The arrest in late February of former Static-X guitarist Tripp Eisen on charges of kidnapping, sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a minor — which stemmed from his alleged sexual involvement with two underage girls he'd met online — shocked Wayne Static, the heavy-metal band's frontman.

"We can't seem to put out an album without any drama," said Static, who is known for his tall wall of thick, jet-black hair. "I've talked to Tripp a couple of times. We haven't spoken about his case. Just like, 'How you doing?' We were as shocked as everyone else to hear about his arrest. There isn't really anything to talk about. If we thought he was up to no good, we wouldn't have kept time with him."

Eisen remains in police custody in California on $1 million bail and, according to Static, understood the band's collective decision to fire him. After all, Static-X have a new album, Start a War, ready for release on June 14, and there's a tour with American Head Charge and Bloodsimple they need to kick off in Las Vegas on June 8.

Static-X, now with Osaka, Japan, axeman Koichi Fukuda back in the fold, will shoot a video next week for the album's first single, "I'm the One." Paul Brown (Brides of Destruction, Marilyn Manson) will be behind the lens.

Start a War — which includes tracks like "My Damnation" and "Brainfog" — features fewer electronic elements and a greater emphasis on aggressive guitar riffage, according to Static. "All of our records seem to capture a certain period of time for us," he explained. "We had such a great time on tour that we wanted to continue that and have a lot of fun in the studio, and that comes through in the music. I wanted to strip things down on this record, so there's less loops and more straight-up drumming. It just has more of a live-band feel than our previous records."

The rest of this week's metal news:

While Scandinavian death metallers Dark Tranquility have been playing the heavy-metal game going on 17 years now, they've never amassed an Ozzfest-worthy following. Still, they've arguably become one of the genre's most resilient torchbearers. Their latest record, Character, is packed with solid, gloomy material. Frontman Mikael Stanne said, in surprisingly stellar English, that it "has been much more successful than any of our other albums," despite the fact that it's perhaps the band's least accessible work. For their latest video — for Character's infectious, ferocious opener, "The New Build" — Dark Tranquility brought director friend Roger Johansson (who shot the "Lost to Apathy" clip) on the road in Europe to film seven of the band's live gigs. "So the video's from that, the whole tour, and [features] lots of live footage, our antics backstage and us walking around in beautiful European cities," Stanne said. The band will wrap up its current U.S. tour on May 8 and then head to South America for a two-week road stint. Look for them back in the States in September. ...

As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage and Soilwork will be playing shows on Ozzfest off-dates this summer. A list of dates for these select gigs is expected within the week. ... Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar and Alabama Thunderpussy will embark on the Stone Breakers and Hellraisers Tour this summer, starting June 2 in Indianapolis. Dates are scheduled through June 14 in Wilmington, North Carolina. COC's first album in five years, In the Arms of God, was released April 12. Crowbar's most recent offering, Lifesblood for the Downtrodden, came out February 8, and Alabama Thunderpussy's Fulton Hill hit store shelves last year. ... The pride of Swedish metal, the progressive and melodic Opeth, have added keyboardist Per Wiberg as a full-time, permanent member of the band. Opeth, who've been toiling away on their next release, will — along with Lamb of God, Clutch and Poison the Well — co-headline the inaugural Sounds of the Underground Tour, which kicks off in Lowell, Massachusetts, on June 25. ...

New York hardcore/metal vets Madball are in a Massachusetts studio with producer Zeuss (Hatebreed, Throwdown) working on their first studio album in five years. Legacy will come out in September and will feature singer Freddy Cricien and bassist Hoya's return to the band, following their work with their other group, Hazen Street. Madball will tour this summer on Sounds of the Underground. ... Technologically driven metalheads Fear Factory's new album, Transgression, has been scheduled for an August 23 release. The disc will include "New Promise" (co-written with Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton), "540,000 Degrees Fahrenheit" and "Echo of My Scream," which will feature former Faith No More bassist Billy Gould. ...

Toronto's No Warning, the first band signed to Linkin Park's Machine Shop label, will release their third album, Suffer, Survive, on October 19. In November, the band will tour with the Used, and in December it will hit the road with Hatebreed. ... Ex-Crown guitarist Marko Tervonen has started a new group called Angel Blake with Transport League singer Tony Jelencovich. The band will enter the studio at the end of the month to work on a batch of tracks, including "Lycanthrope," "Self-Terminate" and "Thousand Storms." Tervonen says the new material is pretty different than the Crown, featuring "no blast beats" and revolving around "heavy, melancholic songs." ...

Full Blown Chaos have been added to Himsa's upcoming Dirty Black Summer Tour, which goes down in June with Scars of Tomorrow, the Agony Scene and the Esoteric. An announcement of dates and venues is forthcoming. ... Great White will return to the road Friday (May 6) in Rockford, Illinois, and will remain on tour through September 10, when they'll play in Fort Worth, Texas. All proceeds will benefit the Station Family Fund, which provides assistance to victims of the Rhode Island fire at the Station, which killed 100 people. ... Tampa Bay, Florida, melodic death-metal band the Absence have finished recording their debut full-length with Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal, Morbid Angel). ...

English grindcore legends Bolt Thrower are in final rehearsals for their eighth, as-yet-untitled studio album. Next week, the band will enter Sable Rose Studios for three months to record the disc, which is tentatively scheduled for November release. Bolt Thrower's last album was 2001's Honour Valour Pride. ... Metalcore band Bury Your Dead will record their May 10 concert at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, California, for an upcoming DualDisc live album and DVD. The as-yet-untitled album is scheduled for release July 12. ... New Jersey quintet Agents of Man will release their debut album, Count Your Blessings, on June 14. The disc was produced by Mike Barilie (Candiria, 40 Below Summer) at Purple Light Studios in Brooklyn.