Metallica Compiling Live Symphonic Album

Two-CD/video collection will feature new songs 'Minus Human,' 'No Leaf Clover.'

Metallica are preparing to enter a California recording studio to begin editing a live two-CD set — including two new songs — that will chronicle their April symphonic-metal experiment with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.

But singer James Hetfield said fans should not expect that the heavy-metal band's forthcoming studio album, due next year, will necessarily continue in a strings-and-power-chords vein.

"As far as incorporating any symphony into our new recordings, that was a fun challenge," said Hetfield, speaking backstage at Woodstock '99. "It was a fun thing to try and do. I never say never. But I don't feel we're going to get 75 musicians into a studio and pop off a little song or two"

(RealAudio excerpt of interview).

The still-untitled symphonic set, also to be available on DVD and video, will be derived from tapes of the band's two-night stand (April 21-22) at the Berkeley Community Theater. During the show, the San Francisco Bay Area band performed such career-defining heavy metal songs as "Master of Puppets"

(RealAudio excerpt) and "The Call of Ktulu" with the backing of a full orchestra.

"A couple weeks into August, we'll get in there and start working on it," Hetfield said, predicting that the live album would be out in November. A spokesperson for the band's label, Elektra Records, said a release date has not yet been set for the album and video project.

"We put together two brand new Metallica songs especially for those shows," Hetfield said. "They're very Metallica, not written for the orchestra. We just wanted to make it special with a couple new songs"

(RealAudio excerpt of interview).

The two songs, "Minus Human" and "No Leaf Clover," will appear alongside such hits as "Nothing Else Matters" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Enter Sandman."

The symphonic performances, which featured the scruffy rockers playing in front of classical musicians in tuxedos and led by conductor Michael Kamen — who wrote the orchestral arrangement of "Nothing Else Matters" in 1992 — was a far cry from the pioneering speed-metal sound that forged the group's reputation in the early '80s.

"Wow! Hey, they like us!" Hetfield said during the first night of the symphonic experiment. "Hey, did you hear the one about the heavy-rock band who wanted to play with the symphony? You're f---in' lookin' at it, man."

Metallica — Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, bassist Jason Newsted and guitarist Kirk Hammett — may be willing to push their sound in new directions. But at their core they are a rock band, Newsted said at Woodstock.

"We've always been into experimenting with things," the bassist said. "But you know there's a lot of new bands experimenting with new sounds and technology, [and] it's only going to help your sound. ... I always try to take on new influences, but don't ever get too far away from the original influences"

(RealAudio excerpt of interview).

Metallica released their first studio album, Kill 'Em All, in 1983. It was a brutal, heavy-metal tour de force that set the standard for thrash-metal bands that followed. By the time their fifth studio album, Metallica, was released in 1991, the quartet had become huge stars, garnering heavy airplay and MTV airtime for the elaborate videos to hits such as "The Unforgiven."

Once the sessions for the symphonic set are completed, Hetfield said the group will be eager to get back into the studio to record the follow-up to the 1996 album Load and its 1997 sequel Re-Load.

"You can't not think about writing [new songs]," Hetfield said. "It's always coming out. It's always happening.

"[I'm] really looking forward to getting some new material. It's really been a long time again from writing all the stuff for the Load [album] to now. It's time to get it out — get the evil out, man."

Hetfield predicted the group would begin work on the new album early next year, with an eye toward recording "what we do best — heavy stuff," with some experimentation thrown in as well.

Newsted said it would not be out of the question for the meat-and-potatoes rockers to try their hand at using samples. "We shouldn't have too many rules in the studio the next time," he said. "We really try to keep open about some crazy ideas ... like James playing drums."

Metallica will finish out the year with a half-dozen live dates, culminating with a New Year's Eve show at the 80,000-capacity Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich. The Dec. 31 concert will also feature guitarist Ted Nugent and rap-rock MC Kid Rock as opening acts.