Last year, Metallica excited fans over the possibility of a new album arriving perhaps sooner than many anticipated, but now drummer Lars Ulrich has reversed course and said that it is "way too early" to talk about a followup to 2016's Hardwired... To Self-Destruct.

The metal legends' writing process, at least throughout the 21st century, has been notoriously laborious, which helps explain the often long gaps fans endure between new studio records. With plenty of downtime last year amid the pandemic lockdown, Metallica, and Ulrich in particular, often flaunted the "very good chance" for a quarantine album.

Earlier this year, James Hetfield had also revealed they had written 10 new songs and had intentions on recording music last fall.

As promising as all this sounds, Ulrich, who spoke with Eddie Trunk on Sirius XM's 'Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk,' was unwilling to put any sort of timetable on a new Metallica album, despite the group's repeated claims that they will not take another eight years to release a new full length, which was how long the gap was between Death Magnetic and Hardwired... To Self-Destruct.

"We're on that path," began Ulrich when asked if a new album was imminent.

"I don't know if it's cohesive enough to call a record, but we're dipping our toes," he went on (transcription via Blabbermouth) and took note of other band related activities that have dominated the musicians' time.

"We've been trying to stay busy. We did the drive-in thing last summer. We did an All Within My Hands event in November. We did [The Late Show With Stephen] Colbert. We're doing [Jimmy] Kimmel [Live!] tomorrow. We're engaged. And we are creating at some level. It's way too early to talk about a record or a timeline or anything. But we're staying busy. And it's exciting to just think of the possibilities. Right now we're so rejuvenated and just ready to get back in," added the drummer, suggesting a renewed focus on writing material was coming back into play.

Ulrich only singled out a handful of events that have kept Metallica busy over the last year. Most recently, they focused on the 30th anniversary of their historic self-titled 1991 album, better known as The Black Album. A massive reissue with previously unreleased recordings just dropped, alongside The Metallica Blacklist, a massive covers compilation featuring artists from inside and outside of the rock and metal world.

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