In the continuing Metallica saga, the band has two more weeks to go before they vacate The Plant, Sausalito California's pre-eminent studio, which they have booked since last February. A source very close to the band says the new album, which is scheduled for a March '96 release, will contain 25 songs, 18 of which have already been recorded. This is not to say that the band has kept their noses to the grindstone. James Hetfield went hunting with Jim Martin, the former evil genius guitarist with Faith No More, in Yosemite a couple months ago, and as we told you last week, Metallica flew down to Los Angeles to help Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister celebrate his 50th birthday, and just last night the entire band went to San Francisco's Bottom Of The Hill to see Joan Jett perform with Evil Stig, aka as the Gits. All four of the Metallica-ites pressed in close to see Jett work the crowd, just skirting the edge of the mosh pit. Afterwards, Kirk Hammett went backstage to mingle with the Jett and company. Lars Ulrich was about to follow, and asked the husky fellow manning the backstage door whether Kirk was up there. When the bodyguard answered "Yes," the drummer replied, "then I'll stay here." Go figure. Later the foursome seemed completely at ease when they posed for pictures with Jett and the Gits. Also in attendance was Linda Perry, formerly from For Non Blondes, who just finished her first (and much anticipated) solo album, and Metallica producer Bob Rock.