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James Hetfield Talks Next Metallica Album and Orion Music + More Festival

James Hetfield
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

James Hetfield gives an update on the status of the next Metallica album and reveals what fans can expect from their first ever Orion Music + More Festival, which takes place this weekend (June 23 – 24) in Atlantic City, N.J.

Metallica have been talking about their next album for roughly a year now. They took a detour to be the house band for Lou Reed’s lightning rod for criticism, ‘Lulu,’ but quickly returned the focus to their own future. The band has been talking with ‘Death Magnetic’ producer Rick Rubin about helming their next album, for which there is no clear time-table at this point. “You tell me. I don’t know,” Hetfield tells Philly.com of their 10th studio album. “We’re writing here and there, touring, doing the festival thing. I’m looking forward to making the next record. But I don’t know when.”

The “festival thing” Hetfield referred to was likely the maiden voyage of their diverse Orion Music + More Festival, set to take over Atlantic City this weekend. So why exactly is Metallica getting into the festival business? “First of all, because we can,” Hetfield proclaims. “Why wouldn’t you? We’re just trying to bring a little more of a mix to what is going on. I think the Europeans are able to look at a festival more as an event than ‘my favorite band is playing.’ We’re not necessarily trying to reproduce that in the States, but we’d like to bring a little taste of that here.”

The incredibly diverse lineup was handpicked by Metallica, so naturally Hetfield is looking forward to attending the show as a fan and not just a performer. “There’s the crazy chick [Grace Perry, singer] in Land Mine Marathon, or Baroness, or Jim Breuer doing his comedy,” Hetfield exclaims of the acts he’s excited to see. “Then, there are a lot of metal bands that we’ve played with or other stuff we enjoy. Suicidal [Tendencies], Sepultura, the Sword. I’m going through this phase listening to this band called Ghost. There’s Torch, Red Fang, Kyng…”

Hetfield also explains the significance of the two records they plan to perform in their entirety at the festival — ‘Ride the Lightning’ and the “The Black Album.” “‘Ride the Lightning’ started to splinter us off from your Slayers and other thrash bands,” says Hetfield. “A song called ‘Fade to Black’ was an instant thorn in the side of the metal community. It was the first veering off the studded path. [The Black Album] became the album, I guess, that people needed to have. It’s a gateway for people to get into Metallica.”

Metallica, along with Avenged Sevenfold, Modest Mouse, Gaslight Anthem, Arctic Monkeys, Cage the Elephant, Eric Church and more, will take the stage over the course of two days in Atlantic City’s Bader Field for Orion Music + More June 23 – 24. There will also be a number of attractions geared towards the band’s individual personalities, such as Kirk’s Crypt — an area where some of guitarist Kirk Hammett‘s horror memorabilia will be on display.

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