Hatebreed, Cannibal Corpse, Unearth, Hate Eternal and Born of Osiris just crisscrossed North America, demonstrating the power of the package. And we're not referring to the virility and sexual prowess of the musicians -- despite Unearth guitarist Ken Susi's declaration at the beginning of our latest podcast, "I'm fertile, ladies," or his slightly unsettling fascination with Hate Eternal frontman Erik Rutan's deep, manly radio voice.

No, we're talking about the power of the touring package -- giving the consumers more bang for their buck in an economic climate that favors staying home and watching 'CSI' over going out and rocking up a storm. It's something that's happening everywhere: This summer's Mayhem Fest offered over a dozen bands including Marilyn Manson, Slayer, Killswitch Engage and, of course, Cannibal Corpse at an affordable ticket price; Dethklok, Mastodon, Converge and High on Fire tore it up on the same bill; and recently Megadeth, Slayer and Testament announced that they'll tour together in early 2010, nearly duplicating the legendary Clash of the Titans lineup that went out in Europe in 1990.

"We're trying everything to sell tickets nowadays," Susi told ''Creep Show.' "It's a tough market."

"The industry itself is in a state of flux," agreed Hate Eternal frontman and accomplished producer Erik Rutan. "You just try to be ahead of the curve all the time. Having heard about this a while ago, I knew this would be an awesome package."

Of course, the musicians at the table -- Susi, Rutan and Cannibal Corpse drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz -- didn't just talk about the economics of their package. They also gabbed about the pick-up football games they played in their downtime and revealed that monster Cannibal Corpse vocalist George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher and Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta were not present for most of the action. Jasta, they joked, was probably circling above in a helicopter overseeing the proceedings. And Fisher spent his time Christmas shopping.

"He's this huge, intimidating guy, and we got to be friends," Susi said. "One day he comes up to me and goes, 'Look at this cool hat.' And it said 'Merry Christmas' and had snowmen on it."

Between quips and anecdotes, the musicians addressed their future plans. Susi said Unearth will embark on the Atticus tour next year before setting in and writing the follow-up to 2008's 'The March.' Cannibal Corpse will tour South America early next year, will launch another U.S. tour in April or May and will head to Europe for the summer festival season. Mazurkiewicz added that the band will also be writing new material and hope to return to the studio by the end of 2010. Rutan revealed his hopes to produce the next Morbid Angel album early next year and said he plans to start on the follow-up to Hate Eternal's 'Fury and Flames' in early May.

Once they finished plugging themselves and their packages, Mazurkiewicz, Susi and Rutan joined panelists Jon Wiederhorn and Chris Harris for our year-end discussion about the best, worst and most forgettable moments in metal in 2009. Subjects included: Axl Rose slugging a photographer at LAX airport in Los Angeles, Mayhem getting arrested for thrashing a hotel in Holland, Bret Michaels getting clocked by a dropping curtain at the Tony Awards and Alice in Chains' stellar comeback and awesome new album.

Enjoy the podcast, Happy Holidays and until next year, be safe.

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