Heavy metal legends Metallica have been around for about 35 years. The members of the band are no spring chickens - but their distinctive sound is as fresh as ever.
Their last album, a collaboration with rock singer-songwriter Lou Reed, was not as successful as hoped, but the upcoming "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct" looks like it may be just what many metalheads and Metallica fans have been waiting for.
The album's title song was released in August and gave fans a taste of what was to come.
It's back to the roots: down-to-earth, fast-paced, topped off by James Hetfield's distinctive voice. The new album will remind longtime Metallica fans of the band's very first album, "Kill 'em all" in 1983. "A few elements" rubbed off on the new album, drummer and Metallica founder Lars Ulrich admits.
Number one albums
Founded in the 1980s in Los Angeles, Metallica has sold more than 110 million albums worldwide - it's one of the genre's most successful bands. As far as record sales are concerned, the band actually had a slow start, but touring the US and Europe made them increasingly popular. The band worked hard at building a career: speed and thrash metal - and occasionally mainstream. At that time, no other band had brought the mix of aggression and subtle melodies to such perfection.
In 1986, their third album, "Master of Puppets" catapulted them to the pinnacle of heavy metal. Even today, it is regarded as Metallica's best album, and the title song has become a virtual metal classic. "Master of Puppets" didn't go unnoticed in the scene, either, and Ozzy Osbourne and Anthrax took Metallica on tour as a support group.
Album number four "...And Justice for All" did well in the US charts, winning platinum and the band's first nomination for a Grammy. In 1990, Metallica was awarded the first of nine Grammys for the song "One."
Every single album after that was a number one album. With "Nothing Else Matters," Metallica captured the mainstream market without putting off its loyal fans - a balancing act few bands manage.
Metallica is "the only heavy metal band that adults can listen to without feeling their IQ diminishing," says the Rough Guide to Rock music guide.
Fans have been patiently waiting for a new studio album to come out since the last one in 2008, "Death Magnetic." The 2011 album "Lulu" drew frowns from fans and reviewers alike. What sounded promising - tough metal musicians meet Lou Reed, once an avant-garde pop musician - turned out to be a horror trip both from a musical and lyrical point of view that few fans truly enjoyed.
Now Metallica are back, and as usual they don't care at all about convention or expectations. And why should they? The band members may be 53 years old on average, but that's no reason for rock stars to pipe down these days.
Ahead of the release - "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct" hits stores worldwide on November 18 - Metal Hammer music posted a video of one of the new Metallica songs on its website: "Halo on Fire."
Secret concert, radio performances
The deluxe album edition features a three-disc set and digital download, with the third disc containing live recordings of new and old songs.
The band has been busy promoting its new album, too. They played a secret concert last week in Berlin for a pre-recorded German TV show, and then James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo set off in different directions on a radio station tour across Germany, giving interviews right and left. A few radio stations actually interrupted their usual music programs to play a Metallica song.
The 2017 tour takes the band to Europe for two concerts in February in Denmark, Lars Ulrich's native country.
Apparently, the plan is to return to Europe in the fall. Fans of the Wacken Open Air festival are hoping the band might make a stop in the German village in August. Although that's not very likely, the band is set on visiting as many places as possible, and "trying to visit every cosmopolitan city in the world," as lead guitarist Kirk Hammet put it.
Discover some of the the top Metallica classics through our Spotify list.