Drummer Lars Ulrich took to the chatroom on Metallica's official Web site earlier this week to update fans on the status of the group's next studio album. "For the first time ever," Ulrich said Metall

Drummer Lars Ulrich took to the chatroom on Metallica's official Web site earlier this week to update fans on the status of the group's next studio album. "For the first time ever," Ulrich said Metallica has "discarded some songs" that it didn't feel were up to snuff. "We are now on what we call round two on the keepers," he added.

Ulrich said the as-yet-untitled Elektra set will feature "north of 10, south of 20" tracks. Asked when it would be released, he replied, "same stock answer -- around four weeks after its done." As previously reported, the set will be the band's first since the departure of bassist Jason Newsted and frontman James Hetfield's stint in rehab. Producer Bob Rock is playing bass on the album; it is not known if a permanent replacement for Newsted is in the offing.

Meanwhile, Hetfield has recorded a cover of the late Waylon Jennings' "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand" for a Jennings tribute album, due in February via RCA. According to the Metallica site, Hetfield played all the instruments and sang on the cut, which was produced by Rock. Other artists expected to appear on the set include Ben Harper, John Mellencamp, Hank Williams Jr., Kid Rock and Kenny Chesney, George Jones and Emmylou Harris, and Travis Tritt.

As previously reported, Metallica covers "53rd and 3rd" on Columbia/DV8's upcoming Ramones tribute album "We're a Happy Family." The set, which has been pushed back on several occasions, is now due March 18.

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