METALLICA started recording its ninth studio LP in Los Angeles this week. According to the band's site, this is the first time METALLICA has recorded outside of the Bay Area since they spent "an eternity" at One on One Studios recording their 1991 self-titled release, popularly known as The Black Album.
In the latest issue of the METALLICA Club (the group's official fan club) members-only magazine "So What!", guitarist Kirk Hammett was asked if there are any common musical themes running through the 14 songs the band is recording for its new effort. "There is a really unusual theme that's working its way into the music," he replied. "I'm not really sure how to react to it. Maybe it's someone else trying to tell us that we should react to it, but a lot of the music has an eastern harmonic flair to it, a harmonic minor flair to it, and when I say harmonic minor, that could be construed as like eastern sounding or Middle Eastern sounding or maybe Arabic? I don't know if it's just the zeitgeist, a sign of the times, or maybe because like, you know, Middle Eastern culture is so prevalent, or maybe the negative things about Middle Eastern culture. Maybe artists are conscious, just want to shine light on the positive aspects of Middle Eastern culture, i.e. the music. But there's passages that sound, that use harmonic minor and dominant, and those sounds are distinctly Arabic sounding or Middle Eastern sounding, and you hear them in all the songs. At the less likely times, all of a sudden they'll turn a corner and there we are, smack, right dab there in Syria or Iraq, as far as culture is concerned. We're playing notes that were played, have been played for thousands of years, that aren't born in western culture, and it's just a trip to see. And maybe I'm the first to really vocalize it, but it's just there."
Unlike the troubled, turbulent sessions for the band's last album, 2003's "St. Anger", drummer Lars Ulrich told Launch that pre-production for the new effort had a whole different vibe. "It's frighteningly tame (laughs)," he said. "The four of us show up and we hang out and we have a great time, and there are no psychiatrists in sweaters, there are no film crews, it's very much like it used to be. It's pretty mellow around here. All that 'St. Anger' stuff seems like a movie (laughs)."
The group plans to work in the studio until early June, take a break for its European tour, then finish recording in August. As for whether METALLICA will release the new album in 2007, Ulrich said, "I'd like to try and get it out this year, I hope we can get it out this year. If it doesn't come out this year, then it will be out at the very beginning of next year."