Metal File: Daath, Behemoth, Yakuza & More News That Rules

Frontman issues warning for those planning to attend Ozzfest.

Daath guitarist Eyal Levi is issuing a stern warning to those planning to attend this year’s free Ozzfest, which his six-piece death-metal outfit will be playing with the likes of Ozzy, Hatebreed, Lordi and Lamb of God: “No one better f— with us.”

You see, Levi supports the old maxim that the best defense is a strong offense, and after the kind of tour the band shared this winter with Goatwhore, the Acacia Strain and Job for a Cowboy — the theme of which, he said, was “staying alive” — Daath are in dire need of a strong offense. Not that they’re proponents of rampant acts of violence — it’s more about protection, Levi explained.

“I don’t like getting into fights — it’s not what I’m into,” he said. “But that last tour was so crazy, as far as violence goes, I just figure we’ve got to be ready. … After this last tour … I mean, there were fights every single night. One night, there were nine fights — nine f—ing bloody fights.”

During one gig, Levi said, an audience member tried to attack frontman Sean Farber after he drenched the crowd with water.

“I guess some dude didn’t like it, and he told us to stop — in the middle of a song, mind you,” the guitarist recalled. “First of all, we’re not going to stop. Secondly, how do you expect a band to hear that? So he charged the stage and spit in Sean’s face. Sean saw him rushing towards the stage and hit him in the face with his microphone. After the show, the dude jumped our merch guy because he thought it was Sean. So let’s just say I’m going to be ready next time.”

Daath — which translates to “knowledge” in Hebrew — released their Roadrunner Records debut, The Hinderers, March 20. The Atlanta act’s material is heavily influenced by Da’at and Kabbalah, although the band does not identify a direct religious affiliation in its music. Daath explore esoteric themes associated with the Qabalistic Tree of Life and Death — a mystical-belief system that describes imbalances in areas of the brain — and use it as a framework for psychological exploration, Levi said.

“We’ve been into this kind of stuff as long as we’ve been working together, which is since I was 12 years old,” he explained. “We always kind of had a fascination with the occult, and when we were putting this project together, we were researching names and themes and one that really stuck out to us was the Tree of Life and Death life concept. We feel it maps out the human mind very precisely, and we use it as a roadmap to explore the negative sides of the human mind.”

The Hinderers was produced by Daath along with Testament guitarist James Murphy, who also makes a guest appearance on the LP. The album marks the first time most metalheads will have heard them, which doesn’t worry Levi.

“I’m not losing sleep over it,” he said. “I lost enough sleep while we were making it. It is a bit of a departure for Roadrunner these days, and I know that we have a slightly different sound, so I’m just curious to see what happens. I am ready for whatever. We always envision the worst-case scenario, as well as the best-case scenario, so we’re ready for anything. I think we have some pretty catchy music, and I think that people will dig it. We’re a grower kind of band — people will need to listen to us 50 times before they get what’s going on, since there are so many layers to our music.”

But Levi also says the time couldn’t be better for an album like The Hinderers to hit the metal scene. “I think we’re the first really extreme band to be on [Roadrunner's] U.S. roster in 10 years — with the exception of two bands that were already established: Cradle of Filth and Opeth,” he said. “A band like us, a startup band, it’s a new thing for the label. Maybe it’s an experiment. Maybe they want to see if this style of music can do what it did in the early ’90s. It kind of already is, when you see bands like Lamb of God on ['Late Night With Conan O'Brien'], and Slayer’s out there winning a Grammy. The time for this style of music has come back around. We’re just going to have to wait and see what happens.”

The rest of the week’s metal news:

Behemoth have been added to the bill for this summer’s Ozzfest, which will also feature Nile, In This Moment, the Showdown and others. Ozzfest kicks off July 12 in Seattle, with dates scheduled through August 30 in West Palm Beach, Florida. … Bury Your Dead have enlisted former I Killed the Prom Queen frontman Michael Crafter as their new singer; Crafter replaces Mat Bruso, who left the band late last year. He’ll be making his live debut with the band on the upcoming Don’t Call It a Comeback Tour — with support acts Suicide Silence, Stick to Your Guns and Since the Flood — which launches April 20 in Rochester, New York. … Through the Eyes of the Dead have recruited singer Nate Johnson to replace former frontman Anthony Gunnels. Johnson will soon enter Mana Recording Studio in St. Petersburg, Florida, with producer Erik Rutan to track vocals for the band’s forthcoming LP, Malice, which should be in stores late this summer. …

