For Metallica fans eager to cleanse their palate after last year's collaboration with Lou Reed, here's some welcome news: drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist Kirk Hammett say the band has been working with producer Rick Rubin on the songs for its next proper studio album for the last several months, and although they aren't ready to talk about a release date yet, it sounds like they already have a pretty solid stack of new material -- and it could represent a return to their lean-and-mean sound of the early '90s.

"We're about seven, eight songs into it," Ulrich told Rolling Stone during a recent interview. "We do it in rounds. We come up with something, we leave it, go to the next thing, come up with something basic, leave it and circle back around. Next month we'll go back and start embellishing: 'Let's double that one part and come up with a middle bit.'"

Hammett chimed in, adding, "If 'Death Magnetic' was a logical successor to '…And Justice For All', the next album will be a heavier Black Album. We're not going to the depths of complexity that we did for 'Death Magnetic.' The stuff we're coming up with is more groove-oriented, a heavier version of what we were doing in the early '90s."

"When people talk about the old stuff, they think 'Justice'," Ulrich continued. "But look at 'Harvester of Sorrow' on that album. It's a fairly simple five-minute song. And 'Fuel' [from 1997's 'Reload'] is an absolute scorcher live. Right now, I'm thinking shorter, more to-the-point."

Ulrich and Hammett also discussed Metallica's upcoming 3D film, currently in the early stages of development. "Imagine if you took [Led Zeppelin's] 'The Song Remains the Same,' which is 75 percent concert, 25 percent other stuff, and flipped it around. And all the nonconcert footage, instead of being about the band members, is a story that unfolds, set against the backdrop of the concert."