Metal File: Drop Dead, Gorgeous; Avenged Sevenfold; Throwdown & More News That Rules

With metalcore band's 17-year-old guitarist out of school, 'there's no more restrictions,' frontman says.

The lads in Denver metalcore outfit Drop Dead, Gorgeous don't pick up hitchhikers anymore. They used to. All the time, in fact. They'd be driving down some forsaken highway in the middle of nowhere, spot a stranded motorist trucking his way to the nearest gas station and stop — giving some hapless soul a lift was the least they could do.

And then there was the one night when they collected that dude who was packing heat, unbeknownst to them.

"Last May, we picked up this hitchhiker in New Mexico on our way to Arizona," frontman Aaron Rothe explained. "He was stranded, without gas. We drove him about 20 miles to a gas station, and he was going to have a cop drive him back to the rest stop he'd left his car at. And the cop starts patting him down, and he found a gun on the guy."

Rothe doesn't believe the man posed much of a threat. But the experience was enlightening. What if the guy had robbed Drop Dead — or worse yet, decided to pop a cap in one of the bandmembers? Needless to say, if you're not a member of the band, chances are you won't be seeing the inside of their van anytime soon.

While Drop Dead — who released their first studio LP, In Vogue, back in May — haven't been together for long, they've certainly accomplished plenty. Last month, the metallers signed with Suretone Records, an Interscope imprint launched by former Geffen Records President Jordan Schur. (The label is also home to the Cure, Angels & Airwaves, Weezer, New Found Glory and Audioslave's Chris Cornell.) And Drop Dead — who list Norma Jean, the Bled and Underoath as influences — count producer Ross Robinson (Norma Jean, the Cure) as one of their biggest fans. Robinson plans on helming their forthcoming sophomore album — which Rothe said is slated for release in the summer — and the guys are planning to move to California in January to be closer to the producer as they begin work on the effort.

"He sort of discovered us through MySpace, and Ross took us to [Schur] and was like, 'You have to hear this band — I can do a lot with these guys,' " Rothe said. Not long after, Drop Dead were in Los Angeles, putting pen to paper. "We're nervous about working with Ross, because we're huge fans of everything he's done and we never thought we'd have a chance to work with someone like him. He's just really pumped on our band. It doesn't seem right to me, but I'm not going to complain about that.

"One thing we've learned about Ross is he won't change the band," the singer continued. "People think they can tell you that you've got to look like this, play this type of music. But with Suretone, it hasn't been like that at all. It's about us and the music we want to write, and they're not going to go in and change it up."

Drop Dead — whose eldest member is just 20 years old — have been writing material for their yet-untitled record in between tours. The band, which has opened for the likes of Bullet for My Valentine and Eighteen Visions, is currently on the road with Greeley Estates and will head out with Senses Fail, Saosin and Alexisonfire for a brief run that launches January 29 in Lubbock, Texas. The band hopes to earn a spot on one of this summer's festival bills — specifically the Warped Tour.

The songs Drop Dead are working on at the moment, Rothe said, won't upset fans of In Vogue. "But our sound is much more developed and a little more unique," he added. "We're more comfortable playing live, and we know what we're doing more now."

Drop Dead are hardly a bunch of experienced road dogs. They've only been touring full-time since June.

"Our guitarist [Kyle Browning] is only 17, so we had to wait for him to get out of school before we could head out," Rothe explained. "He's actually dropped out of school and is doing online classes now, just so we can tour. But it did put a damper on things for a while. Now there's no more restrictions."

The rest of the week's metal news:

Avenged Sevenfold frontman M. Shadows says the band plans to take its time writing the follow-up to 2005's City of Evil. While the boys have been working on new material for a few weeks now, Shadows doesn't see the band hitting the studio until at least May. And when Avenged do, the singer said they'll track the disc without the benefit of a seasoned producer. "We're 90 percent sure we're going to produce it ourselves," said Shadows, who recently helped produce the Confession's new LP. "We want to do it ourselves because we know what we want." He said fans can expect the album's tracks to be bigger and longer, and added that he hopes to have the disc out by the fall. ... Cradle of Filth will storm North American shores starting January 23 in Sayreville, New Jersey. The 14-date tour to support the band's new album Thornography runs through February 9 in Calgary, Alberta. In addition to regular tickets, fans can purchase VIP packages for an extra $30, for which they'll receive early entry to the show, a limited-edition T-shirt, signed photo and an invite to a meet-and-greet with the band. ...

