METALLICA has finally commenced work on material for the follow-up to 2008's "Death Magnetic" for a tentative 2014 release.Speaking to Metal Hammer for the magazine's January 2013 issue (order a copy at this location), the band's drummer, Lars Ulrich, described the new music, saying "The stuff that we were banging out yesterday, it felt heavy, it felt energetic, it was loud, it was fast, it was rocking, it was crazy. The snare drum was on there and there were guitar solos, in case anybody was wondering." He added: "What we're doing now certainly sounds like a continuation of where we left off four years ago." However, Lars would not confirm that METALICA's next album will once again be helmed by producer Rick Rubin, who worked on "Death Magnetic", telling Metal Hammer: "I love Rick, we all love Rick. We're in touch with Rick constantly. We'll see where it goes." "Death Magnetic" was METALLICA's last under its contract with Warner Music Group — where the band has been making records since 1984. METALLICA announced on November 30 that it has taken ownership of all the band's master recordings and long-form videos under a provision of the band's 1994 joint venture agreement with the Warner Music Group. According to that provision — almost unheard of for acts signed to major label contracts — all the masters reverted back to the band. Frontman James Hetfield said in a statement, "We would like to thank everyone at the Warner Music Group for 28 years of a fantastic relationship, particularly since 1994 where we truly felt we had partners in every aspect of our business in North America."
The band has also revealed that it is launching its own label, called Blackened Recordings, that will be the new home for all of their recordings and videos, as well as anything else that the band may come up with. All marketing and promotion will be handled by Blackened, with distribution through Rhino Entertainment in North America and the Universal Music Group internationally. Ulrich said, "Forming Blackened Recordings is the ultimate in independence, giving us 100 percent control and putting us in the driver's seat of our own creative destiny." Ulrich told The Pulse Of Radio a while back that METALLICA was long past the point where the band needed a corporate record label to support it. "The great thing about being in a band like us is that we're in a position to bypass the record company," he said. "Basically record companies act like banks. And when you don't need the bank element of a record company, then you can kind of do it yourself." METALLICA is also working on a 3D feature film for release next summer.