A May 22 release date has been set for Strapping Young Lad frontman Devin Townsend‘s latest solo effort, Ziltoid the Omniscient. The album, recorded entirely by Townsend, follows the story of Ziltoid, a four-dimensional, coffee-loving alien who comes to Earth to prove he’s the universe’s finest guitar player — which he hopes will land him lots of honeys. … Hell Within will release their second album, Shadows of Vanity, May 15. The Massachusetts band recorded with producer John Ellis (Godsmack, American Hi-Fi) and mixed with Mark Lewis of Audio Hammer Studios. The disc will mark the debut for new drummer Derek Jay, who replaced Brian “Bubba” Joyce late last year. Hell Within were formerly called Twytch and released an EP and album under that name before switching their moniker in time for 2005′s Asylum of the Human Predator.

Lots of things delay black-metal albums from getting in the hands of fans. Sometimes it’s too much partying, other times it’s federal shipping laws. But once in a while, product just gets lost in the mail. That’s what happened to Full Moon Productions band Velvet Cacoon, whose double-CD Dextronaut was misplaced by the U.S. Postal Service. The label sent out 200 copies of the record, which disappeared for over a month before someone in Alabama contacted the company after purchasing all of the discs in a USPS lost-goods auction. “We were able to recover them after a lot of stress and bitterness,” said a statement from Full Moon. …

West Virginia modern-thrash band Byzantine are in the studio working on their third album, Oblivion Beckons, which is tentatively scheduled for release late this summer. The disc will be mixed by Drew Mazurek at High View Studios and mastered by Alan Douches at West Side Music. “The record is coming along really well,” bassist Skip Cromer said in a statement. “The sound is really good. We tried some redneck experiments to get some slamming tones and they ended up working. The majority of the songs definitely fall into the thrash vein of things.” Byzantine will release their “Salvation” DVD on April 17. The disc, which is nearly four hours long, features a six-song live set, including the otherwise-unavailable “Cradle Song,” as well as behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, the video for “Jeremiad,” tutorials and bootleg concert footage. …

Los Angeles extreme-metal band Abysmal Dawn have officially hired new bassist Mike Cosio (ex-Excretion, Grave Desecration) following a monthlong trial period and are now hard at work on their next album. “Our only scheduled performance at the moment is the recently added Emperor reunion show on June 3 at the Key Club in [West] Hollywood [California],” the band wrote on its Web site. “We feel very privileged to be supporting such a legendary entity and hope you will come out and show your support for some black/death-metal art.” Abysmal Dawn’s debut, From Ashes, came out in 2006. … All That Remains. are shuffling through footage for their first DVD, which should be out later this year. “It looks amazing. I can’t wait until we get this thing together for you guys,” singer Phil Labonte said in a post on the band’s Web site. “I think we’ll see some more stuff once we get back from Europe, so I’ll give you another update then.” All That Remains return to the U.S. May 2 for six dates with Bullet for My Valentine. …

Bay Area thrash band Dekapitator have signed to Relapse and are currently working on their second full-length, The Storm Before the Calm, which is due this summer. Tracks include “Earthscorcher,” “Screams From the Holocaust,” “Toxic Sanctuary” and “Run With the Pack”; the latter two can be previewed at MySpace.com/Dekapitator. “We’re highly psyched about unleashing The Storm Before the Calm through Relapse,” singer/guitarist Matt Hellfiend said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to thrashing as much as we can this year, so bring your denim and your beer and let’s f—in’ rage.” Dekapitator’s debut, We Will Destroy … You Will Obey, came out in 1999 and was produced by ex-Death and Obituary guitarist James Murphy. …

Chicago hardcore-metal band Yakuza have entered the studio to record their third album, Transmutations, which is tentatively scheduled for release this fall. “We had jazz percussionists Michael Zerang and Hamid Drake come in for a few songs,” frontman Bruce Lamont said. “It was a serious honor. I can’t even tell you how happy we are with the results.” The album is being produced by Sanford Parker, who has worked with Pelican, Minsk and Rwake. “He brought the sonic continuity we have been striving for since day one,” Lamont said. … In May, God Forbid will take part in the Monsters of Mayhem 2 tour along with Hatebreed, Evergreen Terrace, the Acacia Strain and After the Burial. The tour will be God Forbid’s last to support their latest album, IV: Constitution of Treason. Dates run from May 18 in Rochester, New York, through May 26 in Orlando, Florida.