Swiss folk metallers ELUVEITIE have parted ways with guitarist Simeon Koch after eight years.Commented the band: "Sime was thinking about this since quite a long time already and finally decided to take this step. He will set about some new goals in his life — both vocational and familial — which will make it impossible for him to play in a touring band. "Sime was part of ELUVEITIE for right years now, part of our little, crazy family — and we will dearly miss him. But at the same time we're thankful for the awesome time we spent together. We wish him and his family all the best for his personal and vocational future! "We'd like to make you aware of two special shows: Sime will share the stage with us as special guest on the 20th of September in the Kofmehl (Solothurn, CH) and on the 29th of December in the Eulachhalle (Eluveitie & Friends festival, Winterthur, CH)! Don't miss it! "At the same time it's about time to introduce you to the man who will follow in Sime's footsteps! His name is Rafael Salzmann [pictured below] and he will play the upcoming tours with us as a live session guitarist. "Rafael is a gifted musician and very skilled guitar player and he also already has been working together with Anna in the Soundfarm Studios. Now we're looking forward a lot to rock the stages together with him! "On a related note, Päde [Kistler, flutes] will have to take a short leave for personal reasons as well and will rejoin our tour with SABATON in the beginning of October. In the meantime, there's still seven of us left to kick some ass all over Europe!" Added Simeon Koch: "A couple of months ago, I informed my bandmates that I'll leave ELUVEITIE in September 2012 for familial reasons. It was a very tough call, it was difficult to make this decision — in a way the band is part of the family too, after all. I will dearly miss ELUVEITIE. But, fortunately, the world (or rather Switzerland) is small: I will still play the upcoming shows in Solothurn's Kofmehl and the Eluveitie & Friends festival with full commitment! I wish the band all the best and accident-free upcoming tours!" ELUVEITIE and Finnish metallers WINTERSUN will embark on a North American co-headlining tour this winter. The trek will commemorate ELUVEITIE's 10th anniversary as well as serve as WINTERSUN's introduction to North American audiences. Also appearing on the bill will be the German pagan metal band VARG. ELUVEITIE's latest album, "Helvetios", sold 4,200 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 143 on The Billboard 200 chart. The CD landed at position No. 3 on the Top New Artist Albums (Heatseekers) chart, which lists the best-selling albums by new and developing artists, defined as those who have never appeared in the Top 100 of The Billboard 200. "Helvetios" was released in Europe on February 10 via Nuclear Blast RecordsNew Sound Studio in Pfäffikon, a municipality in the canton of Zurich in Switzerland, with producer Tommy Vetterli (a.k.a. Tommy T. Baron; CORONER/ex-KREATOR guitarist). According to the band, Vetterli "record[ed] drums, guitars and vocals and also produc[ed] and mix[ed] the record. Most folk instruments and also vocals [were] recorded by Anna Murphy and Marco Jencarelli at the Soundfarm studios in Lucerne."