Metal File: Bloodsimple, Starkweather, Testament & More News That Rules

Frontman says band 'wanted to bring out some different colors that are going to scare some fans away' on second LP.

It was important for former Vision of Disorder frontman Tim Williams to establish his latest project, New York hard-rockers Bloodsimple, as a band with its own identity, and not just VOD: The Sequel. And thanks to Bloodsimple’s 2005 debut LP, A Cruel World, they accomplished just that, Williams believes. These days, though, the singer is more concerned about longevity.

“In any standard career, the first record puts you on the map,” he explained. The second one — which Bloodsimple have been working on since August and have tentatively titled Red Harvest — “is when the haters come out. That’s the true moment of a band’s career and determines whether a band makes it to that third record.

“This is the hump right here,” he continued. “I do think a lot of people will see our sound has truly evolved into our own brand of heavy music with this record. That’s what we set out to do. We really have come into our own on this record — that I can say with confidence. Whether or not it’s going to blow us up, or take us to that next level, remains to be seen. But … the band as a whole has really grown into a tight unit. It’s a little bit different than what I think people are going to expect, which is always good.”

Red Harvest, which is being mixed at the moment and was produced by Machine (Lamb of God, White Zombie), should surface before the summer, Williams said. The LP will contain around 11 tracks, including “Dead Man Walking,” “Dark Helmet,” the title cut and “El Myr” — the name of an Atlanta burrito bar the band loves to visit while on the road.

“With the first record, we really just had to get it out,” he explained. “We put down some really amazing songs, too. But this record, we really purposely were like, ‘Let’s try not to do the run-of-the-mill Bloodsimple number two — let’s focus on expanding our horizons.’ We wanted to make a more organic record, rather than just a set, themed, heavy record. We wanted to bring out some different colors that are going to scare some fans away but bring in a whole new element of people. There are a handful of songs that are for the typical Bloodsimple listener, but there’s a good five songs that are out there on the edge. They’re still heavy, but they’re different. … We’re really going to make our mark with this one.”

Williams said the album title was inspired by Dashiell Hammett’s 1929 novel of the same name. In that book, “blood-simple” is when, in a situation where a person is surrounded by murder, murder becomes a viable solution to practically any problem. Hence, life is devalued, and killing begets even more killing.

“I took the definition from the book and applied it to some of the lyrics, and it really started taking shape,” Williams said. “We did a lot of different things in the studio this time around, and we wanted to try and tell more stories. We wanted to develop characters that would really pull the listener in and make them pay attention and wonder, when the next song comes, what it’s going to be about. It’s not a concept record at all, but we did dig into the lyrics to try and get people to want to know what happens next.

“I think anyone who listens to this record’s going to go, ‘Man, this is some sick, original sh–,’ ” he continued. “It’s this new heavy — for me as a singer, for Bloodsimple as a band. It’s still heavy as hell. It just sounds different.”

Williams said Bloodsimple will release their first DVD, “Some Kind of Morons” — an obvious knock on the 2004 Metallica documentary, “Some Kind of Monster” — in March. The video will provide fans with a behind-the-scenes look at the making of A Cruel World and feature tons of live footage. The singer also said the DVD will let “people see we’re just normal people — guys who like to drink a lot of beer and play heavy music.”

And while the band has yet to firm up any solid touring plans around the release of Red Harvest, he’s keeping his fingers crossed for an Ozzfest invitation. “Bloodsimple kind of has the VOD disease,” Williams said. “We tour really well up until the summer, and then for some reason we don’t ever land any of the big festival runs. The last two summers, we kind of slipped under the radar. We’re hoping to get some love this time around, and I’m sure we will.”

As for VOD, Williams said there’s a DVD on the way that chronicles the group’s string of 2006 reunion shows, which were shot by director Bill Yukich (Queens of the Stone Age, Marilyn Manson). Williams said the gigs “brought us down Memory Lane,” and that the DVD will include a live CD as well.

“We just need to find a home for it, and I’d like to release it this spring,” he said. “And then, if we have time, we’re planning to do a week’s worth of shows, just to promote the thing.”

The rest of the week’s metal news:

Bay Area bashers Testament have been out of the loop for a minute, but the band is working to change that. Guitarist and main songwriter Eric Peterson has recently been working in a Northern California practice space with ex-Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth drummer Nick Barker on songs for the band’s first album of original material since 1999′s The Gathering. “It’s feeling pretty good so far,” Peterson told Metal File. “Nick’s playing has sparked some fire in me like [Slayer drummer Dave] Lombardo did back in ’99 when he played for us on The Gathering.” Not only are Testament back, they’re back with the crux of their powerhouse ’80s lineup: Peterson, guitarist Alex Skolnick, bassist Greg Christian and singer Chuck Billy. Next week they’ll leave for a tour of Australia but plan to resume work on the new album when they return. …

