outfit Opeth entered a Swedish studio for what will be the highly technical band’s eighth album. Two weeks ago, Åkerfeldt told Metal File the record’s nearing completion but that there were still several critical details that needed sorting out — i.e. the album title, some lyrics — and a record label to release the damn thing.

Before this week, Sweden’s exalted sons were one of the world’s most wanted unsigned bands. But that all changed within the last couple of days, when Opeth finalized a deal with New York’s Roadrunner Records, bolstering an imposing roster that already includes Killswitch Engage, Slipknot, Obituary and Cradle of Filth.

Åkerfeldt, Opeth’s haunting vocalist/ ambitious guitarist, disclosed several details about the band’s forthcoming, self-produced opus. The follow-up to 2003′s acoustic masterpiece, Damnation, and Opeth’s first disc in years without producer Steve Wilson, the album will include “Ghost of Tradition,” “The Baying of the Hounds” and “Isolation Years.”

“Musically, Damnation was an experiment for us,” Åkerfeldt said. “It also helped us to develop our sound. So this time around, you can say the overall record is going to be heavy-sounding. There’s also a couple of songs that are more in the style of Damnation, so to speak. We also have a new member in the band, our keyboard player, Per Wiberg. So we have some vintage keyboards this time around on the heavy material as well. Overall, this one is heavy.”

Åkerfeldt said Opeth will finish the record before month’s end and expect to release it as early as late August. He also said they’ll play some new material this summer as part of the inaugural Sounds of the Underground tour.

“We’ve never done anything like [a festival tour] before, but this is a new thing, so we’re excited,” he said. “It’s a good chance to reach out to people who’ve never heard from us. I’m also looking forward to seeing Strapping Young Lad and Clutch perform. Many of the bands on the tour I’ve never heard of.”

The rest of the week’s metal news:

Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett has contributed guitar work to Carlos Santana‘s All That I Am, due September 13. As with his past two records, the disc will pair Santana with contemporary artists, but Hammett will likely be the only metal performer. Other acts on the record include Michelle Branch, Mary J. Blige, Big Boi, Black Eyed Peas, Los Lonely Boys, Sean Paul and Robert Randolph. … Ozzfest 2005′s As I Lay Dying‘s dedication is inspiring. Last week, the boys shot a video for forthcoming single “Confined” and endured more than a dozen hours in cold, hard rain to get all the shots just right. The video features performance footage of the band, filmed at an abandoned Air Force base in Tustin, California. “Only a couple of us are sick,” frontman Tim Lambesis reported. “That’s the good news.” …

Soulfly‘s Dark Ages, which hits stores September 13, will feature 14 tracks including “Carved Inside,” “Corrosion Creeps” and “Feel the Hate.” The effort was produced by Max Cavalera and will be mixed by Terry Date (Soundgarden, Pantera). … British black-metal progenitors Venom are in the studio working on the follow-up to 2000′s Resurrection and have posted the new track “Antechrist” on their Web site. The band — bassist and singer Cronos, guitarist Mykus and drummer Antton — recently struck a deal with Sanctuary Records to release the group’s early back catalog. … Montreal’s Unexpect are hard at work on their the End Records debut and, according to their Web site, are mapping a short East Coast summer tour. …

D.C.’s Darkest Hour shot a video for “Convalescence” in New Jersey on Wednesday with director Dale Resteghini (Hatebreed, Dillinger Escape Plan). The band’s forthcoming disc, Undoing Ruin, hits June 28. Guitarist Mike Schleibaum described the video as looking “ultra-super metal.” … The soundtrack for the forthcoming underwater thriller “The Cave,” slated for a July 12 release, will feature material from Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, Mastodon, Nightwish, Atreyu, Lacuna Coil, Bleeding Through, Strapping Young Lad, Bury Your Dead, Candiria, Trivium, It Dies Today and Devilinside. … A track list for Bury Your Dead’s Alive, due July 12, was revealed this week. The disc will feature 12 song titles inspired by Tom Cruise flicks: “Vanilla Sky,” “The Color of Money,” “Magnolia” and “Top Gun.” … Ohio-based metal dudes Chimaira will release a self-titled disc, their first batch of fresh material in more than two years, August 9. …

Southern California hardcore brutes Sinai Beach are down a guitarist. Mike Risinger has left the band, which will carry on as a foursome until a replacement is found. Those interested in trying out for the role can visit SinaiBeach.net for more information. They hit the road with Between the Buried and Me starting July 7 in Wilmington, North Carolina. … All Shall Perish will tour with Hate Eternal, Incantation, Krisiun and Into Eternity starting June 16 in West Springfield, Virginia, and ending July 24 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. … Throwdown recently shot a video for “Burn,” the first single from Vendetta, due June 28. Christopher Sims (Lamb of God, Norma Jean) directed it. … Mistress, a grindcore band from Birmingham, England, will release their debut, In Disgust We Trust, June 28. Tracks include “Happily Ever Disaster,” “F—ing F—” and “Alcahole.” …

Horse, who are holed up in a Seattle studio with producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis) to work on their forthcoming disc, have signed with the recently resuscitated Combat Records; look for a September release. Labelmates At All Cost are also working on new material with Rory Phillips (Recover, the Rise). … Scum of the Earth, fronted by ex-Rob Zombie guitarist Riggs, will kick off a nationwide tour June 14 in Springfield, Missouri, in support of their Eclipse Records debut, Blah … Blah … Blah … Love Songs for the New Millennium.Mausolus Arguelles Von Kiszka, guitarist for Polish death metallers Brutality, has died, according the band’s Web site. No cause of death was offered. As a result, the group has officially disbanded. … Swedish death-metal band Dissection are in Stockholm working on their third album with frontman Jon Nödtveidt‘s brother Emil and Skinny Kangur. The disc will be the band’s first since 1995′s Storm of the Light’s Bane. The group’s momentum was thwarted in 1998 when Nödtveidt was sentenced to eight years in prison for participating in the murder of an Algerian man. …

Demons & Wizards, the side project of Iced Earth frontman Jon Schaffer and Blind Guardian singer Hansi Kursch, will release their second disc, Touched by the Crimson King, June 27. Tracks include “Crimson King,” “Beneath These Waves” and “Terror Train.” … Norwegians Frantic Bleep recently revamped their lineup, leaving guitarist Patrick Scantlebury and bassist Eywin Sundstrøm as the only original members. The rest of the band is now composed of singer Kjetil Fosseid, guitarist Lars Gunnar Morastseter and drummer Trond Sand. Frantic Bleep are currently writing and demoing their second album. … Hardcore German metal band Barcode will release their fourth album, Showdown, July 26. Tracks include “Shots Out,” “Rise to Dignity” and “Fanatics.” … Malevolent Creation will hit the road with Origin, Divine Empire and Animosity starting July 2 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Dates run through August 6 in Atlanta, Georgia. …