Sam Dunn, co-director of "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey," isn't just a heavy-metal academic — he's also a performer with a specialty in old-school thrash. His band Burn to Black recently released their debut, Mach 666, a disc influenced by some of the members' favorite bands, including Sadus, Morbid Angel, Autopsy, Forbidden and the Crown. "As musicians, we feel that thrash has lost a lot of its rawness over the years and has become too slick and polished," said Dunn, who plays bass in the group. Singer Rob Ouellette, guitarists Mike Krestel and Paul Harrington and drummer Evan Johnston round out the band. While Burn to Black will play select shows in their hometown of Toronto, they won't tour extensively, since Dunn is too busy jet-setting for his next movie, "Global Metal." That film will trace the growth of heavy metal across the world. ...

Throwdown will enter an L.A. studio in December with producer Mudrock (Eighteen Visions, Avenged Sevenfold) to record their next full-length, Venom and Tears. The album is scheduled for release in the summer. "We've got around 26 songs that are in various forms and stages from 'All done' to 'Well, I've got this one riff that's pretty sweet,' " the band said in a post on its MySpace page. Throwdown's last album, Vendetta, came out in 2005. ... This winter Voivod will begin pre-production on the follow-up to their 2006 album, Katorz. But that doesn't mean the bandmembers have been kicking back at Club Med. Recently they created a video for the Katorz track "The Getaway" by editing together footage from the album's recording session and the band's 2003 U.S. tour. Currently, the band is working on a clip for "Polaroids" and will follow with a video for "The X-Stream." Voivod are also finalizing plans to re-release their early back catalog in 2007 on the End Records. Drummer Michel "Away" Langevin said the band will start with 1986's Rrröööaaarrr, the following year's Killing Technology and '88's Dimension Hatröss. He said each LP will be remastered and upped with a bonus DVD. ...

When he hasn't been screaming with Godhead, frontman Jason C. Miller has been doing cartoon voiceovers for Nickelodeon's "Avatar: The Last Airbender." He voices five characters on the show, including Scary Prisoner, whose shaven head and tattooed body was modeled after Miller — he also works as an actor and stuntman. Godhead's latest album, The Shadow Line, came out in August and was produced by ex-Evanescence guitarist and songwriter Ben Moody. ... Greek band Rotting Christ have been forced to postpone their U.S. winter tour until May "due to bureaucratic problems with obtaining visas," the members announced in a press release. Rotting Christ's 10th album, Theogonia, comes out January 23 and includes "The Sign of Prime Creation," "Enuma Elish," "Gaia Tellus" and "Phobos' Synogogue." ... Swiss noise-metal band Kruger are recording their new album Redemption Through Looseness in Lausanne, Switzerland. The album is scheduled for an April release. Kruger's last effort, Cattle Truck, came out earlier this year. ...

Swedish melodic death-metal band Dark Tranquillity have finished recording their eighth studio album, which is being mixed in Denmark by Tue Madsen. On their Web site, singer Mikael Stanne described the sessions as "smooth and focused," adding, "The overall feeling that we are creating something amazing has really driven us through this." The only remaining hard part for Stanne is titling the eclectic album. "How can I sum up in a title something that is everything and nothing, grounded and out there, introverted and extra-terrestrial all at the same time?" he asked. We're sure he'll find a way before the album's release in the spring. ... Suffocation have posted the video for "Abomination Reborn," the first from their self-titled comeback album. (Check it out right here.) The clip was shot in Brooklyn, New York, with director Frankie Nasso (All That Remains, Hatebreed) and producers Dale Resteghini and Melissa Manousos of Raging Nations Films. Another new video from Nasso and Resteghini, Misery Index's "Conquistadores," can also be viewed on YouTube. (See it right here.) That video was shot in Brooklyn too. Misery Index issued their second album, Discordia, in May. ...

San Francisco power-metal band Hammers of Misfortune have seriously revamped their lineup. Singer and guitarist Mike Scalzi and singer/bassist Jamie Myers have left and been replaced by singer/guitarist Patrick Goodwin and singer Jesse Quattro. The group will debut its new lineup at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, in March. ... Death-metal veterans Immolation are working on material for their next album at drummer Steve Shalaty's house in Ohio. "The songs are shorter, but pack more of a punch," guitarist Robert Vigna said. "They kick you hard right from the start and leave you pummeled by the end. It's definitely a darker, meaner album." Paul Orofino, who produced Immolation's last four discs, will work on the album at Millbrook Sound Studios in Millbrook, New York. ... Chicago comedy grind band 7000 Dying Rats will release their third album, Season in Hell, January 9. The 28-track recording is the band's first since 2001's The Sound of No Hands Clapping.