Lars Ulrich doesn't anticipate full-scale arena gigs returning until "a year at the earliest".

The Metallica drummer believes it will be a little while yet before thousands of gig-goers can fill music venues, due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

Speaking at CNBC's Evolve Summit this week, the rocker said: "As we unfortunately have to come to grips with, the last thing that will happen are big concerts, you know 20,000 people in an arena, 50,000 people in a stadium.

"The good news on the live concert front, when Metallica and other bands like Metallica play big arena or stadium concerts again, then you can pretty much count on the fact that COVID, as we know it now, is over."

On when he predicts proper shows to be back, he added: "What we know now compared to three months ago, six months ago, is that the wait is unfortunately going to continue to be long.

"I would say ... third quarter, fall of next year, at the earliest, is what we're betting on right now."

Despite being apart from one another amid the global health crisis, the heavy metal legends have become more collaborative during lockdown while working on their new album together remotely.

Bassist Robert Trujillo recently admitted the Grammy-winning group - which is also comprised of James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett - have worked more together than ever before on their follow-up to 2016's ‘Hardwired…To Self-Destruct’.

Robert said: “I’m not gonna speak on behalf of the other guys, but to me, it feels like this could be a very collaborative [writing process].

“And for me personally, I love that. I love that we are in that head space to be more collaborative, and I think that’s very exciting for where we’re at now, the journey we’re about to take, the fact that those doors are opening like that.”