It's been five long years since Metallica released their last studio album, St. Anger--which quite frankly, made some fans angry. It was largely not considered the finest offering in the illustrious Metallica catalog. But considering what went down during its creation--the departure of bassist Jason Newsted, the rehabilitation of frontman James Hetfield, the inter-band squabbling, all the breakdowns captured on camera for the utterly fascinating psychobabbling rockumentary Some Kind Of Monster--it's amazing that St. Anger even got made at all, or that Metallica actually stayed together to make a follow-up.
Well, what a difference five years makes. With a new producer (Rick Rubin, instead of longtime collaborator Bob Rock), new bassist Robert Trujillo, James's newfound sobriety, and a new album titled Death Magnetic (out this week), Metallica are thankfully back from brink. Having survived what Hetfield only semi-jokingly calls "the near-death of Metallica," they sound stronger and steelier than they have in years on their hotly tipped, salivatingly awaited new disc--which, thrillingly, hearkens back to the band's classic And Justice for All period.
And judging from Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich's good spirits and refreshing candor during their recent Yahoo! Music interview, all that Monster therapy has apparently helped them immensely, both personally and professionally. Metallica truly seem like a new band now.
Here's that interview, shot last week at Metallica's super-secret, super-cool Northern Californian headquarters (a headbanger's paradise decorated with one-of-a-kind 'Tallica memorabilia, Day Of The Dead knick-knacks, heavy-metal pinball machines, old-skool graffiti, even a skull-festooned Metallica fishtank)--in which James and Lars surprisingly cheerfully discuss how they managed to emerge from the darkest chapter of their career and eventually see the light. It's nice to have them back:
And below are some exclusive behind-the-scenes clips of the band hard at work with Rick Rubin at their super-cool NoCal compound, puttining the finishing touches on Death Magnetic.
Clearly, Death becomes them: