Metallica

Nancy Kaszerman/ZumaPress.com

Metallica is riding the Xbox.

Eight years after alienating many of its fans by suing Napster, the heavy metal band is finally embracing the future, announcing plans to release its highly anticipated ninth studio album, Death Magnetic, as a Guitar Hero III: Legends of the Rock download on Sept. 15, the same day the disc arrives in stores.

"It's a first in both music and gaming...the same day that Death Magnetic hits the streets, you'll be able to download every song from the album for Guitar Hero III!" Metallica says on its website.

"We are so psyched that we'll be the first out of the gate with this simultaneous release...who knows, maybe a few years from now this will be the norm when your favorite band's new record comes out."

The quartet also confirmed that the 11-song set will be included on Guitar Hero: World Tour, Activision's companion release that allows gamers to match Metallica note for note on vocals, guitar and drums tracks.

Besides its Guitar Hero entries, the headbangers are also readying a deluxe box set version of Death Magnetic for retail, plus a special coffin box package available via the band's site as well as MetClub.com and MissionMetallica.com. The latter contains a CD of song demos, a DVD chronicling the making of the album, a T-shirt, flag, guitar picks and a poster.

And yes, Metallica will also sell the new album as a digital download on most major music sites, including iTunes and—shudder to think—perhaps even the new Napster.

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