Speaking in a new interview, the singer said that isolation proved productive for the metal legends who linked up on Zoom from different locations to write new material.
Hetfield shared the news with The Fierce Life, a podcast made by gun manufacturer Fierce Firearms, which focuses on Hetfield’s hobby interest of hunting.
He told the podcast: “Because of COVID, just sitting at home and getting a little bit antsy and just feeling creative at the same time and wanting to get together, I started doing a weekly Zoom with those guys just to check in.
“And then I just told them one time, ‘Hey, I’m gonna write something. I’m just gonna play something and send it to you guys. You do whatever you want with it and see what happens and layer on to it.’ So that’s how we did a version of ‘Blackened’ [for] 2020. I just basically played something – they hadn’t heard it before, they played on it” [quotes transcribed by Metal Hammer].
“We started experimenting with writing on Zoom. [Drummer] Lars [Ulrich] and I would get together, or [guitarist] Kirk [Hammett] and Lars, and we would get little bits of time here and there writing. It was difficult because of the delay in the sound, so we couldn’t actually play together, but we would play to a click track and watch each other play.”
Hetfield continued: “We had our producer, who was running my computer while I was playing. He was running my computer from LA, and I’m in Vail [Colorado].
“Lars had an assistant running his computer from LA – he’s up here in San Francisco – and we were playing together, and it was pretty bizarre. We started writing. We got about, I don’t know, over 10 songs going that way. And then we finally got together. There’s only so much you can do on Zoom.”
In January, Ulrich admitted that Metallica are only making “glacial” progress with their new album, suggesting that the follow-up to 2016’s ‘Hardwired…To Self-Destruct‘ won’t see the light of day for some time.
Last November he said that he and his bandmates were engaged in some “pretty serious writing” sessions for the album, promising the following month that the forthcoming LP would be the best record that Metallica have ever made.