Yes, Metallica have been working on new music over the last couple of years and yes, you've also seen them onstage quite a bit over that same period, but the band is well aware that the anticipation for a new album has reached a fevered pitch. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, drummer Lars Ulrich reveals that the next album release is their primary focus.

"I think it will be a pretty in-your-face year, at least the back half of it," the drummer says. "Obviously, we've gotta finish the new record now. But thankfully we're quite far along. Hopefully we should be able to knock that on the head this spring, I would guess. So we will be gearing up and playing shows and doing all that fun stuff again soon."

Ulrich estimates that the band spent nine months working on their next record, due in part to the experimentation of feeling out the songs they picked to work on from their massive collection of musical ideas. He explains, "Nowadays, we sit and go, 'That's a great piece of music,' and 'That's really cool,' and then we'll play it faster, then slower, then half a step down, exploring all these options ... There are 75 different ways to play something, and you end up f--king driving yourself nutty."

And while a new album is their primary focus, there has been quite a bit of reflection going on as well with the Kill Em All and Ride the Lightning reissues and their live Record Store Day album from Le Bataclan on the horizon. Plus there's a new book from Matt Taylor called Back to the Front that looks back at the making of the Master of Puppets album coming soon.

Ulrich says, "There's been this dichotomy between the new record, moving the band forward, and all this great stuff that's happening in the future, and then really seeing the Matt Taylor book and reissues. We've had one foot in the past, sifting through old photos and old memorabilia and listening to old songs, and another in the new album. It's been a confluence of all these different energies, and I'm not even sure exactly what to make of all of it."

So stay tuned for a full year of music, both past and present, coming from Metallica.

See Where 'Master of Puppets' Ranks Among Our Top 50 Metal Albums of All Time

You Think You Know Metallica?