Shorthanded Metallica Enter Recording Studio

Group working with producer Bob Rock again, according to message on

A bassless Metallica entered a Bay Area recording studio on Monday (April 23) to begin work on their eighth studio album.

Singer James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist Kirk Hammett will be in the studio into the summer with longtime producer Bob Rock, according to a posting on An Elektra spokesperson would confirm only that the site is controlled by the band.

Metallica's first studio effort since 1998's double-disc collection of covers, Garage Inc., is expected late this year or early next year.

Though Hetfield said earlier this month that Metallica are "starting to entertain the idea" of finding a replacement for former bass player Jason Newsted, he added that they're open to the possibility of recording the entire album without a bassist (see "Bassless Metallica To Begin Work On New Album").

"We have a total freeform attitude right now, so we could go any which way we want," Hetfield said.

Newsted announced his departure in January after 14 years with the band (see "Bassist Jason Newsted Leaves Metallica").