Metallica & Recent events, ninth studio album:

On February 16, 2006, Metallica announced on their official website that after their 15+ year relationship, longtime producer Bob Rock was stepping down and would not be recording Metallica's next studio album. Rock had produced every Metallica album since 1991. Metallica is currently working on a studio album with producer Rick Rubin who has produced albums for other prominent metal bands such as System Of A Down, Slipknot, Slayer, and Rage Against the Machine.

Metallica debuted an untitled song nicknamed "The New Song" in Berlin, Germany on June 6th, 2006 on the European leg of the Escape from the Studio '06 mini tour. On August 12th, 2006, Metallica debuted another song in Tokyo, Japan on the Asian leg of the tour, nicknamed "The Other New Song". They have also supported the Summer Sonic tour in Tokyo and Osaka, along with Linkin Park.

The band has previously unveiled new songs prior to their release: Four songs from Ride the Lightning ("Fight Fire with Fire", "Ride The Lightning", "Creeping Death", and "The Call Of Ktulu") were performed before the release of the album; Master of Puppets' "Disposable Heroes" was debuted on September 14th of 1985; ...And Justice for All's "Harvester of Sorrow" received its live debut in 1987, Load's "2x4" was played during the Escape from the Studio '95 mini-tour; and Reload's "Fuel" and "Devil's Dance" were played at various points during the Load tour 1996-97 and again during the 3 shows European mini-tour in August 1997 ("The Memory Remains" and "Bad Seed" were teased numerous times at shows throughout 1996 and 1997).

It was during this time on tour that the band finally bowed to fan pressure decided to make each of their albums available at the iTunes Store - though strictly only in the U.S. and Canada until issues with their European label are resolved - allowing individual tracks to be legally downloaded for the first time. Exclusive tracks from the Seattle '89 shows were added to the band's first four albums.

On October 13, 2006 Metallica announced that they would release a DVD containing all their videos from 1989 to 2004. The DVD is called The Videos 1989-2004, and was released on December 4, 2006 worldwide and on December 5 in North America.Metallica also released a cover of "The Ecstasy of Gold", a song by Ennio Morricone in an album entitled We All Love Ennio Morricone released on Febraury 20, 2007, in which other artists honor the composer. The Ecstasy of Gold has been the opener of Metallica live shows for over 20 years - but it has always been the original instrumentation and arrangement, played from a recording. This new version features the band itself performing it, giving a new guitar-based interpretation to the song.

On February 9, 2007 Metallica confirmed that pre-production on the new studio album had been completed, and recording of the new album will begin on March 12, 2007. The band also announced that a summer tour (SICK OF THE STUDIO '07) was in the early planning stages.Three dates of this tour have been announced so far: 7/1/07, at the Rock Werchter Festival in Belgium, 7/3/07 at the Rockwave Festival in Greece, 7/5/07 in Vienna, Austria, 7/10/07 in Oslo, Norway, 7/12/07 in Stockholm, Sweden, 7/13/07 in Arhus, Denmark, 7/15/07 in Helsinki, Finland, 7/18/07 in Moscow, Russia.