When bands head into the studio to record, a lot of the time they have no idea what they're going to end up calling the finished product. Bands will often employ amusing "working titles," just so they have some point of reference as they hammer away at the new material. After all, it's hard to talk about something when you don't know what to call it.
Opeth are no different. The Swedish death-metallers aren't sure yet what they'll wind up naming their new album, which they started recording November 1 and just finished tracking. But contrary to online reports, the band's second Roadrunner Records effort certainly won't be titled A Holocaust on the Moon — "I never heard that one before," frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt told Metal File last week, mere hours after returning home from the studio.
So, just what are they calling the follow-up to 2005's Ghost Reveries for the time being? What they call every album, up until the point they decide to give it a proper christening: Suck Pu---.
"I'm sure that's going to change," Åkerfeldt said with a laugh. "I have to come up with something cool."
According to Åkerfeldt, the forthcoming LP was one of his favorite to make, and sounds like an album he'd go out and buy.
"I had more fun working on this album than any of the past records," he confided. "I have always seen the recording of an album as having loads of problems for a month or two. But this one was easy. It was fun and it was interesting. I could probably say I even enjoyed it."
But the recording wasn't entirely hassle-free. The disc will feature a church organ on one track, which was recorded inside a real church. The Opeth boys convinced the local clergy to let them use their organ for an afternoon. "And [keyboardist] Per Wiberg went in there and broke it, playing a really doomy, devilish-sounding riff." Åkerfeldt is still waiting on an estimate from the church on how much it's going to cost to have it repaired.
Opeth's ninth studio set is due to arrive in stores in the spring, smack-dab in the middle of their U.S. trek with Dream Theater, 3, and Between the Buried and Me. "We recorded it in two studios — bass in one studio, guitars in the other — so I haven't had the control over this recording as I have had in the past," the singer said. "So I'm not 100 percent sure how everything sounds, but I know it's going to be great."
The band's self-produced record will contain seven epic tracks, the average running time being somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 minutes.
"These songs are a bit more energetic," Åkerfeldt said. "It reminds me of our third record, [1998's My Arms, Your Hearse,] because it's very energetic. It doesn't sound like a tired, old-man's band. It sounds like a band that's really enjoying to play, and it's pretty insane. It's very, very diverse, and there are lots of things going on that we've never done before. There are a lot of love/hate moments; I feel like some people are going to think it's absolute sh--, but it's really interesting. It won't be a boring record, let me put it that way."
The singer used a keyboard to write and record the majority of the demo tracks at home, so he could be there with his pregnant wife, Anna. The couple welcomed their second daughter, Mirjam Ebba Maria Åkerfeldt, on October 28.
"I was just fooling around with a Fender Rhodes-type of sound, like a '70s sound, and I came up with a lick that sounded like some free-form Chick Corea," he said of the demos. "So it has more fusion moments, I think. The heavy parts are faster, and I made sure to phrase the lyrics in a way I never have before — it's really tight and fast, the screams. They're rapid-fire. I don't cover 10 seconds with one long big scream, I really concentrated on the lyrics this time."
The lyrics are too personal for the frontman to discuss at length, he said, but do reflect a changed Åkerfeldt. "Now that I'm a dad, I'm more worried about everything. It's quite inspirational," he said. "I get more affected with grief and the woes of the world, so to speak. I never thought I'd become one of those people who cared about anything but himself — I feel I've been selfish in the past. But my daughter has changed me a lot, maybe more than I could ever imagine. So, having her did make me think about certain things, and they're in the songs."
While the spring will see Opeth's new album, a disc that was actually supposed to drop before it won't be out until the fall. Åkerfeldt said the DVD companion to the band's recent live release, The Roundhouse Tapes, has been delayed and likely won't be out until next fall, when the band hopes to be back in the States with a coast-to-coast headlining tour.
Opeth's summer plans remain open, but the singer doubts the band would be willing to play Ozzfest.
"I'm kind of mixed with Ozzfest," he confided. "What I've heard from friends of mine that played that tour, they said it's good for exposure but is horrible in many other ways. We would only do that, I think, if we got a paying offer — we don't do charity shows for Mr. Osbourne. Even if we were to play for free, we'd want a good slot, and we'd want to play for a long, long time."
Before the interview was over, Metal File asked Åkerfeldt if he'd ever seen "Metalocalypse," the animated Adult Swim series featuring a character named Toki Wartooth, long believed to be based on the Opeth mastermind.
