Metallica is "a couple of nips and tucks" away from completeting its next album, which is still on target for a September release, according to drummer Lars Ulrich. "We've pretty much finished the mus

Metallica is "a couple of nips and tucks" away from completing its next album, which is still on target for a September release, according to drummer Lars Ulrich.

During a conference call yesterday (May 15) promoting this year's Bonnaroo Music Festival, which Metallica will headline on June 13, Ulrich told reporters that the group hopes to wrap up work on the album in time for the Memorial Day weekend holiday. Metallica recently met with a graphic designer to begin planning the package, though there's no confirmed title for the album yet and the songs still have working names.

"We sort of promised ourselves that unlike all the records we made in the '90s, [which] were just completely stressed-out and just nutty, that we were gonna try and have a little more sane environment -- and we've actually, surprising mostly to ourselves, been able to keep to that," Ulrich said. "We've pretty much finished the music now, so all the next level stuff is just starting to go down."

Ulrich said Metallica came into the project with 26 songs, which were knocked down to 14 when the group started working with producer Rick Rubin. There are now 11 slated for the album, though Ulrich said "length issues" might mean one more has to be eliminated.

"These are long songs ... we're talking seven-minute, eight-minute, nine-minute nutty-ass songs," Ulrich revealed. "We don't make them long or short on purpose; you just kind of do what feels natural. We're not really gonna edit them, (so) we're gonna lose another one at some point in the next month or so and probably end up with 10."

Ulrich described the material as "definitely pretty all over the place. There's a lot of variation, a lot of fast, slow, melodic ... kind of hardcore, nutty super-fast speed stuff. It's a little more like how some of the earlier records were a little more dynamic within the songs."

Ulrich was not sure how much of the new material Metallica will preview on the road this summer, although he said that "by the time we come to Bonnaroo hopefully we'll have some new stuff ready."

The group is playing radio festivals this weekend in Arizona and California before heading to Europe for an annual festival run that will be interrupted by Bonnaroo and the lone Ozzfest date on Aug. 9 in Frisco, Texas. An extensive North American tour is expected to follow the album's release.