Metal File: Black Dahlia Murder, Hellyeah & More News That Rules

Trevor Strnad hammering away at band's third LP — when he's not hunting airborne severed heads.

“I think this third one’s going to be a beast,” Trevor Strnad, frontman for Detroit death-metallers the Black Dahlia Murder, recently proclaimed of the band’s fresh material.

There was genuine excitement in Strnad’s voice as he spoke about the yet-untitled album they’ll record in March. Could it be that these tracks are just that good? Or could it be that he was actually excited about something else: making significant progress in the 1987 Nintendo game “Friday the 13th,” based on the masked-murderer horror flicks? He’s been playing the game for years but has yet to beat it. “Today I killed Jason’s mom’s flying severed head,” he boasted.

But there’s much more going on in Strnad’s life these days than tracking down a hockey-masked psycho and sauntering around a virtual Crystal Lake. The first item of business for the Black Dahlia Murder — who fired former drummer Zach Gibson early last year — is finding a replacement to help them finish the LP they’re nearly done writing.

“Writing and looking for a drummer simultaneously has been a pain in the ass,” he said. “We’re trying to keep things on schedule. We have the album written, largely. We just need to get the drummer in and work everything out with him.”

Strnad said Black Dahlia have auditioned several hopefuls, like Nick Pierce of technical-metal outfit the Faceless, and that he wants the band to make a decision before the end of the month. But finding a new drummer has been tough “because we have a bad reputation now. When we lost Zach, he slandered us pretty bad” on his MySpace page, according to Strnad. Gibson wrote that the band was “nothing without me,” “were nothing until I joined” and that some bandmembers didn’t care “about anything accept making money.”

“It’s still hanging over us, kind of,” Strnad said. “[The posts] went public, and it was all over the place. … There are still people who talk about that, and we’re trying to dispel those rumors.”

So far the Black Dahlia have written eight cuts for the follow-up to 2005′s Miasma and have been using computer programs to craft drum tracks for the songs. “It’s going to be an impressive record,” Strnad promised. “[Guitarist Brian Eschbach] is the songwriter usually, and we all help with arrangements, but that kid never ceases to amaze me. The longer we’re together, the more that we play, and the more experience we have on the road, it all makes you into a better player. So, whenever it comes time to start writing, he’s just full of surprises. He’s really been blowing me away with the new sh–. It’s definitely in the same vein as our older stuff. Nothing drastically changed. It’s just more tasteful, and some of this new stuff will be faster than the last record.”

When the band does enter the studio in March, it’ll do so without the benefit of a producer. Instead, the Black Dahlia will record with Eric Rachel, who mixed Miasma. “There’s going to be a lot more soloing than we’ve done previously,” he explained. “This record’s a bit more European-sounding, I think. More so than we already were, if you can imagine that. The solo stuff has a black metal-ish flavor to it. We messed around with that a little bit previously, but some of the songs have a major Dissection kind of feel to them.”

Lyrically, Strnad said the record — due in the fall — will be “more horror-oriented” than Miasma. “As far as gore and death and stuff like that goes, I mean, that’s all been done — into the ground,” he said. “I am just trying to do something like that, but with my own flavor to it. There are still ways to repulse people out there — I just need to figure it all out.”

The Black Dahlia Murder will preview several new tracks when they head out on a U.S. tour in April. Strnad can’t say who they’ll be touring with just yet, but he did confirm that his band will appear at this year’s annual New England Metal & Hardcore Festival, which has been set for April 27-28 in Worcester, Massachusetts. He said the Black Dahlia are also working on their first DVD release, which he hopes will include footage documenting the making of their next record.

The rest of the week’s metal news:

The debut album from Hellyeah — the new band featuring Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, Mudvayne‘s Chad Gray and Greg Tribbett, and Tom Maxwell and Jerry Montano of Nothingface — will hit stores April 10. In the meantime, check out some song samples over at the band’s MySpace page. … Stone Sour, Lacuna Coil and Shadows Fall will tour together under the Jägermeister Music Tour banner. The routing has yet to be revealed, but the tour is expected to launch March 23 and hit St. Paul, Minnesota; Milwaukee; Chicago; Detroit; New York; Boston; and Atlanta. … A compilation of post-’80s songs by Bay Area thrash-metal legends Testament will come out February 13. The Spitfire Collection will include newer tracks like “Careful What You Wish For” and “The Burning Times,” as well as live versions of classics such as “Practice What You Preach” and “Souls of Black.” … Kittie will launch a North American tour February 9 in Hartford, Connecticut, with dates running through March 24 in Warren, Michigan. Support will come from Walls of Jericho, 36 Crazyfists and Dead to Fall. Kittie’s new album, Funeral for Yesterday, comes out February 20 on their own X of Infamy label. …

