Rammstein Guitarist Emigrates To NYC For New Project; Plus Killswitch Engage, XXX Maniak & More News That Rules, In Metal File

But little did Richard Z. Kruspe know that when he moved to America, he'd be living in a supposedly haunted house ...

It was hard enough for Rammstein guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe to leave his friends and daughter in Berlin and relocate to New York to write an album for his side project, Emigrate. The last thing he needed was for the house he moved into to be haunted.

The residence, a former firehouse in SoHo, apparently revealed its spiritual energies to Kruspe soon after he set up his home studio there. He says the burglar alarm went off repeatedly without being triggered, tiny holes appeared in his window without explanation, and his girlfriend had to move out after just two weeks because she felt so unsettled by the house’s vibe.

“I went online to research the history of the house, and I found a picture of it from 1874,” Kruspe said a week before heading back to Germany to continue work on the next Rammstein album, which doesn’t have a name yet. “I printed it up, and when I looked closely at it, I got goose bumps all over my body. The picture is of three guys standing outside the building, and one of them looks exactly like me.”

While some of Kruspe’s friends have found being in the house too unnerving, the former resident of East Germany has accepted the spirit and fed off its energy. “The house has a strange feeling to it, but that’s why I love it,” he said. “I made peace with the energy long ago, and now I’m basically talking to it, saying, ‘Hello,’ ‘Good night’ and ‘What’s going on?’ But obviously, I’m doing that in my head — if I started talking out loud, I think I would have to check into a hospital.”

Maybe some of the paranormal activity inspired Kruspe to write Emigrate’s self-titled debut, which comes out January 28, but the songs on the disc are neither haunting nor ethereal. They’re filled with feelings of loneliness, despair and rage that stemmed more from the isolation he felt in America.

“I moved here in 2001 because I needed a change in my life,” he explained. “I had been living in Berlin for 18 years, and I was bored and wanted a new challenge. I felt I had to create something new, and one of the things you have to do as an artist is go the unsafe way, because this brings you into the suffering world, and if you’re suffering, you can write good music. When I came to New York, I dealt with a lot of rejection and depression in the process of entering the new world and saying goodbye to the old one, and that was definitely inspirational.”

Equally inspiring was Kruspe’s desire to branch out from the sonic niche he had created with Rammstein. Before he moved to America, he was experiencing creative and personal friction with his bandmates. In the past, he had written nearly all the group’s songs, and was extremely controlling about how the music was played and the role everyone served in the group. After years of putting up with his totalitarian perfectionism, his bandmates started to rebel.

“It got to the point where people couldn’t be around me,” Kruspe said. “If you want to eat a chocolate cake, one piece is nice, but if you eat the whole cake, you’ll f—ing puke. And it was the same with me. It was too much to deal with, so I distanced myself from the whole situation and tried to find something else.”

Kruspe found the outlet in Emigrate, a project that allowed him to explore new artistic avenues on his own and take on the role of lead singer as well as guitarist. While songs like “Emigrate,” “Wake Up” and “My World” have elements in common with Rammstein — chugging metal guitars, ominous keyboards, militaristic percussion — other tracks, such as “In My Tears” and “Temptation,” are softer, moodier and more subtle, interlaced with acoustic-guitar arpeggios, gloomy pop vocals and baleful samples of strings.

“At the time I did these songs, I felt like something was missing in Rammstein,” Kruspe said. “To work for that band is almost like working for a soundtrack. You have to work with no vocals because those are the last things that will appear on the song. For Emigrate, I started to work more as a traditional songwriter. Also, I was singing and writing lyrics in English, which allowed me to experiment with all these things I had never explored before. Basically, that allowed me to balance myself out again so I could go back to Rammstein and be the happy guitar player.”

Sometimes it’s hard for musicians to return to their main bands after they get such a taste of freedom. But having complete creative control of Emigrate had the opposite effect on Kruspe. Rammstein are now working democratically, and Kruspe says he’s coexisting with his bandmates more amicably than ever. So far, the group has written 30 basic tracks at a rental house near the Baltic Sea, and it plans to enter the studio in March and release the follow-up to 2005′s Rosenrot sometime in 2008.

“It’s looking like it will be the most heaviest record we ever did,” Kruspe said. “The songs are faster, and it feels like we’re really going back to our roots and rediscovering what we like and what Rammstein is all about. We’re thinking of going to Los Angeles … to record an album in America [for the first time]. And we’re in a position right now where we don’t have a contract with any record company, and that gives us peace of mind because there’s no pressure from the outside.”

For Kruspe, the only drawback about being back with Rammstein is he’ll be unable to tour for Emigrate. After Rammstein finish their record, the band will embark on its first world tour in two years, which leaves no time for him to support his solo disc. But that doesn’t mean he won’t find time to write new Emigrate songs.

“Every time I’m in New York, I’m working for Emigrate,” Kruspe said. “I’m trying to really separate the work I do by the city I’m in. It’s almost like I’m living totally different lives. I never really believed in monogamy anyway, so I always like to live in a duality like that. And when the time is right, I’ll take Emigrate on tour, also.”

