From a mashup of Enter Sandman and Van Halen's Panama to Battery performed in a major key, we've heard our fair share of fan-made Metallica cuts as of late. But it looks like we're in for some fresh material from the thrash-metal titans themselves pretty soon.
In a new interview with Fierce Firearms' The Fierce Life podcast, frontman James Hetfield revealed that the group have been collaborating via Zoom throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and recently assembled at Metallica HQ to work on new music.
“Because of Covid, just sitting at home and getting a little bit antsy and just feeling creative at the same time and wanting to get together, I started doing a weekly Zoom with those guys just to check in,” Hetfield explains.
“And then I just told them one time, ‘Hey, I’m gonna write something. I’m just gonna play something and send it to you guys. You do whatever you want with it and see what happens and layer on to it.’
“So that’s how we did a version of Blackened 2020. I just basically played something. They hadn’t heard it before. They played on it. Then it kind of got layered together.”
“Then we started experimenting with writing on Zoom. Lars [Ulrich] and I would get together, or Kirk [Hammett] and Lars, and we would get little bits of time here and there writing. It was difficult because of the delay in the sound, so we couldn’t actually play together, but we would play to a click track and watch each other play.
“We had our producer, who was running my computer while I was playing. He was running my computer from LA, and I’m in Vail [Colorado]. And then Lars had an assistant running his computer from LA – he’s up here in San Francisco – and we were playing together, and it was pretty bizarre.
“We started writing. We got about – I don’t know – over 10 songs going that way. And then we finally got together. There’s only so much you can do on Zoom.”
Last year, Lars Ulrich revealed that Metallica were “into some pretty serious writing” for a new album. However, he explained that writing in a pandemic is not without its challenges.
“Being in a rock and roll band and working virtually is not super-easy,” he said. “Time delays, all these things make it really hard.”
He continued: “If I’m doing what we call steering – which means that I’m playing a beat and they’re playing to me – I can’t hear what they’re playing, and vice versa. We can’t all hear each other in a universal fashion. “So there are some significant complications we have.”