"I've never seen an entire episode," he said. Next came a pause, after which the singer revealed: "It's f---ing surreal, because I got e-mails from this cartoon character, Toki, all the time. He's e-mailing me, and writing funny e-mails and stuff like that. I checked him out, on his MySpace page, and he's e-mailing me from there. I had no idea who was e-mailing me, it was just this guy who presented himself as Toki. I never got to know the actual guy who was writing me, so I was f---ing e-mailing with a cartoon character. I'd asked him if he was based on me, and he said he was, which is cool. I love cartoons."
The rest of the week's metal news:
What in the name of hell is going on here? Gorgoroth, one of Norway's premier black-metal bands, has experienced a major split in the ranks that's messier than a chainsaw massacre. Founding guitarist Infernus, who left the trio in October, announced that he had rights to the name and would continue as Gorgoroth with different bandmates, prompting lawyers to swoop in from all sides in a battle to determine who would keep the pernicious moniker. On December 13, the band's label, Regain Records, issued a statement announcing that it was siding with Infernus. Then, on Wednesday, authorities at the Norwegian patent office Patentstyret determined that King ov Hell (a.k.a. Tom Cato Visnes) and Gaahl (Kristian Eivind Espedal) were legally entitled to keep the Gorgoroth title. Following the verdict, King Ov Hell and Gaahl announced in a statement they were severing ties with Regain "given their disloyal acts." They added that "any third parties who use the name Gorgoroth from now on will be met with legal prosecution." Both the Gaahl-fronted Gorgoroth and Infernus are currently working on the follow-up to Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam, which came out in summer 2006 at a time when Gaahl was in jail for severely beating a man and threatening to drink his blood. C'mon, he only threatened. ...
As I Lay Dying singer Tim Lambesis and Life of Agony guitarist Joey Z have teamed up to produce the new album by Queens, New York, hardcore band Sworn Enemy, Maniacal, which comes out February 12. Since the band was between drummers at the time of recording, As I Lay Dying's Jordan Mancino laid down all the drum tracks. Since then, Sworn Enemy have hired J-Rad. Maniacal was mixed by Daniel Castleman (AILD, Winds of Plague). ... Teenage thrash band Black Tide have announced February 26 as the release date for their debut album, Light From Above, which includes "Shout," "Black Abyss" and a cover of Metallica's "Hit the Lights." The disc was produced by Johnny K (Finger Eleven, Kill Hannah) at Groovemaster Recording in Chicago. ... Not-quite-teenage Los Angeles thrash band Warbringer — they're a little older than Black Tide — have shot a performance-based video for "Combat Shock" with director Dan Dobi, who has previously worked with Cannibal Corpse. The video is expected to debut online in early 2008. The band's debut full-length, War Without End, comes out February 5. Warbringer will head out on the road with Exodus, Goatwhore and Arsis starting January 20 in Bakersfield, California. Dates run through February 24 in San Francisco. ...
The Number Twelve Looks Like You have shot a video for "Grandfather!" that will debut in January. The track comes from their third album, Mongrel, which came out in June. ... Amon Amarth's U.S. tour roared to a close Wednesday night at Hollywood's Avalon. During the show, the band took time to pay tribute to Decapitated drummer Witold "Vitek" Kieltyka, who recently died after sustaining injuries in a car crash. Decapitated were supposed to be on the bill with Amon but departed after the tragedy. The Viking-metal band devoted its song "Fate of Norns" to Vitek, and frontman Johan Hegg led the audience in a lengthy applause for the fallen drummer. Openers Himsa also devoted a song to Vitek. ...
Hardcore-metal band Winds of Plague will release their new album, Decimate the Weak, February 5. The disc was recorded with Daniel Castleman (As I Lay Dying, A Love Ends Suicide) and mixed by Tue Madsen (the Haunted, Himsa). Winds of Plague's first run to support the album starts January 24 in Rapid City, South Dakota — they'll be on tour supporting Dead to Fall. Dates are scheduled through February 16 in Detroit. Impending Doom and Belay My Last are also on the bill. ... Raleigh, North Carolina, doom band Daylight Dies have entered the studio to record their fourth album, Lost to the Living, which is tentatively scheduled for release in late spring. "We feel the album is not only our most refined material to date but also displays our most varied assortment of dark, desperate and melancholic music," drummer Jesse Haff said in a statement. Daylight Dies will open for Candlemass on their upcoming North American tour, which starts May 19 in West Springfield, Virginia. Additional dates are pending. ... Modern thrash band Scarecrow — which features members of Exhumed, Repulsion, Noothgrush, Vicious Rumors and Dekapitator — will release a split-CD with grindcore blasters Landmine Marathon on February 19. The disc was recorded by Landmine Marathon guitarist Ryan Butler (Northside Kings) at his studio, Arcane Digital Recording. Butler has also recorded Phobia, Exhumed, Misery Index, Dekapitator and others.