Metallica are taking steps toward a new album, but it still promises to be a lengthy process in completing the effort. Drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist Kirk Hammett tell Rolling Stone that the band is still in the infancy of working on new music.

Hammett explains, "We've jammed on certain bits and pieces of music and figured out this piece of music works, this works, this doesn't. But we're still going through that process. James [Hetfield] has 800 pieces of music. I have 400 pieces of music. Once we figure out what pieces of music are actually gonna work for us, then we're going to start turning those pieces of music into songs and seeing where that leads us."

Ulrich, meanwhile, had a more light-hearted outlook on the timeline, explaining, "What I can say is, we're one day closer to the next record being released than we were yesterday. Unless there's what's called an 'Act of God,' I would hedge my bets that '201' would be the first three digits in the release year. And I don't know much beyond that. We've been jamming along. We've been putting in some time."

If you do the math, that leaves the band six years to complete the effort. Hopefully it will be a lot sooner than that.

However, the band is still planning to have a new song ready for their upcoming tour. But the guys were not biting on the chance to reveal a song title. "Are you kidding me?" scoffed Ulrich. "That's six weeks from now. We played two new songs on the 2006 tour, right when we were writing and getting ready to record 'Death Magnetic.' At those gigs, they were very eloquently entitled 'New Song 1' and 'New Song 2.' You can't f--- with that."

The band's upcoming dates will begin March 16 in Bogota, Colombia and will also venture into Europe before completion.

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