After a lengthy stint in rehab for alcohol and substance abuse, Metallica frontman James Hetfield has rejoined the band.

Hetfield entered the facility in July (see "Metallica Frontman James Hetfield Enters Rehab") and recently exited "feeling rather good about life," according to a post on the band's Web site, which also said his recovery has gone "exceedingly well."

In one of two brief statements on the site, Hetfield wrote that the letters he received from the band's fans helped his recovery.

"My rough road has become smoother reading the show of support from the friends I've met through Metallica," he wrote.

Metallica are taking a break for the holidays, but in January they'll return to the studio with Hetfield, who asserted that his time away hasn't impaired his creativity.

"My music and lyrics have always been therapy for me," he said. "Without this God-given gift, I don't know where I'd be. And now I truly feel the impact and the connection it's made with others."

While Hetfield was in rehab, drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist Kirk Hammett worked on new songs with the group's longtime producer Bob Rock, who also played bass on the recordings. Metallica still have not replaced bassist Jason Newsted, who left in January, the band's management said (see "Bassist Jason Newsted Leaves Metallica").

The group's publicist said a new Metallica record is tentatively due next fall.