Soilwork have been writing material for their next album and plan to begin tracking the LP in March. No additional information has been offered about the follow-up to 2005′s Stabbing the Drama.Cephalic Carnage are also in the studio, working on their next, yet-untitled full-length. Guitarist Zac Joe said the material “gives me that excited naughty little feeling in the pit of my stomach that can only be compared to the first time you make out with your best friend’s girl.” … Since the Flood‘s sophomore album, No Compromise, hit stores January 23. Frontman Chuck Bouley told Metal File that the band “didn’t try to do anything differently” in the studio but feels the LP shows the group’s “natural progression.” He added that he hopes “this is the album that helps us be seen by a larger fanbase, because we’ve done so many of the smaller underground tours, and now we’re hoping that, if we sell enough [copies] of this album, we’ll be able to create some mass appeal and work our way onto bigger stages.” …

Original Tool bassist Paul D’Amour is scoring the sinister soundtrack to the upcoming film “On the Doll.” The dark drama — currently in post-production — was helmed by Thomas Mignone, who is best known for directing videos for the likes of System of a Down, Sepultura, Mudvayne and Slipknot. … Philadelphian metallers Starkweather have begun writing material for their next studio offering, though there’s no word yet on when it might surface. So far the band has composed about eight songs, including “Junkyard Jazz,” “The Nightmare Factory” and “Drug Holiday.” … King Diamond is writing lyrics for his band’s still-untitled 12th LP, the mixing of which will begin in early March. The frontman hopes to have the entire thing in the bag by April, for a tentative late-summer release. …

Candlelight Records will release Carnal Forge‘s sixth album, tentatively titled Testify for My Victims, in May, according to the band’s Web site. Look for the disc to feature “Numb” and “Burning Eden.” … Joey Kamka, drummer for Phoenix death-metal band Autumn’s End, was severely injured when his motorcycle was hit by a drunk driver Sunday morning. Kamka flew into — and then over — the windshield of the truck, fracturing his skull and severing his right ear and brain stem in the process, according to a statement from the band’s management. Three days after intensive surgery, Kamka was still in the hospital in grave condition. “He’s fightin’ hard right now and it’s stacked against him,” bassist El wrote on the band’s MySpace page. “But if you know Joey like I do, you know he’s one of the toughest SOBs around, and one of the most stubborn. He won’t go down without a fight.” …

DevilDriver‘s forthcoming album The Last Kind Words will drop June 5, according to a spokesperson for Roadrunner Records. … Neurosis have set Given to the Rising as the title of their next LP, which should surface in May. … Total F—ing Destruction, the Philadelphia grind band featuring ex-Brutal Truth drummer Richard Hoak, will release Zen and the Art of Total F—ing Destruction this spring on Translation Loss Records. The release will consist of three pieces: The first is a shower of noise recorded at Super 8 Studios in Harleysville, Pennsylvania, and mixed by Dan O’Hare; the second features a series of unsettling acoustic songs recorded by the bandmembers in their house; and the third is Live From Hazel’s, an enhanced CD that contains a concert performance. …

Extreme noisemakers Pig Destroyer are in Rockville, Maryland’s Omega Studios recording their new album Phantom Limb. The disc, the follow-up to 2004′s Terrifyer, will be the band’s first as a quartet, thanks to the recent addition of guitarist Blake Harrison. Tentative track titles include “Heathen Temple,” “The Machete Twins” and “Rotten Yellow.” “The songs feel great and we’ve been having a load of fun playing them for the last five months,” singer J.R. Hayes said. “It’s the 14 most deranged metal songs we could make up, so get ready to sink your f—ing teeth in.” … German melodic-metal band Masterplan will release their third album, MKII, March 20. The follow-up to 2005′s Aeronautics will feature ex-Riot singer Mike DiMeo, who joined last year after Jorn Lande left due to “musical differences.” The new album will also be the debut for drummer Mike Terrana (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, Rage.) MKII was produced by guitarist Roland Grapow, formerly of Helloween. …

Experimental San Francisco outfit Oxbow are in the studio finishing up their seventh album, The Narcotic Story, which is tentatively scheduled for June release. The band’s first studio offering since 2002′s An Evil Heat was engineered by Joe Chiccarelli, who has previously worked with such headbang-free acts as Tori Amos and Counting Crows. “It’s quiet and creepy and desperate and successfully broken, like me when I wrote it,” singer Eugene Robinson said of the new LP. Guitarist Niko Wenner added: “If I live through the making of this, I can die with a smile on my face.” … Ambient instrumental-metal band Pelican will release their new album, City of Echoes, May 22. The album was recorded in Chicago at Steve Albini‘s Electrical Audio studios last month with Andrew Schneider (Daughters, Cave In). Tracks include “Bliss in Concrete,” “Lost in the Headlights” and “Dead Between the Walls.” The disc will include a live DVD shot in London as well.