The rest of the week’s metal news:

The team behind Metal File has come up with its Top 10 Metal Records of the Year lists, if you care. Here’s writer Jon Wiederhorn’s list: 1. BehemothThe Apostasy; 2. Machine HeadThe Blackening; 3. DownDown III: Over the Under; 4. The Dillinger Escape PlanIre Works; 5. Every Time I DieThe Big Dirty; 6. Job for a CowboyGenesis; 7. NileIthyphallic; 8. MinistryThe Last Sucker; 9. High on FireDeath Is This Communion; and 10. SighHangman’s Hymn. Next is writer Chris Harris’ list: 1. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works; 2. The Number Twelve Looks Like YouMongrel; 3. WatainSworn to the Dark; 4. Deathspell OmegaFas – Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum; 5. ChimairaResurrection; 6. The Red ChordPrey for Eyes; 7. OpethThe Roundhouse Tapes; 8. Behemoth – The Apostasy; 9. XasthurDefective Epitaph; 10. A Life Once LostIron Gag. Lastly, Kurt Orzeck, who edits Metal File each week, submitted his own picks: 1. 3 Inches of BloodFire Up the Blades; 2. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works; 3. BaronessThe Red Album; 4. Big BusinessHere Come the Waterworks; 5. Down – Down III: Over the Under; 6. Opeth – The Roundhouse Tapes; 7. DethklokThe Dethalbum; 8. YakuzaTransmutations; 9. Horse the BandA Natural Death; and 10. Arch EnemyRise of the Tyrant.

Killswitch Engage, Every Time I Die, the Dillinger Escape Plan and Parkway Drive will hit the road next year for a spate of U.S. dates. The tour kicks off January 9 and runs through February 5, although the cities the band will perform on those two specific days have yet to be determined. A full list of the dates can be found on Killswitch’s MySpace page.36 Crazyfists have titled their forthcoming Ferret Music debut The Tide and It’s Takers. Look for the record to drop March 4. … Grindcore monsters Cephalic Carnage were robbed during a recent stop in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where they had to have their van worked on. “A backpack containing the recent earnings from the tour (close to $4,000), a laptop computer with over $2,000 in music-software programs loaded, an iPod and various personal items were among the items stolen,” the band said in a statement. “We immediately called the police and suspected that an employee grabbed the backpack in the process of getting the work done. This could not have come at a worst time, as we were looking to use earnings from this tour to help cover the upcoming holiday expenses for our kids and families. As you might expect, we are extremely upset, as this tour was doing very well for us (both financially and morale-wise).” The band will continue with its tour and hopes to recover the pilfered items. On a related note, the Locust were also recently victimized, after a show in St. Louis over the weekend. The band’s van was broken into, and “a large amount of personal possessions, including three computers, phone chargers, money and anything else you might think of” were pinched, according to a statement. …

Bay Area metal vets Death Angel plan to release their upcoming LP, Killing Season, February 26. … According to Nebula, the stoner rockers will be hitting the studio in the next few weeks to begin recording demos for the follow-up to 2006′s Apollo. We’ll keep you posted as more news becomes available. … Firewind‘s Gus G. has offered an update on that band’s forthcoming album. “Most of the recordings for the new album are done by now,” he wrote in a post on the band’s Web site. “We’ve been locked at Sweden’s Studio Fredman for about a month now, and I’m super-excited with the way things are shaping up. Killer sounds on the drums, guitars and bass. We’ve recorded 12 original songs and a few covers, which will be revealed in time.” No word yet on when the LP will hit stores. … Gorgoroth-gate continues this week, as the bandmembers’ feud rages on. Guitarist Infernus, now embroiled in a legal dispute with the rest of the group over the rights to the its name, has launched the “official” Web site and MySpace page for his version of Gorgoroth. According to Infernus, the band currently “consists of Infernus as the sole permanent member, which means that no live appearances are planned for the immediate future.” Infernus said he’s been working on material for Gorgoroth’s next full-length, called Quantos Possund Ad Satanitatem Trahunt.

Swedish doom-metallers Eerie will release an LP in fall 2008 called As the World Comes to an End. The band claims in a statement that the set will feature “six to seven songs [that] will embrace your haunted and darkened lives.” … Doom-metal outfit the Gates of Slumber have announced that they, too, will have an active 2008. Next year the band will issue its next LP, Conqueror, which will boast “Black River,” “Eyes of the Liar” and “Witch Throne.” Look for it to hit store shelves in May. … Swedish black-metallers Vanmakt have lost guitarist Satygh. The band’s frontman, Gorgoth, said the rest of Vanmakt couldn’t trust Satygh, and hence, they’re now looking for a new guitarist. In the meantime, they’ve enlisted a substitute so that they can avoid missing any upcoming live gigs. …

Eternal Ruin need a new singer following the departure of Chris Yuastella. “It seems the band and Chris have reached a plateau of complacency over the past few years,” read the band’s statement on the matter. “We firmly believe now is the best time to make this move based solely on the band’s future. We’ve already begun working on the new stuff and [are] extremely pleased thus far. The new stuff will be a little more defined than previous efforts, plus will definitely have the brutality the band is known for.” … Matt Heafy is threatening to release another Trivium record. According to a post on the band’s MySpage page, the singer/guitarist said, “it’s [going to] be a very long while” before the band plays any more live gigs, as “[we've got to] take the time to go and make the greatest Trivium album ever (we have demoed [a lot of] tracks and so far … it’s already, in demo form, shaping up to be the best material we have ever created).” We’ll take your word for it. … Swedish melodic black-metal maelstrom Siebenbürgen have re-formed and crafting new material for an album that could drop sometime next year. According to a statement issued by frontman Marcus Ehlin, the band features several new members, but the “music is in the same vein as before: dark and atmospheric metal.” … XXX Maniak and Throatplunger have teamed up for a split 7-inch release that should be available in the next two weeks. The effort will boast “Golden Showers, Black Hearts,” “Attending the Graduation of Someone I F—ed 10 Years Ago” and “Railing Lines at Ground Zero.”