But before they can record their first set since 2008, the metal icons are preparing the Orion Music festival and a 3D movie. "We're getting there," says bassist Robert Trujillo, "and we'll have something great, hopefully, in the next year"
As it prepares for its second Orion Music + More festival, taking place this year June 8-9 on Belle Isle in Detroit after starting last year in Atlantic City, Metallica also has its sights on future projects -- including its upcoming 3D film and a follow-up to 2008's "Death Magnetic" (and the 2011 "Beyond Magnetic" EP).
"I want it done yesterday," frontman James Hetfield tells Billboard about the group's next album, "and (Orion) and this movie is keeping us pretty busy at this point and it's taking a lot of our time and effort. We've been touring some obscure places; I guess basically what we're trying to do is pay for this movie, so the touring is keeping us from getting in there and finishing the record. Right now the focus is on the movie."
That said, Hetfield adds that the quartet has at least made a start on a new album.
"Yeah, we got out into the room and jammed and we've come up with enough material for a record, for sure," Hetfield says. "We've gone through maybe one-tenth of the material that's on our riffs CDs. We've got enough for an album, we just haven't had enough time to really focus on it and dial in and start whittling it into these masterpieces, hopefully."
Bassist Robert Trujillo points out that "the work ethic is super, super strong, and that's what takes us longer than other bands, because we're sitting there and sometimes we're really analyzing things. I mean, for every one lyric, Hetfield has, like three lyric possibilities. But I can tell you this; the grooves and the riffs that are already on the radar are really, really awesome. We've still got more riffs to go through and jam out and throw into the process, but we're getting there, and we'll have something great, hopefully, in the next year."
Before then, of course, we'll be seeing "Metallica Through the Never," the Nimrod Antal-directed film that mixes Metallica performance footage (filmed last year in Vancouver) with a script that stars actor Dane DeHaan as a member of the Metallica crew who has to carry out a mysterious assignment while the band is playing onstage. The film debuts Sept. 27 in the U.S. and will be accompanied by a soundtrack album, while drummer Lars Ulrich is currently at the Cannes Film Festival with international distributor Exclusive Media looking or overseas buyers.
"The film is not done, but we're extremely close." Hetfield says. "There's editing, dialing, sounds, mixing, things like that that have to happen. But it's pretty complex. It's like three movies in one...So there's a lot of different dynamics happening within this movie, and every time we go and see it and tweak here and there. It's like putting a song together -- only it's a little more expensive. It's pretty scary but it's been something on our radar for awhile. It's become more unique than we ever though it would."
Metallica has not yet announced whether it will offer any kind of sneak peak of the film in Ulrich's "Hit The Lights Films" tent at this year's Orion. Both single-day tickets and weekend packages are currently on sale for the festival via www.orionmusicandmore.com.