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What? Friday, hard rock legends Metallica will release the Rick Rubin-produced Death Magnetic, the quartet’s ode to epic duh duh shredding and their 100,000 mph roots, and arguably the band’s best record to date. What’s more, with this release Metallica are redefining industry album release standards — yes, the same guys who notoriously battled file-sharing service Napster in the new millennium. Death Magnetic, previewed last weekend in a YouTube takeover, will drop the world across on the same day with digital-only options. Let the head banging begin!

Who? Like they even need an introduction… Metallica: hard hitting, face melting titans responsible for carrying the hard rock torch for more than two decades. The band — formed in ’81 when drummer Lars Ulrich placed a newspaper ad — first hit the radar with their 1983 debut, Kill ‘Em All, and have paved a path of sonic destruction ever since. After a series of setbacks, notably the death of original bassist Cliff Burton in a 1986 bus crash, Metallica released a series of revered records, including …And Justice for All and Metallica (“The Black Album”), both highlighted by frontman James Hetfield’s stark lyrics and guitarist Kirk Hammett’s full-throttle play. In 2001 the band entered the studio to forge St. Anger, the emotion-fueled sessions from which are captured in the documentary Some Kind of Monster. Death Magnetic is Metallica’s ninth full-length album.

Fun Fact: While working on Death Magnetic, Metallica offered their most fervent fans a unique, ground-breaking view of the record’s creation with producer Rick Rubin in a series of video posts via

Now Watch This: Metallica practicing “My Apocalypse”