Job for a Cowboy have added drummer Jon “The Charn” Rice to the fold. “For me, it’s a dream come true,” he said via press release. “It’s one of those things where you take a chance and send a demo over and then your life is changed. I’m really looking forward to living on the road.” The band recently wrapped the recording of its Metal Blade Records debut, which is slated for release this spring. … Metal-influenced prog band Porcupine Tree are wrapping up their new album, Fear of a Blank Planet, at Galaxy Studios in Belgium. The album is scheduled for release April 24. On March 6, a collaboration between Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson and Israeli songwriter Aviv Geffen, Blackfield II, will also be released. … Nora are expected to enter the recording studio this month to begin recording their next LP, Save Yourself. Frontman Carl Severson said there are 10 songs written and ready to be put to tape, and that the tracks “are definitely heavier, and we have our fastest songs on here and our most plodding and slow, sludgy material as well.” …

Obsessed Pantera fans A Perfect Murder will enter the studio January 29 to record their third album, War of Aggression. The disc will be produced by Pierre Rémillard (Cryptopsy, Gorguts) at Wild Studio in Quebec and is scheduled for a June 12 release. According to guitarist and songwriter Carl Bouchard, the disc will be “more structured and well-balanced. Having more experience as a performer has impacted my songwriting, but just growing up as a person has helped create a more mature sound in the band.” The Canadians’ new disc will mark the debuts of guitarist Kyrill Ducharme and bassist Francois-Michel Labrie. … Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe will assist A Life Once Lost with the recording of their forthcoming album, Iron Gag, which they’ll start putting to tape February 8. Blythe will brainstorm with singer Bob Meadows on the album’s vocal direction. … Cory White, guitarist for the Esoteric, has left the band for personal reasons. His replacement will be announced shortly. In addition, drummer Marshall Kilpatric has been ousted and replaced by the group’s old drummer, Adam Mitchell, who played on the Esoteric’s early material but left after the release of their 2002 EP, A Reason to Breathe. “This band is a living, breathing entity, and in the life of a band that makes music for music’s sake, change is an undeniable part of evolution,” read a group statement. …

Watain have posted some fresh darkness on their Web site, in the form of a track called “Sworn to the Dark.” The song will be the title cut to the Swedish black metallers’ forthcoming third LP, which lands in stores April 17. … From a Second Story Window, Nights Like These and See You Next Tuesday will team up in February for a spate of gigs. The trek commences February 24 in Memphis and runs through March 4 in Columbus, Ohio. … Hardcore metal/ screamo howlers Poison the Well will release their new album, Versions, in April. The disc is being produced in Umea, Sweden, by Pelle Henricsson and Eskil Lovstrom, who recorded 2003′s You Come Before You. “It’s going to be a really different sounding album in hardcore,” frontman Ryan Primack said of the effort, which will feature slide guitar, horns and banjo. … Finnish death-metallers Omnium Gatherum have put the finishing touches on their new one, Stuck Here on Snakes Way, which will be in stores April 3. The set will feature a dozen tracks, including “Dysnomia,” “Undertaker” and “In Sane World.” …

Finnish heavy-metal cellists Apocalyptica will release the double-DVD “The Life Burns Tour” February 6. The package will include covers of Metallica‘s “Fight Fire With Fire” and “Master of Puppets,” as well as Sepultura‘s “Refuse/Resist.” Many of the songs feature guest vocalists too: Soulfly‘s Max Cavalera and Bullet for My Valentine‘s Matt Tuck perform on “Repressed”; H.I.M.‘s Ville Valo and the RasmusLauri Ylönen contribute to “Bittersweet”; and “Seeman” features Nina Hagen. Apocalyptica are currently working on a new album for release later this year. … Angtoria singer Sarah Jezebel Deva and bassist Dave Pybus will perform on Cradle of Filth‘s upcoming U.S. tour. Dates run from January 23 in Sayreville, New Jersey, through March 4 in New York. Angtoria’s critically acclaimed symphonic-metal album God Has a Plan for Us All came out in October. … Frontman Ian Campbell has left Neuraxis and has been replaced in short order by Atheretic‘s Alex Leblanc.