Metal File: Voivod, Megadeth, Lamb Of God & More In This Week’s Hard News

Band filled in the holes on songs left by deceased partner Denis 'Piggy' D'Amour.

Back in August, just days before Denis “Piggy” D’Amour succumbed to advanced colon cancer, Voivod drummer Michael “Away” Langevin said he awoke one morning to a ringing phone. It was D’Amour, and he wanted Langevin to stop into the Montreal hospital where he was being treated. D’Amour said he wanted the drummer to come as soon as he possibly could.

“He told me, ‘You have to come [to the hospital] right now. I have something to tell you,’ ” Away recalled. “I went, and he told me that the doctor informed him he had days to live. He said he really wanted to fulfill his contract with the End Records,” Voivod’s label home, “and then he instructed me to grab his laptop and started telling me where to find these files.”

The files contained what Away described as “four albums’ worth” of lead, rhythm and solo guitar tracks D’Amour had recorded prior to checking himself into the hospital the previous spring. While Voivod — rounded out by former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted and singer Denis “Snake” Belanger — had spent more than two years working on fresh material together, none of it was recorded with state-of-the-art equipment in a professional studio. The music on D’Amour’s laptop was.

A couple of hours after Away’s bedside visit to D’Amour, “Piggy’s mind started to wander, and I was asking him questions about the [computer files] and he had no idea what I was talking about. It’s almost like he woke up and felt his brain was going and realized he needed to tell me [about the tracks] as soon as possible. He slipped into a coma a day or two later, so this album came very close to not existing.”

“Close” is an understatement. But the good news is the album — which the band worked on with producer Glen Robinson (Gwar, Annihilator) by writing and recording around Piggy’s guitar parts — is done. Away says he feels the yet-untitled effort’s a fitting homage to his fallen bandmate. “It’s quite a miracle that this music will live on,” he said.

The disc, to be released this spring, will feature 10 tracks, with working titles like “Red My Mind,” “The Getaway,” “Polaroids,” “After All” and “No Angel.” Voivod plan to return to the studio in the fall to record another 13 tracks for an album Away said will surface in 2007.

“I’m proud of this album in the sense that it would have been a disaster that Piggy’s music would go unheard,” the drummer said. “Now it will be released, which is a miracle. I am proud that we were able to gather our spirits enough to actually finish off his work.”

Voivod have no immediate touring plans, Away said. That’s because it’s been too hard for the band to discuss the topic. “We decided to concentrate on finishing this album and think about the live aspect of it later,” he said. “Right now it’s difficult for us to think about touring without Piggy being onstage with us. I think we’ll have to eventually sit down and really discuss it, but it was hard enough to go into the studio and finish the album without him.

“Piggy was a founding member and has been there with us all the way through. I have been jamming with him since ’79, so it’s really hard to picture a tour without him. … We’d have to find a replacement that Piggy would be proud of.”

The rest of the week’s metal news:

Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine has reached out to DeviantArt.com to help redesign the band’s longtime logo/mascot, Vic Rattlehead. In a contest that runs until February 14, applicants are asked to upload their design to DeviantArt.com and Mustaine will choose the winning design. “I created the first Vic Rattlehead, and now it’s your turn. Show me your stuff, deviants,” Mustaine said. Prizes include three Dave Mustaine Signature Series electric guitars from ESP: the Ltd Axxion, Ltd DV8-R and Ltd DV200. … Vernon Reid & Masque will release their second album, Other True Self, April 18. Tracks include “Prof Bebey,” “Flatbush and Church Revisited,” “White Face” and covers of Radiohead‘s “National Anthem” and Depeche Mode‘s “Enjoy the Silence.” In addition to his work with Masque, the Living Colour guitarist recently contributed music for the Laurence Malkin film “Five Fingers,” the upcoming PBS documentary “Almost Home” and the new Derek-Wan-directed horror movie “Shadow: Dead Riot.” … Lamb of God‘s debut album, New American Gospel, has been remastered and will be re-released on April 4 with new packaging, four bonus tracks and liner notes penned by members of the band. The reissue will also include a video for “Black Label.” … Carnal Forge continue to work on the follow-up to 2004′s Aren’t You Dead Yet?, which should hit stores before the end of the year. The album will feature “Burning Eden,” “Subhuman,” “Forever Guilt” and “The Dead.” … Isis have booked a handful of dates, the first being on March 29 in Redding, California, with These Arms Are Snakes and Zombi. The bill for the last of the confirmed dates — May 2 in Baltimore — will feature Dälek, Torche and Zombi. …

Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton will release two albums on March 7. The first will be a reissue of his eclectic 1997 solo album Baptizm of Fire, with two previously unreleased bonus tracks, “Himalaya” and “New Breed.” The record features bass playing by the late John Entwistle of the Who, Metallica‘s Robert Trujillo, ex-Talas frontman Billy Sheehan and session player C.J. DeVillar; drumming by Godsmack‘s Shannon Larkin, Rainbow/ Black Sabbath‘s Cozy Powell and session player Brooks Wackerman; and keyboards by ex-Ozzy Osbourne accomplice Don Airey. The second disc, Edge of the World, is a batch of previously unreleased songs by Tipton, Entwistle and Powell that were recorded during the same session. Tracks include “Unknown Soldier,” “Friendly Fire” and “Resolution.”… Former Kittie guitarist Lisa Marx has joined Day of Contempt, who’re on tour with Avenged Sevenfold and CKY. The band’s latest EP, The Will to Live, was released in April. … Children of Bodom mainman Alexi Laiho broke his toe during a recent gig in Barcelona, Spain, after “slamming it into a monitor wedge,” the singer wrote on the band’s Web site. “So if and when you see me moving around like a retard … that’s why.” The injury won’t affect the band’s upcoming U.S. tour with Chimaira and God Forbid. … Pro-Pain have been writing material for their yet-untitled forthcoming album, which should surface later this year. The recording of the effort should get underway in five months or so. …

A June 6 release date has been set for Sikth‘s forthcoming disc, Death of a Dead Day. … Dutch progressive-goth-metal band the Gathering have confirmed seven North American shows for March, for which they will be supported by Giant Squid and Unexpect. The first date will be March 17 in Austin, Texas, as part of the South by Southwest music conference. The tour wraps up March 24 in Montreal. The Gathering are currently finishing their ninth album, Home, with producer Attie Bauw, who produced their 1999 outing, How to Measure a Planet? Most of the recording was done in an old church in Maurik, Holland, and the album is due this spring. … Sixteen bands have been lined up for February 15′s Edgefest 2006 at the 180 Skatepark in Huber Heights, Ohio. Suffocate Faster, xTyrantx, In This Defiance, Sealed With a Kiss and Son of Day are just some of the acts scheduled. … Comeback Kid, First Blood, Ignite, the Sinking Ships and This Is Hell will be teaming up for a U.S. tour that kicks off in Seattle on February 26. Dates run through March 28 in Syracuse, New York. … Florida thrashers A–holeparade have entered Goldentone Studios in Gainesville to begin work on Say Hello, the band’s forthcoming disc. The album will feature 20 cuts, including a rendition of Septic Death‘s “Thaw (Frozen World).” Look for it in April. … The seventh-annual Facedown Fest will go down on March 31 and April 1 in Pomona, California. The lineup will include Nodes of Ranvier, Seventh Star, Inked in Blood, No Innocent Victim, Bloodlined Calligraphy and xLooking Forwardx. …

Street Drum Corps, the percussive project formed by members of S.T.U.N., the Start and Circus Minor and embraced by the Used‘s Bert McCracken, will release their self-titled debut February 21. The disc was produced by Limp Bizkit‘s DJ Lethal and includes “Wrecks,” “Rabbit,” “Body Sounds 101″ and “Bang!” A bonus DVD featuring 48 minutes of live and backstage footage will accompany the release. … Veteran hardcore-metal band Starkweather will release their new album Croatoan May 2. The disc was produced by Pierre Remillard (Cryptopsy) and features art work by Paul Romano (Mastodon, Godflesh). Croatoan is the band’s first new recording in more than five years. … Hell Within will tour with War of Ages starting February 3 in Portland, Oregon. Dates run through February 26 in Williamsburg, Virginia. The band’s debut, Asylum of the Human Predator, came out last April.