I have to admit, I didn't think they had it in 'em anymore, especially after the mess of St Anger, but with 2007's Death Magnetic, Metallica did come back in fine style.
They'll never outdo their greatest masterpiece, Master of Puppets, or Ride the Lightning, but was Death Magnetic a very respectable effort? You bet.
Metallica had been with Elektra, which is part of the Warner Brothers family, for many years. The band nearly walked away from their deal in 1994 when the head of Elektra, Bob Krasnow, left the label, and the idiot replacing him, Bob Morgado, refused to give the band what they wanted when they were up to renew their deal.
Eventually it all got straightened out because the band threatened to go to court with the seven year statute that no contract can hold anyone that long, a statute that would have set bad precedent in the music business if any band were able to win it in court. (Part of Metallica's renegotiation, and one of the biggest sticking points, was the ownership of their master tapes, which they did finally win).
For Death Magnetic, Metallica had a one album deal with Warners, and now as the is about to record their next opus, they're essentially up for grabs.
As Lars Ulrich told Spin, the band is indeed "free and clear of our record contract. We can basically do whatever we want. And we're going to start figuring that out."
As to what distribution model the band will take in today's music biz, the band's not exactly sure yet.
"We have fans in India and the U.A.E. and Russia," Ulrich said. "In a lot of these places there are still more conventional ways of getting music to people."
Like with Death Magnetic, Rick Rubin will be producing again, with Ulrich telling GulfNews that the band will be recording the album most of this year.
"For me, personally, Death Magnetic was the launch pad for the next record... This is the beginning of something very, very cool," he added.